Film by Dominican friar earns IndieFest awards

Southern Province

Fr. Armando P. Ibáñez, OP (St. Martin de Porres), writer-producer-director, received two IndieFEST film awards—Award of Excellence and Award of Merit Special Mention—for his documentary, “South Texas Gentle Men of Steel – Los Padres.” Fr. Armando, a native of San Diego, Texas, is president of Pluma Pictures, Inc., which produced the film. He is also director and assistant professor of Radio-Television-Film (RTF) at Texas A&M University-Kingsville.

The film is a tribute to the last two Spanish Dominican friars—Fr. Benito Retortillo, OP, and Epifanio “Epi” Rodriguez, OP, who left San Diego, Texas, and returned to their homes in Spain last year, ending an 82-year presence of Spanish Dominican friars in central South Texas. The film is also about the great impact Dominican friars had on the lives of many Mexican Americans in South Texas, who struggled against poverty and discrimination.

“The film represents a chapter of the ongoing universal story of people grappling to understand and accept each other as equals,” says Fr. Armando. “It is a chapter that traces its roots to the Spanish Conquista—a wrestling match of greed and brutality against equality and salvation. It is part of the universal story that began with Cain slaying his brother Abel.”

Another San Diego, Texas, native, Emmy Award nominee Joe O. Barrera, is the documentary’s music composer and supervisor. In addition, award-winning editor, special effects and animator, Todd Schmidt, is the documentary’s co-producer. Neil de la Peña ia director of photography, and Alan Jouet is audio engineer.

Pluma Pictures, Inc., board of directors includes Dr. Thomas M. Hedberg, vice president, Fr. Christopher Renz, OP; Secretary, Ned Greene, Treasurer, Fr. Bruce Schultz, OP, Dr. James Moises, Laurie Scheer, Michael Paz, and Dr. Erlinda Grey.

The IndieFEST Film Awards recognizes film, television, videography and new media professionals who demonstrate exceptional achievement in craft and creativity, and those who produce standout entertainment or contribute to profound social change. Entries are judged by highly qualified professionals in the film and television industry. Information about the IndieFEST and a list of recent winners can be found at