Gabriel Ponniah, Editor In Chief, TEXAS Screen Scene
My name is Gabriel Ponniah, and I had the privilege of serving as #AniFab’s resident critic for the AniFab 21. Some of you reading this may remember me from the festival, lurking in the lower rows, notebook at the ready. I even had the privilege of speaking with many filmmakers in attendance, and I hope that those wonderful conversations will shine through in the reviews to come. But fear not, if you missed out on this year’s festivities, for it’s now my job to review the experience on the whole for both attendee and absentee alike. And who knows—maybe I’ll see a few more of your smiling faces when next we come together to watch more animal stories. This was me last year.
I graduated in May 2021 from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in Radio-Televisoin-Film. I also attended the UT Los Angeles study/work program which gave me the opportunity to learn and grow in the heart of the film industry. I gained experience writing coverage, rolling calls, project research, and I learned more about film and tv development as well as talent management with Phoenix Pictures and Stein Entertainment. In addition to this, I wrote, directed, shot, and produced multiple video projects both for my major and as the videographer for the Longhorn Band.
Gabriel is looking forward to reviewing many of the AniFab 22 movies, and will be helping to determine who goes home with hardware this year too.
Keira Marti is from Austin, Texas More specifically, Keira is an Austin filmmaking cheerleader!
Keira is a City Producer for the Austin 48 Hour Film Project. The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and a team make a movie - write, shoot, and edit - in just 48 hours. On Friday night, teams draw a genre from a hat. They are then given a character, prop and line to include in their films. On Sunday night, in a wild dash to the drop off event, the film is turned in - and teams celebrate. The film is then screened at a local theater in front of an audience of filmmakers, friends and families.
The 48 Hour Film Project strives to create an inclusive environment that encourages representation for all communities. "The 48 is not just for people who have the training, and it's for anybody who doesn't even fit the Hollywood mold," Austin project producer Keira Marti said. "I would love to see filmmakers from every type of community here. I would love for everybody to come and make a film."
Over my 20+ years of experience, I continue to come back to rescue. Saving, and changing, lives and speaking up for those who don't have a voice is very important to me.
Working as a vet tech, groomer, wildlife rehabilitator, and manager of a rescue organization has set me up to be a successful as Executive Director of Bears Etc. I love sharing my passion with others and encouraging them to leave the planet better than we found it.
K9 Service With A Twist was created to support the growing need for professionally trained service dogs in and around the San Antonio area…and to help prison inmates.
A few years ago, while working for a large Service Dog organization, I witnessed firsthand the awe-inspiring, unexplainable intuition of a proper working service dog. I was at a public access test and watched as a Vietnam veteran struggled to stay calm while he was separated from his service dog. After only about 8 minutes they were reunited, and that Great Dane mix walked right over to him and put her big paw on his leg as if to say, “I’ve got you.” She let him stroke her head and grab her paw while he quickly settled down and his tremors subsided. I knew then I always wanted to be a part of this incredible, magical bond, even if it was just in some small way. I wanted to be a little more connected to the dogs and people who they were saving... because that's exactly how powerful this can be.
Catherine Laria, owner of K9 Country Club and Training Academy in Bulverde, TX is one of the most accomplished dog agility handlers and trainers in South Texas. For almost three decades, she has competed in a variety of dog sports including Agility, Herding, Dock Diving, Barn Hunt, and Obedience. Catherine and her Whirlwind Border Collies have competed at the highest level throughout the country and internationally. They have been finalists in regional and national competitions every year since 2010, and have represented Team USA in the world championships.
Over the years Catherine has developed a keen sense for noticing what a dog is seeing, hearing, or feeling versus what the handler or owner think they are communicating. This experience has led her far beyond the scope of dog sports.
Catherine is also the Executive Director and Head Trainer for the Paws in Prison program out of the Gregory S. Coleman Unit in Lockhart, Texas. Since 2019, Catherine has been developing a program that is focused on rehabilitation and reentry for the women who participate, educating inmates for greater responsibility and empathy through the rescue and training of shelter dogs to be adopted by the public. Catherine and the Paws in Prison program were featured in the CBS “That Animal
Rescue Show” in 2020 and was part of Anifab, the Animalis Fabula Film Festival in 2021.
In 2021 Catherine founded the K9 Service With A Twist, 501c3. K9SWAT was created as a way for her to give back to the two organizations she is most passionate about, wounded warriors who need service dogs and the inmate participants of the paws in prison program. Both groups share experience in having an incredibly difficult time navigating the world we live in today. So K9SWAT was formed to support and inspire programs that focus on a second chances at life for military veterans, prison inmates, and the shelter dogs we rescue. www.k9swat.org
Jay has had a love of great film ever since he saw Fellini's "La Strada" when he was 6 years old. PBS was showing a classic foreign film every Friday night and Jay watched them all. Then later, film studies and drama in school. In college a major in Computer Science and a minor in Film Studies.
Jay has been acting for 18 years now with agents in Texas, Georgia, Hawaii and New Mexico. Recent bookings - the scammer in a Magnum PI, Renee Zellweger's lawyer in The Thing About Pam, and the bartender in Miranda Lambert's mega hit video "If I Was A Cowboy". Jay has been writing/acting/making films with Gerry Olert which have been winning awards in festivals around the globe. His latest feature film "Heart Cycles" is winning awards for screenplay, feature film, acting, score, cinematography and directing,
Jay always had pets growing up in San Antonio (and Comfort, TX) as well as a love for Nature and all animals. About 20 years ago, with his computer science background Jay created a huge software & database system that helps people find their pets in animal service facilities/pounds and through neighborhood posts. The 501(c)(3) Pet Search and Rescue, Inc.
Brenda Patricia Garza is an actress, voice-over artist and television host with over 20 years of experience in the broadcast and entertainment industry.
Brenda has appeared in an array of commercials, films and music videos. Her breakout role came with "You Are My Home," a film currently streaming on Netflix. She recently became an award winning director with her documentary short, Political Agenda. Brenda's efforts to support the arts can be seen throughout her native region of the Rio Grande Valley. As Chair of Public Relations for the South Texas International Film Festival and talent consultant for local aspiring actors, her dedication and commitment to the arts can be seen Valleywide.