Film Produced, Written, Directed by Radio Television Professor Earns International Acclaim

KINGSVILLE - July 17, 2015

Contact: Adriana Garza-Flores
or Phone: 361-593-4979

A documentary about Dominican friars serving in the San Diego area written, produced and directed by a Texas A&M University-Kingsville professor, is earning international acclaim.

South Texas Gentle Men of Steel – Los Padres—a film by Armando P. Ibañez, O.P., a friar of the Southern Dominican Province and Director of Radio-Television-Film Program at Texas A&M-Kingsville—will be screened at the Magnificat 2015 film festival in Minsk, Belarus, August 3-September 3.

“We are very honored and excited,” Ibañez, said. “To be invited to take part in a festival of SIGNIS, a global organization of professional Catholic filmmakers, broadcasters and digital producers, is quite a kudo,” said Ibañez,

SIGNIS has consultative status with UNESCO, Ecosoc (United Nations in Geneva and New York), the Council of Europe, and is officially recognized by the Vatican. The official SIGNIS website states:

SIGNIS is a non-governmental organization that includes members from 140 countries. As the “World Catholic Association for Communication,’ it brings together radio, television, cinema, video, media education, Internet, and new technology professionals…”

The feature documentary is a tribute to the last two Spanish Dominican friars—Father Benito Retortillo, O.P., and Father Epifanio “Epi” Rodriguez, O.P.  They left San Diego and returned to their homes in Spain in 2013, 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 surrounding area, but is also about the great impact Dominican friars had on the lives of many Mexican Americans in South Texas, who struggled against poverty and discrimination. 

“Their presence assisted many Mexican-Americans struggle against injustice and harsh racism, especially in Alice and other surrounding communities,” said Ibañez, founder and president of Pluma Pictures, Inc., a non-profit film production company, which produced the film. 

“The film represents a chapter of the ongoing universal story of people grappling to understand and accept each other as equals. 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.”

The documentary, which was completed this past January, has garnered a number of prestigious awards:  The Accolade Global Film Competition awarded the documentary an Award of Merit; IndieFEST Film Awards awarded the film an Award of Excellence and an Award of Merit Special Mention; and WorldFest Houston International Film Festival honored the film with a Gold Remi Award.