EDINBURG - The 3rd annual South Texas International Film Festival, which ran from Sept. 7-9 in Edinburg, proved to be its biggest yet. This year, the festival screened films from 16 countries and had 19 official selections. People also participated in industry workshops that covered topics like lighting and makeup, including an acting workshop hosted by Valente Rodriguez.

“We’re encouraged when the community comes out to see the films, [when] the local filmmakers are participating in the different workshops. That’s really inspiring,” STXIFF co-founder and Edinburg Director of Library and Cultural Arts Letty Leija said.

To highlight the region, local films kicked things off. An encore presentation of “As I Walk Through the Valley,” directed by RGV natives Charlie Vela and Ronnie Garza, opened the festival. “The Whole,” from Brownsville director Rodrigo Moreno made its debut right after.

The next two days showcased foreign and domestic short and feature-length films, with workshops in between. The final evening was dedicated to the “Eddie” Awards, where nominees and winners of different STXIFF categories were announced.

International films like “The Ravens” from Australia, “Brother” from Mexico and “Wasati” from Saudi Arabia were nominated for various awards, including best ensemble and cinematography. “Antenna,” a German short film directed by Carsten Woike, received four nominations – the most of all the selections – and won best director and best short film. “Stay” and “Jornalero” were the regional winners, and “Blur Circle,” from Baylor University professor and film chair Chris Hansen, won the highest honor of best feature film.

Jonathan Torres, production specialist and committee member for STXIFF, estimates that over 1,000 people attended the three-day festival.

“It’s been growing consistently from the first year until now,” said Torres. “People are more and more excited about it, and now, it’s barely our third year, and we have almost every single filmmaker who won an award was here to accept it. And, that’s really amazing.”

Leija says that with the kind words committee has received about the festival, she is looking forward to next year.

“It’s a festival that is dear to my heart,” said Leija. “I’m excited for next year, I’m excited to see what movies are brought to our community through our festival, and also what the local filmmakers are producing.”