OWA Profile: Debbie Cerda, Programmer and Outreach Director

We are so delighted to have a new member on our OWA Team: Debbie Cerda! Debbie has come on board as our Outreach Director where she will oversee community outreach, help with marketing, and most importantly communicate with you, our OWA friends. Keep a look out for her at our events coming up in April and May and be sure you say "hi!” 

1. Where are you from originally and what brought you to the great city of Austin?

I am originally from Houston, Texas, and moved to Austin in July, 1993. I was drawn to this town after spending time with other relocated Houston friends at places on the Drag like Quackenbush's, Wheatsville Co-op, Les Amis, and the awesome record stores. The laidback attitude and gorgeous Hill Country landscape surrounding Austin had great appeal after the concrete potholed jungle of Houston.

2. When did your love of cinema begin?

My love for cinema began at a very young age. The first movie I recall seeing in a movie theater as a child was a Sergio Leone flick with Clint Eastwood. My favorite genre is science fiction, having grown up watching Them and Forbidden Planet every time it was on TV. 

I studied journalism at Texas A&M University, where I volunteered as a deejay and Program Coordinator for KANM Radio. My favorite class was the "History of Film", where I learned an appreciation for Sergei Eisenstein, Fritz Lang, and other master filmmakers.  I was a member of Cepheid Variable at Texas A&M decades ago, and the annual Aggiecon was always a blast for science fiction film screenings.

As an active member of the now defunct Austin Cinemaker Co-op, I participated in the "Make a Film in a Weekend (MAFIA") and "Splice of Life" filmmaking events. As a result, I collect Super 8 cameras and film.

3. What is your experience with other film festivals? 

I spent a lot of time volunteering at movie premieres in Austin for South by Southwest Special Venues Crew. I've covered film festivals across Texas and the U.S. for the last five years for Slackerwood as senior contributor, including Dallas IFF, Fantastic Fest, AFF, Sundance, and Slamdance.

4. What is your favorite SciFi TV show or film?

I can't pick just one! Favorite SciFi TV shows include Twilight Zone (original series), Battlestar Galactica (old and reboot) and Torchwood. My favorite SciFi films include Forbidden Planet and Bladerunner. I would also note that an important science fiction related documentary that is a "must watch" is Jodorowsky's Dune about "the greatest movie never made."

5. What appeals to you most about the SciFi genre?

I've always had an insatiable thirst for learning and knowledge, and I love the technology and unknown of the science fiction genre.

6. What drew you to want to join the OWA team? And what have you enjoyed about being the Outreach Director so far?

I am extremely passionate about science fiction as a genre -- my favorite authors are Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov -- and so I was thrilled that there was a science fiction festival set in Austin. I have enjoyed meeting film festival organizers from all over the world who are supportive of what we are accomplishing with OWA -- filling a void in an underrepresented genre for film audiences.

7. What do you like to do when you are not watching films?

When I am not watching films, I spend a lot of time on other passions -- craft beer is my primary job and obsession. I am also responsible for community outreach for a local brewery. I would like to read more, but there's just not enough time for that.

8. Is there anything else that people should know about you?

Despite how busy I may seem to be, I do sleep, and relax with my little family -- a puppy and two senior cats -- but I'm definitely not a fan of laundry and household chores!