When the Taco Bell Film Festival Twitter page started up at the beginning of the year, there was no reason for me to believe that it wasn’t real. But a few tweets, a strange video response, and a deep dive into who might be behind it later, I wasn’t so sure. Was the whole thing just a genius social media hoax? An offbeat marketing ploy from the actual Taco Bell? An inside joke that just went a little too far? Nope, none of the above—it’s legit, and it’s really happening.
This week the festival tweeted out a lineup of nearly 50 submissions that will be screened online March 5-March 6—so the Taco Bell Film Festival 2022 appears to be very real indeed.
There are 46 films on the TBFF 2022 slate, with titles ranging from Crunchwraps and Parliaments to Let’s Give Them Something to Taco Bell About to simply TBFF Submission. The festival guidelines were fairly broad: What does a Taco Bell Film mean to you?
A quick look at some of the filmmakers named on the slate shows a bit of what to expect. Fidel Ruiz-Healy, creator of the festival film Live Mas or Die Mas, is a cinematographer and director who has worked on everything from IHOP commercials to his own award-winning Sundance short film. Filmmaker Gabriella Ricketts, whose entry is intriguingly just called Cat, most recently worked on the documentary Rebel Hearts, about a group of nuns fighting the patriarchy in 1960. And Marcus Pork, maker of Marcus Pork Documentary, is a self-proclaimed soon-to-be-famous fashion designer with quite a TikTok presence.
In short: there will certainly be a range of interpretations. And the combined resumes of the people involved in the fest add up to something that, while still potentially very bizarre, is in fact very legit.
There have been a lot of bumps in the road that seem to further prove this festival has absolutely no affiliation with the chain. The biggest red flag came in recent weeks when the festival’s attempt to legitimize itself with a now reincarnated website, tacobell.film, were thwarted when Yum! Brands, Inc. (Taco Bell’s parent company) asked organizers to deactivate the site, calling it an “impersonation scheme.” A week later, the festival’s Instagram was deactivated (that page is still down).
Still through it all, the Twitter page has stayed alive, and through that new ways to connect with Taco Bell and the TBFF 2022 community have been born. The fest now has a Discord for sharing all festival news, with separate channels for participants to discuss just film or just Taco Bell if they’re no longer interested in fusing their great loves.
And while the first tweets of yesterday’s slate announcement may have seemed nonsensical at first, it may have been a way to slowly get Taco Bell’s blessing on the fest. What appears at first to just be random photos of Los Angeles Taco Bell locations (which does imply that the mystery organizer is based in LA), are actually images of the film festival poster and lineup being stuck onto Taco Bell drive-thrus, windows, and bathroom walls, reaching Taco Bell crowds IRL.
The Taco Bell Film Festival site does now have an FAQ section, the first question being, “Is this real?” The answer: “Yes.” Well, on March 5 and 6 we can see it all for our own eyes at twitch.tv/tacobellfilmfestival.