Julie Taymor to open festival with A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Wild, The Imitation Game among special film presentations

Live performances include Thomas Allen Harris’ Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow and Deke Weaver’s Wolf

Street Scenes: Street Photography and the Moving Image exhibition highlights film and photography by guests James Nares, Cheryl Dunn, Ken Jacobs and Jem Cohen

Houston Ballet/Lang Lang collaboration Sons de L‘âme (“Sounds of the Soul”) to make U.S. Premiere

Dior and I, with director Frédéric Tcheng, will be the Closing Night Film with a discussion moderated by Lynn Wyatt


HOUSTON – The Houston Cinema Arts Festival (HCAF), which annually celebrates artists in the visual, performing, and literary arts, unveiled its full 2014 programming and slate of guest artists today including the bestowing of its annual Levantine Cinema Arts Award to director James Ivory. Tony Award winner Julie Taymor (The Lion King) will open the festival with a screening of her 2014 film A Midsummer Night’s Dream, while Academy Award contenders Wild and The Imitation Game join a roster of 50 programs during the Nov. 12-16 festival that includes a nightly series of live performances, a street photography exhibition and an emphasis on films by and about artists at venues including Sundance Cinemas Houston and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH).


Ivory, a three-time Academy Award-nominee (A Room With a View, Howards End, The Remains of the Day) will present three of his films at HCAF 2014. He will receive the Levantine Award, presented by Levantine Films, before showing his most recent feature, City of Your Final Destination (2009), accompanied by novelist Peter Cameron. Ivory also will present and discuss one of his personal favorites, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge (1990), based on the Evan S. Connell novel, and The Remains of the Day (1993), based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel. He follows previous Levantine Award winners Isabella Rossellini (2010), Ethan Hawke (2011), Robert Redford (2012) and Richard Linklater (2013).

Taymor will open the festival on Wednesday, Nov. 12, with the red-carpet Houston premiere of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a cinematic experience of her highly acclaimed production of Shakespeare’s intricate and joyous comedy. The film will be followed by a conversation with Taymor moderated by Greg Boyd, Artistic Director of the Alley Theatre. The first woman to win a Tony for Best Direction of a Musical (The Lion King), Taymor also has directed feature films including Titus (1999), Frida (2002), Across the Universe (2007) and The Tempest (2010).


Other special guests include DeeDee Halleck, noted media activist and founder of the national public access series Paper Tiger TV, who will showcase her activist work in a program co-hosted by SWAMP (Southwest Alternate Media Project) plus collaborations with important visual artists including Robert Frank, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson and Nancy Holt; director Catherine Gund and choreographer Elizabeth Streb, who will present their documentary BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity; director Jennifer Grausman and Mark Landis, who will present Art and Craft, a profile of Landis, one of the most prolific art forgers in U.S. history; and Brazilian director and screenwriter Marcelo Gomes, one of the preeminent filmmakers in South America, who will present his critically acclaimed The Man of the Crowd (2013), adapted from Edgar Allan Poe’s story, and Once Upon a Time Veronica (2012).


Oscar contenders Wild and The Imitation Game are among the highlights of the special film presentations at HCAF 2014. In Wild, director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon and Academy Award nominated screenwriter Nick Hornby bring to the screen bestselling author Cheryl Strayed’s extraordinary adventure of hiking more than 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail on her own. The Imitation Game stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley in a dramatic portrayal of extraordinary British World War II hero Alan Turing, the mathematician and cryptanalyst who cracked the seemingly unbreakable Nazi war codes.


Other highlights of HCAF 2014 include The Sound and the Fury with producer Lee Caplin and Clouds of Sils Maria. Fury is Academy Award nominee James Franco’s adaptation of the classic William Faulkner novel, in which he plays the role of Benjy. Clouds of Sils Maria, a Palme d’Or nominee at Cannes, is celebrated French director Olivier Assayas’ rich psychological study of aging star Maria Enders, played by Juliette Binoche, with a stirring supporting performance from Kristen Stewart.


Live cinema” performances are an annual trademark of the festival. This year’s rich slate features the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion Roadshow with Thomas Allen Harris in the Eldorado Ballroom at Project Row Houses; Time Squared: A “Nervous Magic Lantern” performance by legendary avant-garde filmmaker Ken Jacobs at Aurora Picture Show; Wolf: A live performance by Deke Weaver at Rice Media Center; and Revolve on Camera: The Performances with Benjamin and Heather Epps and Revolve Dance Company of Spring, Texas, at the MFAH.


HCAF is devoting its “Cinema on the Verge” section of media art installations to the theme of Street Scenes: Street Photography and the Moving Image. A special gallery exhibition featuring the street photos and videos of guest artists James Nares, Jem Cohen, Ken Jacobs and Cheryl Dunn will be on display at the Brandon Gallery at Café Brasil in Montrose. Each artist also will screen works at the festival. The Brandon will be headquarters of the festival’s experimental “Cinema on the Verge” programming, “Meet the Makers” workshops and panels and annual Cinema Arts Celebration on Saturday, Nov. 15. The Street Scenes exhibition will be supplemented by Roadside Kestrel/Mountain Pine Beetle, a video installation by Cary Wolfe and Maria Whiteman at Rice University.


HCAF 2014 will present the U.S. premiere of the documentary dance performance film Sons de L’âme (“Sounds of the Soul”), choreographed by Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch, who will accompany the premiere at Miller Outdoor Theater, and set to piano pieces by Frédéric Chopin performed by Lang Lang, the legendary Chinese concert pianist. The film, which premiered to standing ovations at the historic Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris in October 2013, will be the culmination of HCAF 2014’s free nightly Music on Film series that also features Jalanan (“Streetside”), a dynamic new film on street musicians in Jakarta; Living Stars, a compilation of everyday people dancing in their homes and workplaces in Buenos Aires; and Stations of the Elevated, a visual city symphony by Manfred Kircheimer documenting early graffiti art on New York subways and streets, with a score by Charles Mingus – all showing at Café Brasil.


Houston’s own Tim Guinee (Stargate SG-1, Elvis, Revolution), a graduate of the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, will present One Armed Man, an acclaimed short film adaptation of a play by his late father-in-law, Pulitzer Prize winner Horton Foote. The film will show to the general public and separately to local students as part of the festival’s annual Field Trip Program. More than 125 students from HSPVA will attend Guinee’s field trip presentation of One Armed Man, with longtime HSPVA instructor Bob Singleton moderating the post-film discussion.


Films by and about artists in a wide range of disciplines are the central focus of the festival each year. Among the arts films this year are British artistic filmmaking sensation Joanna Hogg’s Exhibition (architecture); Thomas Allen Harris’ acclaimed documentary Through a Lens Darkly (photography); Muse of Fire (theatre) starring Dame Judi Dench, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen and Alan Rickman; Janus Films’ re-release of the 1983 film Burroughs: The Movie, a look at the burgeoning real-life game of quidditch in Mudbloods and the Houston premiere of Regarding Susan Sontag (literature); Actress (cinema), a profile of Brandy Burre (The Wire) as she attempts to reclaim her life as an actor following a hiatus to start a family; Brazilian director Ale Abreu’s hand-drawn The Boy and the World (animation); and Björk: Biophilia Live (music).


Closing the festival will be Dior and I with director Frédéric Tcheng, who will participate in a post-film discussion hosted by Houston icon Lynn Wyatt. Dior and I brings the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection as its new artistic director—a true labor of love created by a dedicated group of collaborators.


Following the festival, HCAF will present four days of additional programming in a “Spotlight on Texas” showcase from Nov. 17-20 at Sundance Cinemas Houston. “Spotlight” programming includes Tomato Republic, an acclaimed documentary about the Jacksonville, Texas, mayoral race; a Texas Filmmakers Showcase presented by the Houston Film Commission; and Eric Hueber’s Flutter, co-presented by the Austin Film Festival, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Dallas International Film Festival.


HCAF 2014 will center on venues in downtown Houston and the Museum District within easy access of the Metro Rail and B-Cycle stations. Venues include Sundance Cinemas Houston, the MFAH, Aurora Picture Show, Rice Cinema and – new in 2014 – the world-famous Menil Collection, the Brandon Gallery courtyard and the historic Eldorado Ballroom at Project Row Houses. Hotel headquarters for the festival are once again downtown at The Sam Houston Hotel.


The full lineup for HCAF 2014 was announced on Tuesday evening by Houston Cinema Arts Society Executive Director Trish Rigdon and HCAF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz at the festival’s Official Launch Party at the Sam Hotel. For complete information about the program for the 2014 Houston Cinema Arts Festival, please visit hcaf14.org.


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 Neely 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 a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Houston First Corporation, Texas Monthly, Levantine Films, Champion Energy Services, Nabors, 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 sixth annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival will be held Nov. 12-16, 2014. For more information, please visit hcaf14.org.

Mark Sullivan, mark@onthemarkcom.com
Nick Scurfield, nick@onthemarkcom.com
On the Mark Communications