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UTRGV Film Student Wins Two Awards For Documentary Short

Film based on Spouse’s experience as ICE Agent

Film poster for “Political Agenda,” a short film by UTRGV student Brenda Patricia Garza.

By Santana Peralez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – FEB. 25, 2022 – UTRGV student Brenda Patricia Garza has garnered two awards for a documentary short film based on her husband’s experiences as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent.

The recognitions are from international film competitions – the Best Shorts Competition and the IMPACT DOCS Awards.

“Political Agenda,” the documentary short directed by Garza, an Edinburg native, spotlights the life of her husband, former ICE agent Robert Briseño, and unveils the reality behind what ICE agents go through daily and how those events can affect the agents and their families.

“After years of working for the U.S. Government, a former ICE agent unveils the truth that agents go through as they separate children from their families after they cross the U.S. / Mexico border, and the toll it takes on their personal lives,” Garza said.

“‘Political Agenda’ is literally based on my husband’s experience, and he’s still working through it,” Garza said. “He suffers from PTSD because of this experience and the documentary has a lot to do with how he felt as an ICE agent.”

UTRGV student Brenda Patricia Garza recently won two film awards for her short film “Political Agenda.” (Courtesy Photo)

The documentary short, Garza’s directorial debut, was her first submission to both film competitions.
The UTRGV TV and Film Production post-baccalaureate student said just being accepted into the competitions was a milestone, and because the film hit so close to home, she is particularly proud of the awards.

“I mean, I was crying with happiness. I was crying with awe,” she said. “As a student, you often don’t feel that what you put out is good enough. I am over the moon knowing that my film and my husband’s story were recognized.”

Garza credits her film professor, Dr. Ferenc Moldovanyi, for guiding her to this success.

It’s amazing when you have professors like Dr. Moldovanyi who believe in the work you’re doing. It gives you the confidence you need,” Garza said. “As a student, you often feel unsure of your own work. It isn’t until someone else confirms it for you and tells you, ‘This is really good,’ that you believe it, that this is actually really good.”

Moldovanyi, assistant professor in the UTRGV Theatre, TV and Film department, said Garza is talented.
“I first met Brenda in the last spring semester in my Intro to Film and Video Production class, and with her came fun, humor and plenty of energy,” Moldovanyi said. “She is a strong, positive person with a lot of creativity. She is a visually sensitive student with excellent storytelling skills and the potential to have a promising film career.”

Garza is no stranger to the silver screen. She made her feature acting debut in 2020 as Luisa in the Netflix film, You Are My Home, starring actor and activist Alyssa Milano.

When time allows, Garza follows her passions, which include voiceover work, TV hosting, freelance writing, directing and acting. She still attends classes at UTRGV and currently is cast in a film that will premiere on Netflix later this year, among other acting projects.

Her own short film, she said, has had a profound personal impact.

“My husband is finally getting help,” Garza said. “He’s now visiting a counselor. So that, to me, is by far the best thing that could have come from this, regardless of awards, regardless of what anybody has thought. It was just about getting him the help that he needed to address the issues he had from doing what he was doing.”

Garza said many men and women who serve their countries have potential distress or PTSD from this kind of career.

“I, in all honesty, think that if this documentary does get into the right hands, it would be an eye-opening experience,” she said.

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