jackie1HOUSTON — With Houston Cinema Arts Festival just under a month away, the programming lineup has added the biopic Jackie from acclaimed Chilean director Pablo Larraín. Starring Academy Award winner Natalie Portman, the film 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 Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. The film follows the First Lady in the immediate days after the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. Jackie has already garnered extensive praise on the festival circuit for Portman’s performance as the former First Lady and will make its Houston premiere at HCAF16.

The annual festival – running from November 10-17 – will release its full schedule at the HCAF16 neruda-gael-garcia-bernal-left-and-diego-mun%cc%83oz-rightLaunch Party on October 25 at The Alley Theatre. Pablo Larraín’s Neruda, starring Gael Garcia Bernal, follows the 1948 manhunt in Chile for famed poet and politician Pablo Neruda and will also be screened at this year’s festival. Both films exemplify Larrain’s unconventional approach to the “biopic” genre and reinforce the Chilean director’s reputation as one of cinema’s most gifted historical surveyors.

Additional films about artistic disciplines screening at HCAF16 include Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, guest filmmaker Beth B’s Call Her Applebroog and Exposed, Carlos Saura’s Argentina, The Architect with guest director Jonathan Parker as part of the ArCH Film Festival, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table with guest director Leslie Iwerks in conjunction with famed Houston restaurant Brennan’s, Bird in the Room and Yarn. Each of these unique films falls squarely into Houston Cinema Arts Festival’s mission to thread art forms of all kinds through film.

Films About the Arts

mayaangelou_02Literature: Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise celebrates Dr. Maya Angelou by weaving her words with rare and intimate archival photographs and videos, which paint hidden moments of her exuberant life during some of America’s most defining moments. From her upbringing in the Depression-era South to her work with Malcolm X in Ghana to her inaugural speech for President Bill Clinton, the film takes viewers on an incredible journey through the life of a true American icon.



00-holding-call-her-applebroogPainting: Call Her Applebroog is a deeply personal portrait of acclaimed New York–based artist Ida Applebroog that was shot with mischievous reverence by her filmmaker daughter, Beth B. Born in the Bronx to Orthodox Jewish émigrés from Poland, Applebroog, now in her 80s, looks back at how she expressed herself through decades of drawings and paintings, as well as her private journals.



Burlesque Performance: Beth B’s additional HCAF16 feature Exposed looks at eight boundary-rosewood-in-goldswirlbreaking New York burlesque stars who use their nakedness to transport us beyond the last sexual and social taboos. These artists combine politics, satire, and physical comedy to challenge the audience’s notions of gender identity, disability, sexuality and the very concept of normal. The film creates a unique perspective, taking the audience into the clubs and other hidden spaces where these artists perform. Filmmaker Beth B will be in attendance at HCAF16.



balletdekokiDance and Music: Argentina explores the heart of traditional Argentine folklore via a series of choreographed tableaux retracing a history rich in original culture. The mise en scène of the dance mixed with awe-inspiring traditional songs performed by the musicians make it unique. Poetic, riveting and moving, this live performance choreographed by Carlos Saura evokes the entire history of Argentina set to the tune of guitars and accordions.



_drew-colin-miles-construction-siteArchitecture: Co-presented with the Architecture Center as part of “ArCH at HCAF,” a series of architectural films within the HCAF16 program, The Architect depicts Drew (Parker Posey) and Colin (Eric McCormack), who set out to build their dream house. Drew likes historic homes, while Colin leans more toward new construction. When they finally settle on a property, a storm quickly destroys it. In order to rebuild, they enlist the help of a modernist architect (James Frain) with an unwavering vision of his own dream home. A comic tale of love, obsession and deceit, Jonathan Parker’s film is a droll journey into the perils of homebuilding. Guest director Jonathan Parker will be in attendance at HCAF16.



ellabrennan_iwerks_bytiffanymcenteephotographyCulinary Arts: Academy Award and Emmy-nominated director Leslie Iwerks’ fascinating documentary Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table details Ella Brennan’s enormous impact, reflecting back to when she was a teenager in 1940’s New Orleans. The film represents the intimate and triumphant story of a groundbreaking American woman, credited by many for pushing Creole dining into the American mainstream and creating a lasting impact on how Americans eat and drink. Guest director Leslie Iwerks will be in attendance at HCAF16.



bird-in-the-room-pr1Poetry: Co-sponsored with EPOS: The International Art Film Festival, the Israeli Consulate, and the Jewish Book and Arts Fair with an introduced by Guy Cohen, Ari Davidovich’s lyrical homage Bird in the Room details Tirza Atar’s prodigious career, the complicated relationship she had with her famous father, and her untimely demise. In her brief but prolific life, Tirza Atar, the daughter of celebrated poet Nathan Alterman, composed hundreds of poems and song lyrics, wrote popular children’s books and translated plays for the theater. A beloved and enigmatic part of Modern Hebrew culture, Atar captured the hearts of audiences worldwide.



olekFiber Arts: Playing with space and environment, Yarn follows circus performers, wool graffiti artists and interactive designers as they re-invent our relationship with this colorful threaded tradition. The film features Brooklyn-based Polish crochet artist Olek; Icelandic wool graffiti artist Tinna Thorudottir Thorvaldar; Japanese Canada-based artist Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam of Net Play Works who stitches giant textile playgrounds in public spaces around the world; and Tilde Björfors, the founder of the contemporary Swedish circus company Cirkus Cikör.


These 10 films about the arts, among the more than 50 events at the 2016 Houston Cinema Arts Festival, will tie together Houston’s artistic community and combine to paint an elaborate tapestry of captivating portraits and stories about artistic creation.



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. For more information, please visit

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