SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas – “For me, every film should be a local film. No matter how big the budget, or how small the budget, you should have the locals involved.”

The 26th Annual Cinesol Film Festival returning to South Padre Island for two days of film screenings, featuring celebrity guest R.J. Mitte, famed for his role in the critically-acclaimed series, Breaking Bad.

Mitte’s grandparents are from Brownsville and he’s visited the South Texas city all throughout his childhood, making it all the more special to screen his new film, “Carol of the Bells” at the Cinesol festival.

“It’s such a warm and welcoming place here and it’s such an entity about Brownsville and all over this part of South Texas and it’s unique. There’s no other place like it in the world. I love coming down here I always love coming down here and it’s been a home to me,” said R.J. Mitte, Cinesol celebrity guest

His film, produced by Inclusion Films, is a company teaching filmmaking to the developmentally disabled, a cause close to Mitte. “They get to work on a full-feature film and kind of provide that hands-on experience working with leading professionals and learning students. And really trying to bridge that gap of knowledge.”

Cinesol Festival Director Henry Serrato has been involved in the festival since its second year and says that along with the advancement of technology, more people are turning to film making. This year 100 films were submitted, with 31 selected.

“People can shoot a film or a short on their phone. So we’ve seen technology make it accessible for filmmakers do more short films, so that means more films for us to watch and screen,” said Henry Serrato, Cinesol Festival Director.

Another film screened during Cinesol was “Ramona” a story shot in Brownsville about a woman reminiscing on her youth and struggles.

A producer of Ramona says he and others are working to build a strong film industry in the RGV.

“A lot of times in an area like this where incomes are lower they won’t see the opportunities to get into acting or get into working on crews. We want to create those opportunities locally for them and hopefully cultivate that even more,” said Roy De Los Santos-Cuellar, Founder of 6 Cats Production.

Cinesol continues into today with more film screenings and at 7 p.m., the winners of the 36-hour film race will be revealed.

by: Rocio Villalobos