Director Jeffrey Garcia, the ‘Kong of Wrong,’ shows latest offense at Jim Thorpe Indie Film Festival on April 24
Controversial comic filmmaker and music video director Jeffrey Garcia of San Marcos, Texas brings his funny and disturbing first feature, “Henrietta and Her Dismal Display of Affection,” to the Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival at the Mauch Chunk Opera House on Saturday, April 24 at midnight. The boundary-pushing auteur will present his film in person, with a Q&A after the screening.
Garcia, 27, is a JTIFF veteran, road-tripping in dubious vehicles with his gang of “townie” collaborators from central Texas to Pennsylvania to win grindhouse awards for his short films – “Terrance” in 2017 and “Whimsy & Hester” in 2018. This year, Garcia and his girlfriend will be flying in.
“Everyone else is too poor or too paranoid,” he said of his cast, including regular collaborator and artist Furly Travis, who plays the role of Henrietta’s luckless father.
What is Garcia’s 73-minute debut feature about? According to his website, “After a lusty sexual affair leaves a family divided and a father devastated, Henrietta (Alice McAllister) must do what she can to hold on to what little stability her family has left. Along the way, the family encounters a diverse and colorful cast of burnouts and hippies, deviants, and rejects, thrown mercilessly into the mysterious and maddening misfortunes of Reedville, Texas.”
Described by Film Threat as “juvenile, grotesque, silly, racist, misogynistic, insulting, incestuous, ungodly, vulgar, sickening,” “Henrietta” truly goes there – goes anywhere. Garcia is a provocateur with cringe in the crosshairs, a tomato-ducking “Kong of Wrong” for the buttoned-up 21st century.
“When it comes to writing these movies, I like to pretend I’m an inbred chained up to some redneck’s backyard with a typewriter, pounding away at the keys hoping to make the next great ‘Cries & Whispers.’ My movies are for the few that get it and those hip enough to appreciate it.”
“Were we hip enough?” may be the question on everyone’s mind as they stumble out of the festival’s Saturday night Grindhouse Block at the Mauch Chunk Opera House (14 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe).
”It was about time I did a feature,” Garcia noted. “I attempted one at 17 but only got 42 minutes out of it.” This movie “was a 20-page script meant for a short film, but after the second day of shooting, I said fuck it and decided on a feature. None of the actors knew and we just kept shooting for nine months.”
San Marcos is “filled with hippie acid-head burnouts, college [unintelligible], and poor Mexican families.” It’s also home to Texas State University. But Garcia prefers the townie scene, which he deftly dissects and tough-lovingly parodies in “Henrietta” and his short films.
“I’ve been here all my life. I’m one of those locals that never left after high school. Instead of going to college or running away to New York or whatever, I stuck around and made fucked up movies with the townies. I think I made the right choice.”
Asked about the February blizzard that clobbered his home state, Garcia said, “We survived on microwavable gas station burgers and Jack Daniels.”
Garcia works with “random friends or acquaintances who have a smidgen of free time besides working in kitchens and smoking pot – blue collar workers with bills and responsibilities. It’s a consistent rotation of actors, but not everyone is down to clown.”
Does the fearless Garcia still watch movies in the age of CGI and GIFs?
“Yeah, it’s weird man. I don’t really watch movies anymore, except for the occasional Doris Wishman flick. I mostly just read books and stare off into space.”
The Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival will present 90 new short and full-length films from Thursday, April 22 through Sunday, April 25. Read a rundown of the weekend from festival organizers here.
Guest article by Randall Sellers