Double feature will open HCAF17: Love, Cecil with filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland at MFAH and Bodied with Houston native Joseph Kahn at Rice Cinema

Singin’ in the Rain: A Houston and Cinema Arts Celebration at White Oak Music Hall with Bun B and notable performers from Gulf Coast Entertainment

Call Me By Your Name, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, The Ballad of Lefty Brown, and Bomb City among Houston premieres

World premieres of art films Ash: The Art of Wayne Gilbert and Jesse Lott: Artist in Action by local filmmakers at Aurora Picture Show

CineSpace returns for third year with award-winning shorts from 650 global submissions

Tonya Harding biopic I, Tonya to close HCAF17 at Museum of Fine Arts


HOUSTON — The Houston Cinema Arts Society has announced the complete program of immersive and wide-ranging films, exciting guest artists, special live performances, and additional highlights that will be part of the 9th Annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival from November 9 – 13 at the Museum of Fine Arts, Rice Cinema, and additional partner venues across the city.

The 2017 Houston Cinema Arts Festival will kick off for the first time ever with two Opening Night films on Thursday, November 9th. Filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland, an alumnus of HCAF12, will premiere Love, Cecil about iconic British photographer, costume designer, and larger-than-life personality Cecil Beaton, who won two Academy Awards for his work on Gigi and My Fair Lady. Following the film, Vreeland will have a conversation with international style icon Lynn Wyatt.

At Rice Cinema, native Houstonian, influential music video director, and boundary-pushing filmmaker Joseph Kahn, whose previous films have included Torque and Detention, will present his new film Bodied, a caustic, energetic, and timely look at today’s cultural landscape through the lens of battle rap.

A major highlight of HCAF17 will be Singin’ in the Rain: A Houston and Cinema Arts Celebration at White Oak Music Hall on Saturday, November 11th. The event will feature live performances from notable musical artists, including iconic Houston hip-hop artist Bun B alongside talent from Gulf Coast Entertainment in the form of popular jazz singer Kat Edmonson, who recently appeared in the Woody Allen film Café Society, and others. The musical numbers will be unique renditions of songs from the iconic Gene Kelly film, which celebrates its 65th anniversary in 2017, and will be accompanied by energetic dance routines. As part of the evening, WOMH will donate a portion of the box office proceeds to its Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and to the Houston Cinema Arts Society.

On Friday, November 10th, CineSpace – a short film competition presented in partnership with NASA – returns for the third year and will again be judged by Richard Linklater. Finalists will be presented at Rice Cinema from 650 submissions across the world, which signifies the continued growth of the competition.

World premieres of two films about Houston-based artists will screen in tandem on Sunday, November 12th at Aurora Picture Show. 14 Pews Executive Director Cressandra Thibodeaux will present Jesse Lott: Artist in Action about Jesse Lott, who was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Art League of Houston. This exciting presentation will additionally contain a premiere screening of Ash: The Art of Wayne Gilbert about the eponymous artist who utilizes cremated human remains to create stunning artistic works. Filmmaker Wayne Slaten, whose short film Red Pearl was a prize winner at CineSpace in 2015, will present the film. Artists Jesse Lott and Wayne Gilbert will be in attendance as well.


Premieres of Exciting Fall Titles

HCAF17 boasts a stellar slate of buzzed about festival darlings, major award contenders, and notable upcoming releases.

Call Me By Your Name is a radiant and sumptuous portrait of a budding romance. Directed by HCAF alumnus Luca Guadagnino and written by fellow HCAF alum James Ivory, the film stars Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of northern Italy in 1983, Elio (Chalamet) and Oliver (Hammer) discover and explore the desire and passion of first love over the course of a life-altering summer.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, the People’s Choice Award winner at the Toronto International Film Festival, is a scorching black comedy from acclaimed director Martin McDonagh (In Bruges). The film boasts a stellar cast, including Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson, and Sam Rockwell. In the film, Mildred (McDormand) goes head-to-head with local law enforcement officials after they fail to properly catch her daughter’s murderer.

The Ballad of Lefty Brown is a gritty Western starring screen legends Bill Pullman and Peter Fonda. The film depicts the 63-year-old Lefty Brown’s transition from lifelong sidekick to sudden hero when the title character, portrayed in a career best performance by Pullman, must avenge the death of his lifelong friend Edward Johnson (Fonda) after rustlers kill him on his ranch. At times poignant, brutal, and uplifting, the film received considerable praise when it screened at SXSW earlier this year.

Bomb City is a combustion engine of a film that pits punk rockers in a conservative Texas town against a rival outfit with explosive ramifications following the perpetration of a brutal hate crime. The young cast includes Lorelei Linklater, who recently had a breakout turn in her father’s landmark 2014 film Boyhood.

I, Tonya is a biographical film that depicts the life and saga of embattled ice skater Tonya Harding. Starring Margot Robbie in the titular role, the film will close HCAF17 at the Museum of Fine Arts on Monday, November 13th. Harding’s name lives in sports scandal infamy through her involvement in a brutal attack on fellow Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (Caitlin Carver).


Cinema on the Verge at DiverseWorks and Aurora Picture Show

Cinema on the Verge, a Houston Cinema Arts Festival fixture, will pay tribute to Abigail Child, a distinguished filmmaker, writer, and poet.

Three of Child’s films – Is This What You Were Born For?, The Suburban Trilogy, and Acts and Intermissions, will screen during the course of HCAF17:

Is This What You Were Born For? – Saturday, November 11 at DiverseWorks

The Suburban Trilogy – Sunday, November 12 at DiverseWorks

Acts and Intermissions – Monday, November 13 at Aurora Picture Show

Child, a graduate of Radcliffe College in Harvard University, has been a university instructor, the chair of the Film and Animation department at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston since 2000, and has published multiple literary works in addition to her extensive filmography.


ArCH Film Festival: Activating the City

Two outstanding architecture-related films will be showcased as part of the annual ArCH Film Festival at Rice Media Center.

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (11/11): In 1960, Jane Jacobs’s book The Death and Life of Great American Cities sent shockwaves through the architecture and planning worlds with its exploration of the consequences of modern planners’ and architects’ reconfiguration of cities. Jacobs was also an activist, who was involved in many fights in mid-century New York, to stop “master builder” Robert Moses from running roughshod over the city. This film retraces the battles for the city as personified by Jacobs and Moses, as urbanization moves to the very front of the global agenda.

Columbus (11/13): When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin (John Cho) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana – a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a young architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, Jin and Casey explore both the town and their conflicted emotions.


Music: African Migrations

Music has always played an integral role in the programming for the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, and 2017 is no different. Three films, two of which will be presented by the filmmakers, will document African musical migrations that take audiences on musical journeys of rhythm, sonic exuberance, and cultural expression.

Belén: Belén: Queen of the Quitiplá was a master of the bamboo instrument called the quitiplá’s sounds and silences. The eponymous subject of the film was a cocoa farmer and musician from a small Afro-Venezuelan village who, unaware of her powers, became the main inspiration for her community and for people all over the American continent during her life and after her death. Adriana Vila Guevara’s film is a trip into the puzzle of this woman’s life (and death), captured through more than 100 hours of found footage and expressed through the mirrored gestures of multiple points of view. Guevara will present the film.

Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba: Mama Africa: Miriam Makeba introduces to a new generation of Americans the world-famous South African singer Miriam Makeba and her legacy. Miriam Makeba (1932-2008) spent half a century travelling the world spreading her political message to fight racism, poverty and promote justice and peace. Makeba, whose music was always anchored in her traditional South African roots, was one of the first African musicians to win international stardom.

Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot: This film documents the late musical genius, composer, community activist and jazz mentor, Horace Tapscott. Born in Houston, Texas, he migrated to Los Angeles, California at the age of nine years old. Upon arrival by train, his mother took him to meet his music teacher before he knew where they would live. He attended Jefferson High School, where he met fellow musicians who became well known later in life. Jazz icons Don Cherry and Arthur Blythe share their reflections on their shared music heritage with Mr. Tapscott and his teacher and mentor, Professor Samuel Brown. Filmmaker Barbara McCullough will present.


Dance, Dance, Dance

Houstonians can definitely use a reason to dance, and the 2017 Houston Cinema Arts Festival will give them the outlet to do just that. In addition to Singin’ in the Rain: A Houston and Cinema Arts Celebration, HCAF17 will screen dazzling dance films across multiple venues.

No Maps on My Taps/About Tap (MFAH): Milestone Films’ restoration of No Maps on My Taps and About Tap establishes the two seminal documentaries by George T. Nierenberg as the films that helped revitalize the state of tap dancing. Nierenberg’s real love for the dancers and their art has made this joyous documentary a hit with audiences and critics. The thrilling talent and ebullient charisma of the three dancers profiled shines through in every frame. No Maps on My Taps originally screened in theaters and college campuses and multiple television outlets at home and abroad. The three veteran tap dancers performed live with the film all over the world, helping tap dancing gain a huge multitude of new fans wile simultaneously inspiring thousands of young dancers to put on tap shoes. Director George Nierenberg will present the film.

Rebels on Pointe (Brasil Patio): Exploring universal themes of identity, dreams and family, Rebels on Pointe is the first-ever documentary film celebrating the world famous Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. The notorious all-male, drag ballet company founded over 40 years ago in New York City on the heels of the Stonewall riots and gained a passionate cult following around the world. The film juxtaposes intimate behind-the-scenes access, rich archives and history, engaging character driven stories, and dance performances shot in North America, Europe and Japan.

Pendular (Brasil Patio): As part of an Art & Sex double feature with Flames at Café Brasil, this film offers a glimpse into the life of a young couple as it settles down in a large abandoned industrial warehouse. An orange strip, glued to the floor, partitions the area in two equal portions: to the right, the man’s sculpture atelier; to the left, the woman’s dance studio. Pendular takes place in this setting, where art, performances and intimacy mingle together; and where the characters slowly lose their capacity for distinguishing between their artistic projects, their past and their current romantic relationship.


Additional Films About the Arts

Diverse genres of art blanket each of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival’s venues as programming about the arts runs a through line through HCAF17, fulfilling one of the festival’s core missions to thread all of Houston’s artistic community through film.

A Life in Waves: An additional music film at HCAF17, A Life in Waves explores the life and innovations of composer and electronic music pioneer, Suzanne Ciani. From her earliest days learning the piano, to her multi-million dollar advertising ventures, to her successes in the world of New Age music, to her recent re-connection with her beloved Buchla synthesizer, the film is a journey into Suzanne’s mind, offering a feminine glimpse into the often complicated world of electronic music. Filmmaker Bradford Thomason will present.

Beuys: Thirty years after his death, Joseph Beuys looks like a visionary who was, and still is, ahead of his time. He was the first German artist to have a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, at a time when his work was often still being derided back home in Germany as “the most expensive trash of all time”. In the documentary Beuys, Andres Veiel lets the artist speak for himself. Using previously unpublished audio and video footage. Veiel creates an associative, permeable portrait that — like the artist himself —opens up spaces for ideas rather than making declarative statements.

Flames (part of Art & Sex double feature at Brasil): Filmed over five years, Flames follows real-life couple Josephine Decker (Butter on the Latch, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely) and Zefrey Throwell from the white-hot passion of first love to the heartbreak of the bitter end. High on their intense connection, the pair of artists document their relationship’s every beat, from their adventurous sex life, to their performance art collaborations, to a spur-of-the-moment getaway to the Maldives. But when the romantic vacation doesn’t exactly go as planned, the now-former couple are left to decide what to do with their film-in-progress, and for these two filmmakers, the end of the relationship isn’t the end of the story.

Latest News From the Cosmos: For most of her life, Hélène, who lives with her parents in rural France, did not communicate. And then, at the age of 21 — despite having had no formal schooling or ever having been taught to read or write — she did. By arranging laminated alphabet letters, Hélène created words, then phrases and finally a book, one letter at a time. Under a pen name, this severely autistic woman writes poetry that can be soaring and childlike, surreal and funny, dense with allusions and filled with insight. In a film unlike any other portrait of a writer, director Julie Bertuccelli (School of Babel) prompts the audience to contemplate the nature of creativity and communication, and the hidden potential in humans of all abilities.

Saving Brinton and Silent Films from The Brinton Collection: In a farmhouse basement on the Iowa countryside, eccentric collector Michael Zahs makes a remarkable discovery: the showreels of the man who brought moving pictures to America’s Heartland. Among the treasures: rare footage of President Teddy Roosevelt, the first moving images from Burma, a lost relic from magical effects godfather Georges Méliés. These are the films that introduced movies to the world. And they didn’t end up in Iowa by accident. The old nitrate reels are just some of the artifacts that belonged to William Franklin Brinton. From thousands of trinkets, handwritten journals, receipts, posters and catalogs emerges the story of an inventive farmboy who became America’s greatest barnstorming movieman. Andrew Shelburne and Michael Zahs will present.


The Power of Visual Storytelling Will Be on Full Display at HCAF17

Other festival highlights include the return of HCAF16 alumnus Sam Wainwright Douglas, whose film Honky Tonk Heaven: Legend of the Broken Spoke served as the opening night film at last year’s festival, to present his film Through the Repellent Fence, which follows art collective Postcommodity as it strives to construct Repellent Fence, a two-mile long outdoor artwork that straddles the U.S.-Mexico border; a screening of the immersive 3D film Prototype, which is based upon the Galveston storm of 1900, at iPic; a screening of Body and Soul: An American Bridge, a film that explores the cross-cultural encounters between African Americans and Jews in the United States, at the Jewish Community Center; a presentation of short films by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan at DiverseWorks; and a presentation by local Houston film critic and enthusiast Michael Sicinski of Space is Lit: Recent Experimental Films, a series of short films that engage with the space before the camera, as well as the place viewers sit in to watch them.


*Tickets are now on sale for the 2017 Houston Cinema Arts Festival.*

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