In the wake of SXSW, most residents fail to consider that there are other film festivals in Austin because of the amount of press devoted to SXSW. Sadly, most of the voices within that festival are voices which have been consistently heard and consistently funded. One exception stands out, which was “Building America,” which speaks to the expectation of labor from undocumented workers to feed the appetite of the real estate industry. Fortunately, for those who wish to see the director, Chelsea Hernandez, one can still get to Transform Film Fest, which is being held in East Austin.
Unlike most of the larger artistic events in East Austin, the organizers are women of color who work to create a platform for those with the most difficulty navigating a high-capital artistic expression. None of them have come from easy conversation pieces at regular cocktail hours. Faiza Kracheni hails from the punk world; Larissa Akhmetova comes onto the canvas from the graphic art community; and Danae Johnson continues to develop the Alt Girl Cinema screenings. This is the second year in production, as last year was dedicated to the #MeToo movement. As Faiza said tonight, this year focuses on the awakening of more exposure to the women’s art movement.
Why is Decipher City encouraging attendance? Because in a city like Austin, artists of color struggle to gain audiences, which was one of the major complaints for both SXSW and ACL. All three filmmakers are local female Austinites of color: Mei Makino, presenting a film on life as a multiracial girl; Tia Williams, filmmaker of the series “Gentrified”; and Fox Red Sky, Indigenous activist bringing attention to the devastation of the earth and First Nations. “Transform” is an appropriate name for the festival because only through transformation can more voices be heard.