Local filmmaker wins ‘Best of’ award at Penn. festival

The city of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania — a picturesque “Swiss Alps village,” frozen in a Victorian time with colorfully ornate architecture and narrow streets snuggled in the mountainous Lehigh Gorge — is home of the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival. 

Held at a historic opera house this past weekend, June 8-11, the fledgling film fest screened 84 movies from directors all across the world, yet it was a San Martian who took home a big prize for “Best Grindhouse Film.”

The sleepy, antiquated town may seem a surprising choice for a film fest whose stated intentions are “welcoming the boldest, most defiant filmmakers to present their work, shatter convention and incite spirited debate.” But for San Marcos filmmaker, Jeffrey Garcia, those terms sounded perfect.

A fourth generation San Martian, Garcia, who is 23, has always had a passion for film-making and comedy. His YouTube channel contains many years of “Kids in the Hall”-style skits, dramatic short films, faux interviews and talk show parodies. 

When he learned of the film fest, and its free entry fee, he submitted and was accepted into the festival.

Garcia has been sharing his work locally for years, premiering many of his pieces at Wake The Dead Coffeehouse. Owner Julie Balkman is always happy to let him use their screening room: “He is a great kid.”

Garcia has also participated in multiple San Marcos Cinema Club events, including screenings at Cheatham Street Warehouse, HomeBrew Supply and KIVA. 

His work has been compared to the early films of other notable directors for example: Wes Anderson for the moody, beautiful, quiet visuals; David Lynch for the surrealistic, dreamlike sequences; John Waters for the campy and hilarious B-movie flare; and Harmony Korine for the often edgy subject matter and loose hand-held camera work.

When Garcia learned of his acceptance into the fest, he began organizing a way to get to Jim Thorpe, which resulted in a 30-hour car ride with his main actors Furly Travis and Tim Flaten. 

Garcia’s short film “Terrence” — which first debuted at Wake the Dead Coffeehouse last year, where Garcia has been unveiling his films since he was a teenager — was awarded Best Film in Grind House division.  

“Terrence” portrays a funny yet tragic tale of a failing middle-aged ventriloquist confronting life’s struggles, including the romantic advances of a much too young gal, played by Cora Roper. The film captures a strange balance of compassion and empathy, while exploring love, loneliness, morality and survival. 

Todd Morris, executive director of Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival said, “‘Terrence’ stood out from the other Grindhouse films with its brilliantly twisted and often cringeworthy sense of humor and a colorful, low-rent style. Think John Waters crossed with Harvey Pekar. I’m definitely looking forward to screening Garcia’s future work.

A collection of Garcia’s work is available on DVD — “Three Short Films” — recently released by San Marcos label Pecan Crazy Records. 

The DVD, as suggested by the title, contains a trio of Garcia’s short films, as well as special features including music videos directed by Garcia for local musicians Attic Ted and Marshall Anderson. 

To see the winning short film and other artwork by Garcia, visit his website: JeffreyGarciaArtist.com

San Marcos Daily Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666