Welcome to URBAN-15's “Hidden Histories,” a new monthly, magazine-format video series that pursues and preserves the stories, lives, and places that make San Antonio an inspiring cultural treasure.
In Remembering the Alamo: Memory, Modernity, and the Master Symbol, anthropologist Richard R. Flores writes: “Stories of the past … inscribe our present and shape our future.” Historical narratives, in other words, impact self-identity and affect how we relate to others—for better and for worse. Curated by George Cisneros, October’s episode of Hidden Histories examines a long tradition of Alamo cinema, exploring how the story and iconography of the Alamo has shaped the way we view a complex and centuries-long regional history. In “The Alamo on Film,” we discuss five significant Alamo films, aiming to differentiate historical reality from fictional license and interrogate how these narratives have both helped and at times hurt us.
In this Tricentennial year, such questions have expanded from strictly academic inquiry to a wider community of citizen historians. In this spirit, the episode will feature three prominent cultural commentators: first, filmmaker Jimmy Mendiola will discuss the cultural implications of the 1969 comedy Viva Max. Nathan Cone of TPR’s Cinema Tuesdays will then talk about the 1915 silent film Martyrs of the Alamo, the 1960 version of The Alamo starring John Wayne, and John Lee Hancock’s 2004 rendition of The Alamo. Finally, Express-News columnist Elaine Ayala will discuss Remember the Alamo, a thought-provoking documentary produced in 2003 by San Antonio native Joseph Tovares for PBS’s American Experience series. At a time of fraught discussion about U.S.-Mexico relations, panelists will explore how a century of cinematic renderings of the Alamo narrative—probably the most infamous story about “Texans” and “Mexicans”—have influenced and shaped daily life and dialogue between these groups in modern-day San Antonio.
With the support of the San Antonio Film Commission and the San Antonio Area Foundation, URBAN-15 has developed this project to ensure that the histories memorialized by the Tricentennial celebration and by World Heritage efforts truly reflect the diversity of this region, which has been inhabited for over 10,000 years—well before 300 years of European settlement. Community-produced media is one way we can broaden public participation in official histories.
Over the course of 2018, Hidden Histories will premiere 12 monthly screenings live in our studio, free of charge. Each screening will highlight archival interviews with community leaders; significant performances by musicians, dancers and poets; interactions with working artists; lost documentaries; forgotten narrative films; and vintage discussions of important community issues. Held in our studio, these live screenings will be supplemented by interviews and discussions with participants, family members of those featured, and field experts.
Following each live screening, video segments will be re-screened throughout that month via our internet broadcasting studio, and afterwards archived online for 24/7 access. All live and online screenings of Hidden Histories are free of charge. Live screenings will take place at the URBAN-15 studio (2500 S. Presa 78204) at 7pm on the first Monday of the month. Online screenings can be viewed at urban15.org/live-stream.