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.'"

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