Honky Tonk Heaven: Legend of the Broken Spoke to open festival in true Texas fashion
La La Land, Jackie, Lion, Neruda, and Paterson among Houston premieres 
CineSpace returns for second year with award-winning shorts
Immersive cinema highlighted through Fulldome and VR screenings
Women directors set to take center stage with films and AFI Directing Workshop for Women
Panel “False Crime” and Investigative Journalism Panel at UH Downtown
Contemporary Color to close HCAF16 on Main Street Square

HOUSTON — The Houston Cinema Arts Society has announced the full slate of films, guest artists, panels, live performances, and additional highlights coming to the 8th Annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival taking place November 10 – 17.

Houston Cinema Arts Festival 2016 will pay tribute to legendary cinematographer Frederick Elmes and “L.A. Rebellion” director Billy Woodberry; screen special programs of immersive fulldome and VR cinema at arts venues throughout the city; shine a spotlight on independent women directors, including Amber Tamblyn, Beth B, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Celia Rowlson-Hall, and Katherine Dieckmann; showcase critically acclaimed upcoming releases garnering awards buzz such as La La Land and Jackie; and host a wide array of talents from Brazilian director Eryk Rocha to actress Judith Ivey to media installation artist Amie Siegel to live performers Slanty Eyed Mama and Dale Watson.

Honky Tonk Heaven: Legend of the Broken Spoke by Houston-bred filmmaker Sam Wainwright Douglas and Brenda Mitchell will open this year’s festival on Thursday, November 10 at Museum of Fine Arts Houston, accompanied by a performance from popular Texas country artist Dale Watson. HCAF16 Opening Night will kick off over 50 unique media programs over the course of eight days spread throughout some of the city’s most hallowed venues.

Among the additional highlights during the Houston Cinema Arts Festival 2016 is the return of CineSpace – a short film competition presented in partnership with NASA – which was held for the first time at HCAF15 and judged by Richard Linklater. The Academy Award-nominated director returns as judge for this year’s competition, awarding the top three of 459 entries from around the world – more than double the number of entries received last year. The CineSpace ceremony will be held on Sunday, November 13 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

That same evening in the HMNS planetarium, HCAF16 will host its first presentation of short “fulldome” arts films. These films have been specifically crafted for immersive viewing in this emerging presentation format and will include selections from Danish filmmaker Maarten Isaak de Heer, Ben Ridgway, as well as the Submersive dance trilogy from England – all of which will be presented under the banner of Fulldome Dance and Animation.

Continuing the exploration of immersive cinema, HCAF16 will offer special virtual reality exhibits at the Brandon Gallery beginning on Friday, November 11. The VR Gallery will include an Oculus Rift VR experience and a video installation by visiting Netherlands-based artist Maarten Isaak de Heer, a VR complement to the festival film Notes on Blindness that takes the user inside the experience of being blind, The Guardian’s 6X9, Rachel Rossin’s VR painting for Oculus Rift I Came and Went as a Ghost Hand, and more examples of innovative cinema created for VR devices.

Women Directors & AFI Workshop

HCAF16 will put women directors at the forefront and devote roughly half of its programming to films directed or co-directed by women. This represents a significant departure from the wider film industry, where women directed less than 5% of the highest-grossing films between 2002 and 2014. Films and guests include:

The AFI Directing Workshop for Women Showcase will screen three works by emerging women directors from the AFI Workshop and be followed by a panel discussion addressing efforts to expand women’s representation in feature film production. Special guests include Tessa Blake, Directing Workshop for Women coordinator, DWW filmmakers Jean Lee and Dime Davis, and many of the women directors in HCAF 2016.

Director Cheryl Nichols and special guest actress Judith Ivey will co-present Cortez. The film is a beautiful relationship drama about Jesse, a semi-famous musician, and Anne, a former lover with whom he reconnects.

Choreographer/filmmaker Celia Rowlson-Hall will present her first feature, MA, a modern silent film, and a program of her short dance, music, and fashion videos, in collaboration with Aurora Picture Show.

Writer-director-actor Amber Tamblyn and producer Amy Hobby will present Paint It Black, which will be copresented by Southwest Alternative Media Project. Janet Fitch, author of the Oprah Book Club selection White Oleander and the novel on which Tamblyn’s film is based, will accompany the duo. Amber Tamblyn will also give a poetry reading at Brazos Bookstore.

Director Katherine Dieckmann will present her film Strange Weather, a poignant, lyrical drama about a mother (Holly Hunter) who, in an effort to deal with the grief over the death of her son, travels the back roads of the Deep South to settle a score.

Director Leslie Iwerks will present Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table, a documentary about the force of nature behind Houston’s Brennan’s and then Commander’s Palace, and a pioneer of the modern American food movement.

Filmmaker Beth B, legendary New York No Wave underground filmmaker, will present her two latest films Call Her Applebroog, a personal portrait of legendary painter Ida Applebroog, Beth B’s mother, and Exposed, a no-holds-barred look at eight boundary-breaking burlesque stars who use their naked bodies as canvases.

Guest artist Akosua Adoma Owusu, a Ghanaian-American video artist, will screen her work at The Brandon at Brasil and HMAAC. Kenyan artist Wangechi Mutu’s The End of Carrying All will be projected on the big wall of the MFAH Cullinan Hall throughout the festival. MFAH Curator Alison Greene and Owusu will talk about Mutu’s work and African media art.

A Cinematic Tour of Houston’s Arts

Guests will be transported to diverse partner venues on each night of the 2016 Houston Cinema Arts Festival.

Houston Museum of African-American Culture (Nov. 11): Billy Woodberry and his landmark 1983 film Bless Their Little Hearts, a bleak yet poignant film that depicts the struggle of a family as it copes with unemployment, desperation, and tremendous adversity set against the backdrop of Los Angeles in the 1970s. The tribute to Billy Woodberry will continue at Sundance Cinemas with his first new films in decades, And When I Die I Won’t Stay Dead and Marseilles Apres la Guerre.

The Menil Collection (Nov. 12): Media artist Amie Siegel will present her unique installation Provenance, which explores the global trade of furniture from the Indian city of Chandigarrh, and discuss her work with Menil curator Toby Kamps.

Houston Museum of Natural Science (Nov. 13): Second annual CineSpace awards presentation and Fulldome Dance and Animation short film program.

Aurora Picture Show (Nov. 14): Celia Rowlson-Hall – a rising star in the world of choreography, dance, and visual art – will profile several of her short videos, including the hilarious and disturbing The Audition.

Rice Media Center (Nov. 15): Brazilian filmmaker Eryk Rocha, son of legendary cinematic auteur Glauber Rocha, will screen his jazz film JARDS. Rocha will additionally screen his documentary about the radical cinematic movement his father led, Cinema Novo, at Sundance Cinemas.

Asia Society Texas Center (Nov. 16): Kate Rigg and Lyris Hung – the uproarious duo known as Slanty Eyed Mama – will give a live performance to complement a screening of Happy Lucky Golden Tofu Panda Dragon Good Time Fun Fun Show: The Movie at the Asia Society. They will be joined by director Carrie Preston, best known for her acting on True Blood and other film and television appearances.

Art Blocks at Main Street Square (Nov. 17): Contemporary Color – a film about a unique concert event matching color guard performers with musicians (including St. Vincent, Ad-Rock, and Nelly Furtado), organized by legendary musician David Byrne at the Barclays Center in the summer of 2015 – will close the festival at a free outdoor screening on Art Blocks at Main Street Square in the Downtown District. The event will kick off with a boisterous routine from local color guard groups and help end HCAF16 in exclamatory fashion.

Premieres of Awards Contenders

The festival will feature no shortage of high-profile advance screenings of films making their Houston debut in advance of their national releases and likely Academy Award nominations.

Jackie is a searing and intimate portrait of one of the most important and tragic moments in American history, seen through the eyes of the iconic First Lady, then Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (Natalie Portman). It is directed by Pablo Larrain, who also directed Neruda.

La La Land, directed by Damien Chazelle (Whiplash), whose debut feature Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench screened in the inaugural Houston Cinema Arts Festival in 2009, is a wildly entertaining reinvention of the movie musical costars Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone.

Lion is a sensational new feature starring Dev Patel, Nicole Kidman, and Rooney Mara. It is based on Saroo Brierley’s memoir of his experiences as a child lost in Calcutta and as an adult who, with the help of Google Earth, tracked down his original family.

Neruda casts Gael García Bernal as a policeman, an invention of the mind of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, who pursues Neruda on behalf of the Chilean junta.

Paterson, Jim Jarmusch’s latest film, quietly observes the triumphs and defeats of daily life in Paterson, New Jersey, where a bus-driving poet named Paterson (Adam Driver) lives with his creative and loving wife, drives a bus, and writes poetry.

Tributes to Frederick Elmes & Horton Foote

HCAF16 will pay tribute to legendary cinematographer Frederick Elmes with a 30th anniversary screening of the classic David Lynch film Blue Velvet and the Houston premiere of the aforementioned Paterson, which Elmes shot. Following the Blue Velvet screening, Elmes will be interviewed by Bun B, Houston rap star and passionate cinephile. Elmes will also present a Master Class on cinematography at The Brandon Gallery in Café Brasil.

The festival will also honor Wharton native Horton Foote on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Script supervisor Anne Rapp will present an excerpt from her upcoming documentary on Foote and introduce the Foote-scripted masterpiece, Tender Mercies, which was Rapp’s first script supervising assignment. This event is co-sponsored with Austin Film Festival’s “On Story.”

“False Crime” and Investigative Journalism Films & Panel

A special component of the 2016 Houston Cinema Arts Festival will be a focus on Texas filmmakers and writers working In the “false crime” genre exposing cases of wrongful imprisonment. HCAF16 will screen Until Proven Innocent and Booger Red, both of which are films based on investigative Texas Monthly articles that helped exonerate prisoners in the Texas penal system.

On Thursday, November 17 at the University of Houston Downtown, a panel discussion will expand upon the two films being screened and feature a distinguished panel comprised of Until Proven Innocent filmmakers Anthony and Jenna Jackson, Booger Red filmmaker Berndt Mader, exonerated prisoner Anthony Graves, prominent Houston defense attorney John Raley, Houston Innocence Network founder David R. Dow, Texas Monthly Senior Editor David Mann, and former Texas Monthly contributor and filmmaker Al Reinert. University of St. Thomas Professor and attorney Nicole Casarez, who helped exonerate Anthony Graves, will moderate the panel.

The Fabric That Weaves All of Houston’s Arts Together

Other highlights include the second year of ArCH at HCAF, screenings of architectural films beginning with director Jonathan Parker’s presentation of The Architect and co-sponsored with the Architecture Center, and more of the best new films about the arts, including Tilda Swinton’s The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger; Carlos Saura’s Argentina, and Burden.

The complete schedule is available at
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Previous press releases may be found here:


Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) is a non-profit created in 2008 with the support of former Houston Mayor Bill White and the leadership of Franci Neely. It organizes and hosts the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, a groundbreaking and innovative festival featuring films and new media by and about artists in the visual, performing and literary arts. The festival celebrates the vitality and diversity of the arts in Houston and enriches the city’s film and arts community. HCAS sponsors include Premier Sponsor Houston First Corporation, Signature Sponsor Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Featured Sponsor Levantine Films, Media Sponsor Texas Monthly and many others. HCAS is also supported in part by grants from the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, The Brown Foundation, Inc. and Texas Commission on the Arts. The 8th Annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival will take place from Nov. 10-17, 2016.

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