It’s May, and, for me, that means that planning for the next Houston Cinema Arts Festival will start ramping up. The Cannes Film Festival has just started, and so upcoming fall and winter releases related to our arts theme are just now coming into view. For example, Paolo Sorrentino’s (The Great Beauty) new film, Youth, starring Michael Caine as an aging composer, will premiere in the next few days and I’ll be keeping my eye on the film’s reception and distribution plans.
Since last November’s festival ended, my primary programming efforts have turned to Cinema Pacific, a spring festival I’ve been programming in Eugene and Portland, Oregon since 2010, and that wrapped its sixth edition on May 3. The two festivals I program complement each other. As I wrote in an earlier blog entry, learning about the importance of James Blue to Houston’s film history sparked my efforts to help gain him greater recognition in Oregon, where he was raised and educated. This has inspired several Cinema Pacific screenings of films made and inspired by Blue, including this year’s presentation of a remarkably well-made parody of Hamlet that Blue made while an undergraduate at the University of Oregon.
Also, this year, I took a portion of Deborah Colton Gallery’s 2013 Jonas Mekas exhibition, on which HCAS had collaborated when we jointly brought Jonas Mekas to Houston, and installed it at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene. It’s been a pleasure collaborating with Deborah, and exposing audiences in both Houston and Eugene to this major artist’s cinematic and photographic works.
I have, on several occasions, used Cinema Pacific as an out-of-town tryout for programs that, when they really clicked with audiences, earned an invitation to Houston. People were blown away by Hao Jie’s film The Love Songs of Tiedan in Eugene in 2013; in Houston later that year, I was able to go further and invite the two magnetic leads, Yelan Jiang and Feng Si, to sing and dance onstage at the Asia Society after the screening.
This year, the featured artist at Cinema Pacific was the “father of the New Filipino Cinema,” Kidlat Tahimik, whose classic film The Perfumed Nightmare was a revelation to many. I realized that the film’s fantasy of creating a Third World space program to rival NASA’s will be a wonderful complement to our CineSpace competition. What’s more, Tahimik crosses over art forms, supplementing his screenings with a live performance and a sculptural installation, and so he is perfect for our Houston festival. I have extended the invitation, and you can look forward to meeting Kidlat in November.