On Film, Intersectionality and Activism: Andrea Zarate

Photo by: Juan A. Izaguirre

Photo by: Juan A. Izaguirre

Andrea Zarate is an Austin filmmaker and activist, working hard every day to make sure women of color get their due. Having worked with organizations like Latinitas, and Women and Girls Lead Austin, Andrea is consistent and determined. Read below to find out more about her (and pay attention; she's seriously incredible)!

First off, I have to say that I am such a fan! I saw Dumplings when it was hosted by Alt Girl Cinema, and now I have one of your buttons in my bathroom. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Alt Girl Cinema? Why did you want to start it?

I’ve always loved watching movies, especially horror and experimental films. When I was younger, my parents were really strict and didn’t let my sisters and I go out, so we often stopped by Blockbuster and rented a pile of movies for the weekend. I got so much joy making my way through their collection, but I quickly ran out of things to watch. I was always left wanting more things outside the norm. I think this sparked my passion for filmmaking and my love for researching all kinds of rare and overlooked films.

So when I started working at the Women’s Community Center, I was excited at the opportunity to revamp their film program. As a Xicana filmmaker, I feel like many people don’t think of women of color like myself when they think of genre films or art house films. The idea was to create a program that featured women of color on the production side and as complex characters on screen. With my friends and co-workers, Danea Johnson and Larissa Stephens, we collaborated together and organized a film program that truly reflected this ambitious goal.

What do you want to see as the future with women in the film industry?

I think that women of color have always been in the film industry, we just don’t know about many of them and on top of that, so much attention goes to men or white women. I think that in the future though, more women of color will have greater access to resources and financial support from the communities that want to see their work. We’re going to be telling stories that other people can’t and in a way that is authentic to our identities.

Building off of that question, how do you think we can push Austin in that direction? In other words, what can people do to make a change?

There are so many film series in Austin, but I see some of the same directors’ work being shown over and over. I think film programmers in Austin should to stop focusing so much on work by men, especially those that have a history of abuse, and direct that energy instead towards film work by women of color. Aside from this, people that consume films should seek out cultural organizations that show films by women of color and in the process, support those organizations, such as allgo, the Austin Asian American Film Festival, and the Women’s Community Center. Lastly, if you are making a film, make it a priority to hire women of color!

I also see that you have directed and produced a couple of video series highlighting the stories of women in the Austin community. What is the best memory you have from the creative process?

All of my work focuses on women of color because I really enjoy following women that are doing radical work in their fields. My favorite part of the experience is editing their interviews and really processing and understanding their different philosophies on life.

Lastly, do you have any advice for some young female filmmakers that are struggling to find their place?

I think what has worked for me, after so much trial and error, is to work on something with friends, while also working on something solo. This way you can learn what it's like to collaborate with others but still have that time to grow independently and hone in on your own identity. The film industry is really intimidating to me, so I try really hard to focus on enjoying the process and implementing my creative ideas. At the end of the day, it just depends on what works for you and enables you to do your films. It doesn’t matter what other people are doing!

You can catch Andrea's work at BabesFest, at the Austin School of Film on July 28.

You can also find more of Andrea at vimeo.com/andreazarate

Jane Claire Hervey