Italian Filmmaker Just Loves Our Jails

Hot on the heels of winning the Special Jury Prize for best short film at the Houston International Film Festival, Roberto Minervini is working on a feature film that will be shot in Houston and Marfa.

MarfaRed, which Minervini tells Hair Balls is "as much as road trip movie as it is an inner journey," will be shot in July, and features local actors Alan Liddiard and Sylvia Armendariz, as well as blues guitarist "Mean Gene" Kelton, in his first acting role. Minirvini and his wife, Denise Lee, wrote the screenplay.

In addition to the aforementioned Jury prize, the Italian-born filmmaker's 15-minute short, The Fireflies, also nabbed the Grand Remi Award for "Best of Houston." Shot in the Dominican Republic, the short was about an aging man and woman whose chance encounter...well, we don't want to spoil anything.

Minervini says the Houston Film Commission has been extremely supportive, especially in trying to get clearance to shoot in difficult places -- like jails in Baytown and Richmond.

"Things are going amazingly smooth in Houston," Minervini says -- as opposed to NYC, where he's also filmed. There, he says, "It's easier to go to jail than to shoot in a jail."

He says he hopes the film will be released before Christmas and will at least be shown locally. It's financed by a private local investor -- and Minervini's own savings. And since he's putting his money where his mouth (and camera) is, Hair Balls thinks you should go see the movie when it comes out. And whether it turns out you like it or give it a thumbs-down, the film will be a success insofar as Minervini's goal to create art and express himself.

"When I die," he says, "I would like [my epitaph] to be written 'At least I tried.'"

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Contributor Craig Malisow covers crooks, quacks, animal abusers, elected officials, and other assorted people for the Houston Press.
Contact: Craig Malisow