11:57 AM

Educator, Filmmaker Ed Hugetz Celebrated During 'Alligator Horses' Film Fest


By Mike Emery


Houstonians - particularly members of the University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) community - know Ed Hugetz as a passionate academic administrator and educator. Soon, they'll experience another side of the University's interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost.

In addition to his longtime work with UHD and the University of Houston System (UHS), Hugetz is an accomplished filmmaker and multimedia storyteller. He has co-directed, produced and edited numerous films that have been screened and broadcasted around the globe.

On Feb. 17, Hugetz' work in film will be celebrated during The "Alligator Horses" - Ed Hugetz Film Festival. This free event will be hosted at UHD with a reception in its Welcome Center and screenings in the O'Kane Theatre. It offers community members an opportunity to experience and discuss Hugetz' works and meet the filmmaker himself.

The event will begin with a reception at 5 p.m. in the Welcome Center. A faculty and student panel will start at 5:45 p.m. in the O'Kane Theatre followed by dinner. Remarks from Hugetz, guest speakers, and UHD Interim President Michael A. Olivas and screening clips from "Geronimo" will be conducted in the O'Kane Theatre at 8 p.m. Parking is available in the visitor's lot at the corner of Travis and Girard streets. To attend this event, please register at Eventbrite.

A list of films to be discussed (with accompanying essays written by UHD faculty) is as follows:

  • "Alligator-Horses" - An exploration of 1830s America through a 21st century lens, this documentary focuses on the era's male-driven popular culture and its relevance today. A follow-up discussion, "Footnotes to a Square Dance," also focuses on this film.
  • "The De La Peña Diary" - The journal of Jose Enrique de la Peña, a soldier serving under General Santa Anna, is the focus of this film. His controversial memoir detailed the battle of the Alamo and other experiences during the Texas Revolution.
  • "To Put Away the Gods" - This film details the cultural and spiritual crossroads faced by the Lacondan Maya Indians. The older generation holds true to its polytheistic principles while their sons and daughters begin to embrace contemporary beliefs.
  • "Who Killed The Fourth Ward?" - Audiences can revisit 1978 Houston as filmmakers investigate the decline of one of the city's most historic neighborhoods.
  • "Who Will Stand With The Fourth Ward?" - Documentarians return to the Fourth Ward to follow the efforts of community members and activists seeking to preserve the neighborhood.

All of these films can be viewed here in preparation for festival discussions. Participating faculty include Joseph Westfall, associate professor of philosophy; Johanna Schmertz, associate professor of English; William Nowak, associate professor of arts and humanities; Edmund Cueva, professor of classics and humanities; Sucheta Chouduri, associate professor of English, and Chuck Jackson, associate professor of English.

"I've known Ed for many years, and he is unabashedly modest about his talents as a filmmaker and storyteller," said Michael A. Olivas, UHD Interim President. "I look forward to showcasing his work and facilitating discussions on these films. An event like this has been a long time coming; and I am pleased that we are hosting it at UHD. I love films, and I love Ed Hugetz."

Hugetz has always had an affinity for films. He cites Ingmar Bergman's "Wild Strawberries" among the films that influenced him to pursue filmmaking. In the early 1970s, Hugetz served as Texas' Filmmaker-in-Residence--a role supported by a National Endowment for the Arts grant and administered through the Texas Commission on the Arts. In this position, he toured the state in a media van teaching Texans of all ages how to make films about their respective communities

His talent for storytelling, filmmaking, and arts administration have earned additional grants from the Menil Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation and other prominent organizations. As a filmmaker, he regularly collaborates with noted local documentary filmmaker Brian Huberman, associate professor of film at Rice University, and also worked with the late Oscar-nominated filmmaker James Blue. Along with Huberman and Blue, Hugetz founded the Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), a non-profit organization aimed at supporting Houston's independent filmmaking community and promoting film appreciation.

Hugetz joined UHD's administration in 2013 to lead the Division of Academic and Student Affairs on an interim basis. Previously, he served as the University of Houston (UH) associate vice president and UHS associate vice chancellor of Planning and Outreach. Among his duties in this role was overseeing HoustonPBS and KUHF 88.7 FM. Prior to working at UH, he served as a faculty member and interim provost at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Language from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Arts in Humanities from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Throughout his career, Hugetz has balanced his academic, administrative and artistic responsibilities. Although the roles of a provost and filmmaker may not seem similar, Hugetz will tell you otherwise.

"I don't find my role as a provost or educator any different than being a filmmaker," he said. "When I was hired as an administrator many years ago, I was told that working with people, teaching, and telling a good story is part of the job. It turned out that it was true."

The "Alligator-Horses" Ed Hugetz Film Festival is presented by UHD, SWAMP, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, University of Houston-Clear Lake, University of Houston-Victoria, and UH. To attend this event, please register at Eventbrite.

For more information, contact Julie Norton at nortonj@uhd.edu.

Photo credit: Thomas B. Shea