With daily headlines announcing the latest threat against immigrant communities, its rare nowadays to see a festive occasion honoring this population. But the Workers Defense Project, an organization that advocates for labor rights, thinks it's exactly the right time to commend the work their members have dedicated throughout the years to working, immigrant families, including fighting for paid sick leave and training workers on their employment rights.
On Aug. 4, the group will host a Selena-themed celebration from 4-7 p.m. at their 5604 Manor Road office. The shindig — which encourages guests to dress up in their favorite Selena costume — is open to Austinites already engaged in supporting low-wage workers and immigrant communities as well as those who want to learn more about how to get involved.
Guests will enjoy food and music as well as learn more about top community leaders during an awards program.
"Especially in times like these, when immigrant communities and working Texans are under attack every day, celebrating each other and our communities is the ultimate form of resistance,” said Mayra Huerta, the Workers Defense Project’s Austin campaign manager.
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During a 2009 life-changing mission trip to El Salvador, Austin singer-songwriter Gina Chavez and her wife Jodi Granado saw how transformational a college education could be for the girls who they taught English to at an all girls' school in San Salvador's gang-dominated suburb of Soyapango.
When the couple returned to Austin, they founded the Niñas Arriba college fund. Since then, annual benefit concerts have raised more than $15,000 for scholarships. Over the years, Chavez and Granado have seen the scholarship recipients go from students to professionals pursuing career goals that were not possible without a higher education.
This year's 8th annual benefit Aug. 3 gives music lovers a chance to enjoy a summer concert for a good cause. Swing by Antone's on East Fifth Street from 7-11 p.m. for music by Chavez, best known for her bilingual folk-pop, as well as music by Austin-based duo The Wind and The Wave and electro-pop band Shy Beast.
Tickets, which range from $20-$65, are available at antonesnightclub.com. Doors open at 7 p.m., when there's also a VIP reception upstairs. VIP tickets include food, cocktails, early access to the silent auction, a pre-show mixer with the artists and concert seating.
For more hot, summer music head over to Stubb's indoors on Aug. 17, when Latin Grammy nominee El Dusty headlines the 10th anniversary party celebrating Press Junkie PR, a local music public relations firm specializing in eclectic music from around the world. The husband-and-wife duo behind the company, Ryan and Mercedes Romana, have helped bring underrepresented music to the forefront working with artists such as Grupo Fantasma and Ruben Blades. The City of Austin plans to proclaim Aug. 9 as “Press Junkie PR Day.”
Dance the night away with a free show featuring psychedelic Brazilian band Frederico7, soulstress Kelly Hafner, and DJ Vanessa La Bestia. Doors open at 9 p.m.
While at the party, attendees will also have a chance to donate and learn more about the SIMS Foundation, which provides mental health and substance use recovery services for musicians, music industry professionals, and their families.
Summer Latin American movies
The Cine Las Americas International Film Festival may have been this spring, but that doesn't mean you can't catch some of the film festival's award-winning movies anymore. CineNoche, a film series co-presented by Cine Las Americas and the Violet Crown Cinema, gives cinephiles an opportunity to watch Latin American films on the big screen throughout the year, boosting the offerings of diverse movies showing in Austin. Any movies not in English are subtitled and screenings are open to the public.
August brings two chances to catch the festival's Jury Audience Award Winner for Best Narrative Feature "Ocho de cada diez" or "Eight out of Ten." Director Sergio Umansky Brener was struck by the statistic that eight out of 10 murders in Mexico are not investigated and built a dramatic thriller around the idea.
The film tells the story of Aurelio and Citlali, who meet each other at a small Mexico City hotel during the darkest moment of their lives — his son has just been murdered in broad daylight and she's an immigrant forced to leave her daughter with the child's violent father. Aurelio feels compelled to avenge the murder of his young son.
Catch the first screening at 7 p.m. Aug. 7 or 11 a.m. Aug. 11. Tickets, available at austin.violetcrown.com, cost $11.