Austin Family of Filmmakers Shoots “The Vessel” in English and Spanish

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Both versions of the film from executive producer Terrence Malick will screen in theaters across Texas and the U.S.

Austin filmmakers Julio and Marla Quintana have taken a bold approach for a diversifying audience of movie-goers, choosing to shoot two versions of their film: one in English and the other in Spanish. “The Vessel” stars Martin Sheen and premiered at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles on September 7th. It will open in both languages at select theaters across Texas and the U.S. this week.

The film is a seven-year project of the Austin-based Quintana family. University of Texas film school graduate Julio Quintana wrote and directed, while Marla Quintana, his wife and a University of Houston alumna, produced. Julio’s brothers also played key roles in the production of “The Vessel”. Lucas Quintana shared a leading part alongside Martin Sheen, while Alex Quintana worked in the camera department, performed stunts, handled special effects and even engineered the symbolic vessel referred to in the film’s title.

“During shooting, we all lived together in a small non-air-conditioned apartment,” said Julio Quintana. “We’re very close as a family and try to work together whenever possible.”

With Julio and Marla being of Cuban and Colombian descent, respectively, “The Vessel” sets aside the Latino stereotypes perpetuated by usual Hollywood fare. Instead it explores themes of faith, miracles and doubt in the face of tragedy. The story centers on an isolated island community that loses its hope in the wake of a natural disaster. Martin Sheen plays a priest struggling to restore faith to the people of his parish, while Lucas Quintana delivers a powerful performance as a young man compelled by a mysterious inner force.

The Quintanas originally wanted to shoot the film in Spanish for the sake of authenticity, but there were some concerns about its reception among English-speaking audiences.

“So we thought, ‘Why not do both?’” said Marla Quintana. “But now that the film’s complete, we’ve been surprised by the demand for a Spanish version with English subtitles, especially among art-house theaters.”

Amazingly, shooting the film in two languages didn’t slow down the production process much. They intentionally cast bilingual actors who could easily flip the switch into Spanish to reshoot after blocking and capturing each scene in English. The entire movie was shot in 25 days on the island of Puerto Rico.

Austin resident and Oscar-nominated director, Terrence Malick, and his producer, Sarah Green, are both executive producers on the film. They have been mentors to Julio and Marla since the young couple started as interns on Malick’s “The Tree of Life”.

As “The Vessel” hits theaters, the Quintanas are already looking ahead to their next project. They are currently developing a scripted TV series with their production company, Bat Bridge Entertainment.

For more information on the film, visit

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Adrian Patenaude
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