Documentary wins prestigious awards for Texas A&M-Kingsville assistant professor

KINGSVILLE - March 09, 2015

Contact: Julie Navejar
or Phone: 361-593-2590

A documentary feature about the impact Dominican friars had on the history and development of South Texas has won two prestigious awards at the recent IndieFEST Film Awards. The film, South Texas Gentle Men of Steel – Los Padres, was written, produced and directed by Armando P. Ibanez, assistant professor of radio, television and film at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. 

The film received the Award of Excellence for History/Biographical and the Award of Merit Special Mention: Christian from IndieFEST. In winning these awards, Ibanez and his Pluma Pictures Inc., join the ranks of other high-profile winners of this internationally respected award including Liam Neeson as the narrator of Love They Nature, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tom Hall for Generosity of Eye and Roland Joffee for The Lovers staring Josh Hartnett.

“The film represents a chapter of the ongoing universal story of people grappling to understand and accept each other as equals,” said Ibanez. “It is a chapter that traces its roots to the Spanish Conquista—a wrestling match of greed and brutality against equality and Salvation. It is part of the universal story that began with Cain slaying his brother Abel.”

Ibanez’ film is a tribute to the last two Spanish Dominican friars—Fr. Benito Retortillo, O.P., and Epifanio “Epi” Rodriguez, O.P. They left San Diego last year and returned to their homes in Spain, ending an 82-year presence of Spanish Dominican friars in central South Texas. The film is not only a tribute to the last two friars to minister in San Diego and the surrounding area, but is also about the great impact Dominican friars had on the lives of many Mexican Americans in South Texas who struggle against poverty and discrimination.

Award-winning editor, special effects and animator, Todd Schmidt, is the documentary’s co-producer. Neil de la Pena was director of photography; Alan Jouet was audio engineer; and Emmy Award nominee Joe O. Barrera was music composer and supervisor. Barrera was named film music composer to watch by Hollywood Reporter and has won numerous prestigious honors for his music.

The IndieFEST Film Awards recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film and television industry.