Local movie about neighboring families premieres in Buda

by Cyndy Slovak-Barton

Lehman High’s Mariachi Band was just a precursor; the students set the mood for an evening that included a lot of laughs.

And some tears.

The movie, “Vecinos: Love Thy Neighbor,” was having a premiere showing in the Carrington Friday night. And locals who know the Buda area recognized a lot of the scenes.

But the characters on screen spoke from the heart, hauling audience members into the scenes, where they looked at the lives of two families who become neighbors.

Their lives entertwine, and love and troubles follow.

Vecinos is Alex Avila’s first feature film and his second as a producer. Avila, who is a native of Austin, now lives in Buda. He spent 25 years as a professional journalist, and is an award-winning NPR producer. 

This film originated as a play by the film’s lead actor, Rupert Reyes. Reyes and Avila started working the play into a film in 2014 and years later – despite COVID – the film is being entered into various film festivals. Most of the film was shot in Buda during the summer of 2019.

Both Reyes and Avila pointed out that they wanted to make sure this did not play to the Mexican American/Hispanic stereotypes so often seen in films.

Instead, this is a true love story and comedy, showing tender moments between families that anyone is able to understand.

And anyone coming from a small town will also understand the connections, the community and the caring between the characters.

Reyes said that he and Avila put a lot of their own money into the movie, with Reyes noting that he borrowed against the equity in his house. But he wanted everyone to know that he thought the investments was well worth the risk.

And the audience seemed to agree, as many asked how they could help with money to send Reyes and Avila on to festivals.

The premiere was put together by the Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce, which is headquartered in Buda. The Buda Area Chamber of Commerce helped with the presentation and sponsorship of the premiere.

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