Porvenir, Texas documentary shines light on dark chapter in state history

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new documentary film is shining light on a massacre carried out more than one hundred years ago in Texas.

On January 24, 1918, a group of Texas Rangers came into the village of Porvenir on the U.S. side of the border with Mexico. They forced 15 men and boys out of their homes, who were taken away and executed.

Public outcry after the incident led to the disbanding of the Ranger company responsible for the killings. But the history has stayed hidden from many Texans.

“My husband and I ran across this story sort of by accident in 2016,” said Christina Fernandez Shapter, director of the new documentary Porvenir, Texas. Her husband, director Andrew Shapter, discovered the story while scouting locations in west Texas for a different film project.

Andrew Shapter died in February after battling cancer. He was 52 years old.

“I had to make a really hard decision if I was going to pull forward with finishing this film,” Christina said. “I decided it was something that he was so passionate about that I needed to make sure that it happened.”

She credited executive producer Hector Galan and his wife Evy for helping to finish the task. The film debuted last month as part of the PBS series VOCES. The full film is streaming online for a limited time.

Porvenir, Texas will have its big-screen debut Tuesday night at the Paramount Theater in downtown Austin. For Christina, it brings both the joy of celebrating a completed film and a reminder of the loss of her husband.

“I hope that this film can be a testament to how you can persevere, how you can move through those challenges and find some kernels of hope and love that you can hold onto,” she said. “And that’s what this film is for me. This is my husband’s love letter.”

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