CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — When Hurricane Harvey took out the Rockport Center for the Arts, there was no telling when the city would have a hub for the art community again.
On Thursday, the Rockport Film Festival kicked off in its new permanent home looking to make a bigger impact on the arts community.
"It's really something where you can come at 11 a.m. and stay until 11 p.m. just watching good movies," said Elena Rodriguez, director of the festival.
Those who attended the first night of the 16th Rockport Film Festival got the movie star treatment, entering the Rockport Conference Center on the red carpet.
“It’s really great to have this place," said Rodriguez who is also the curator of exhibitions at Rockport Center for the Arts. "It means that we can grow the film festival in ways we haven’t been able to before. We finally have a dedicated space, we’ve got state-of-the-art AV equipment, and we have really comfortable chairs.”
"I'm excited to see where the festival grows from here. It's kind of been jumping around over the last couple of years since Harvey. All the power to them for surviving, "filmmaker Jimmy Willden said.
From documentaries, student films animation, and more, the festival has a little of everything. Reasons why filmmakers like Willden return each year.
Willden started making films and submitting them to the festival in 2011.
“The journey I’ve been on I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for a place like the Rockport Film Festival, screening our stuff and basically allowing us a space to become who we are,” said Willden.
Rodriguez said the Coastal Bend has an excellent arts community.
With the film festival being one of the biggest fall events, it helps round out the picture of arts in the coastal bend.
“I see the film festival as filling a gap," she said. "We have a lot of arts in the Coastal Bend, especially here in Rockport. We have a ton of galleries, we have a ton of artists here living and working in Rockport and Corpus Christi.”
“It gives us a springboard to keep making more things, gives us a home to basically show our stuff and grow from here,” Willden said.
Willden’s film “Empty Miles” will debut Saturday at 11 a.m. It's about a man who searches for new meaning in life.
The first screening took place Thursday night. More films will begin screening Friday morning with films set to run all day Saturday and some on Sunday as well.
To purchase tickets click here.
For a full schedule of the films at the event, click here.