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Mark Sullivan / Nick Scurfield
On the Mark Communications


HOUSTON – The 2013 Houston Cinema Arts Festival (HCAF), which annually celebrates artists in the visual, performing, and literary arts, unveiled a series of programming announcements and special tributes today including the bestowing of its annual Levantine Cinema Arts Award to director Richard Linklater. The award presentation will be followed by a special 20th anniversary screening of his teen movie classic, Dazed and Confused. A sneak preview of a new film presented by actor Thomas Haden Church, a screening of Nebraska with actor Will Forte and a special presentation of August: Osage County with scribe Tracy Letts join the roster of 60 events during the Nov. 6-10 festival, including four live music and film performances and an immersive four-screen feature film.

Linklater, born in Houston and raised in nearby Hunstville, has been a supporter of the HCAF since its inception. He attended the festival in 2009 with Me and Orson Welles and brought his friend Ethan Hawke to join him in presenting Tape in 2011. He will receive the Levantine Award amidst a career renaissance with the 2013 release of one of his finest and most popular films, Before Midnight, following 2012’s equally well-received Bernie.

Prolific producer Ron Yerxa of Bona Fide Productions will be honored at HCAF 2013 with a tribute as he brings his anticipated film Nebraska, accompanied by lead actor Will Forte, to the festival along with Charlie Countryman, represented by director Fredrik Bond. Yerxa and Albert Berger formed Bona Fide Productions in 1993, and their acclaimed productions include King of the Hill (1993), Election (1999), Cold Mountain (2003), Little Miss Sunshine (2006), Little Children (2006) and Ruby Sparks (2012). Forte, a Saturday Night Live cast member from 2002-10, also stars in the upcoming Life of Crime, the adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s novel The Switch. Bond, born in Sweden, is an award-winning advertising director; Charlie Countryman is his first feature.

Oscar-nominated actor Thomas Haden Church will be in attendance with a sneak preview of an unannounced title in advance of its official American premiere this year or next. Director Megan Griffiths and writer/producer Emily Wachtel will accompany Church, who achieved television stardom as the dimwit mechanic Lowell Mather on Wings in the 1990s. Church also made appearances in Tombstone and Broken Trail and had an Academy Award-nominated and Independent Spirit-winning role as an aging playboy in Sideways in 2004. Raised in Laredo, Texas, Church purchased the 2,000-acre Jake Short Ranch in Bandera County in 1999 and runs four cattle ranches and a commercial beef operation in the vicinity.

Writer and actor Tracy Letts will present a screening of August: Osage County, his screenplay based on the play for which he won a Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2008. A sensation at the recent Venice and Toronto Film Festivals, the film tells the dark, hilarious and deeply touching story of the strong-willed women of the Weston family. It features outstanding performances from Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and more.

August: Osage County is one of three Weinstein Company films in the HCAF lineup this year, along with Philomena and One Chance. Philomena was a runner-up for Toronto’s People’s Choice Award. Based on an investigative book by Martin Sixsmith, it details the efforts of a mother to find her son, born out of wedlock, whom she was forced to give up for adoption decades ago, and stars Steve Coogan and Dame Judi Dench. One Chance is the remarkable and inspirational true story of Paul Potts, a shy, bullied shop assistant by day and amateur opera singer by night who became a YouTube phenomenon after being selected for the show Britain’s Got Talent. Fresh off a Tony-winning Broadway run in One Man, Two Guvnors, BAFTA winner James Corden stars as Potts as part of an acclaimed ensemble cast that includes Julie Walters, Mackenzie Crook, Colm Meaney, and rising star Alexandra Roach.

Opening the festival will be Houston native Zachary Heinzerling’s Cutie and the Boxer, complete with a rare public appearance of the real-life artists and film subjects Ushio and Norika Shinohara. The film is a candid and highly entertaining New York love story exploring the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife Noriko. Ushio is known for his abstract paintings, upon which he uses boxing gloves to apply paint, and for his fantastical cardboard figures, while Noriko has gained attention for her inky cartoon-like drawings. Heinzerling was born and raised in Houston and graduated from St. John’s School and the University of Texas at Austin before moving to New York, where he currently lives.

HCAF 2013 will host two of the United States’ preeminent experimental filmmakers, Jonas Mekas and Barbara Hammer, as part of its annual Cinema on the Verge series of experimental films and installations. Mekas, 90, will present his feature Sleepless Nights Stories and conduct a tour of his photography and video exhibition at the Deborah Colton Gallery. Hammer, 74, whose pioneering works of experimental and queer cinema have been celebrated worldwide, will offer a live performance of a new work inspired by Pier Paolo Pasolini, Witness: Palestine, a program of artist portraits, and a pre-festival Master Class at the Glassell School of Art with HCAF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz devoted to her classic works, including Optic Nerve, Dyketactics, Sanctus, Nitrate Kisses, and Generations.

In addition to the tributes to Mekas and Hammer, HCAF’s Cinema on the Verge at the film festival headquarters in downtown Houston will also present Meredith Danluck’s North of South, West of East, an immersive four-screen feature film installation, and Time Shift: The Films of Scott Stark, both accompanied by the artists. A film and photography installation titled Réquiem NN will be presented by guest Colombian artist Juan Manuel Echavarría.

This year’s program is overflowing with international guests. Matias Piñeiro, considered one of the most exciting new directors enlivening the perennially youthful Argentine cinema, will attend this year with his a complete career retrospective on his four features: Viola, Rosalinda, They All Lie and The Stolen Man. The 31-year old director mixes melodrama with sentimental comedy and philosophical conundrum with matters of the heart in his latest film, Viola, which bears all the signature traits of a Piñeiro film: serpentine camera movements and slippages of language, an elliptical narrative and a playful confusion of reality and artifice. Another international highlight will be the bawdy and adventurous Chinese musical comedy The Love Songs of Tiedan, accompanied at the Asia Society Texas Center by an ensemble from China that includes director Hao Jie and actors Feng Si, Yelan Jiang and Ge Xia. Following the screening, the actors will give a special live performance of the “er ren tai” style of Chinese singing featured in the movie.

Live musical performances in the festival program also include a short acoustic set by The Hard Pans (Jimmy Smith and Claude Bernard of popular Austin band The Gourds) after a presentation of The Gourds documentary, All the Labor. And Jeremy Rourke, voted “best new animator/musician” by the San Francisco Weekly in 2011, will give a live music and film performance. Music film classic Wild Style, celebrating its 30th anniversary, will be represented by director Charlie Ahearn, who will also show his new feature documentary Jamel Shabazz Street Photographer.

As part of the festival’s annual goal to highlight the work of Texas filmmakers, HCAF will present An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story directed by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Al Reinert as the closing night film. The festival also will present the world premiere of John Carrithers’ Houston Ballet documentary with special guests from the Houston Ballet past and present, along with Chasing Shakespeare, presented by Dallas-based director Norry Niven. The Houston Film Commission will present the Texas Filmmakers Showcase featuring the best of Texas short films and videos.

Films by and about artists are the central focus of the festival each year. Arts films highlights this year include Before the Spring, After the Fall, in which filmmaker Jed Rothstein (attending) observes the Egyptian revolution through the vantage point of an Egyptian female heavy metal musician. Filmmaker Jonathan Holiff will present his portrait of his father, manager Saul Holiff, and his volatile relationship with his client, Johnny Cash (My Father and the Man in Black), while Kevin Schreck will present his portrait of animation genius Richard Williams, Persistence of Vision. Enzo Avitabile: Music Life is an unforgettable portrait by Oscar®-winning director Jonathan Demme that captures the passion and brilliance of Enzo Avitabile, a world-renowned Neapolitan saxophonist and singer/songwriter. Narco Cultura captures the devastation wreaked by drug cartels and uses stunning imagery to capture musicians whose music portrays the traffickers as glamorous outlaws. The Ballad of the Weeping Spring is an Israeli spaghetti musical western about the reunion of a band of Mizrahi musicians. Two French animated films, Approved for Adoption and Ernest and Celestine, offer portrayals of artists, human and animal. Shepard & Dark explores the friendship of Sam Shepard and Johnny Dark and the perils of long-term friendship. It will be preceded at the festival by Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction and followed by Wim Wenders’ Houston-filmed Paris, Texas, written by Sam Shepard and starring Harry Dean Stanton.

HCAF 2013 will center on venues in downtown Houston and the Museum District within easy access of the Metro Rail Red Line and B-Cycle stations. Venues include Sundance Cinemas Houston, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), Asia Society Texas Center and hotel partner The Sam Houston Hotel – giving HCAF the added and legitimate claim of being a truly walkable festival – along with the nearby Aurora Picture Show and Project Row Houses Eldorado Ballroom.

The announcements were made today at the 2013 HCAF Launch event at the Sam Hotel by HCAF Executive Director Trish Rigdon and HCAF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz.


Houston Cinema Arts Society is a non-profit organization created in 2008 with the support of former Houston Mayor Bill White and the leadership of Franci Crane. HCAS organizes and hosts the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, a groundbreaking and innovative arts 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 the Crane Foundation, a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Levantine Entertainment, Houston First Corporation, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Champion Energy Services, Amegy Bank of Texas, The Brown Foundation, Inc. and others. The project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. The 2013 Houston Cinema Arts Festival was held Nov. 6-10. For more information, please visit HCAS at