Texas premiere of Janis: Little Girl Blue with director Amy Berg to open festival

Houston’s Trey Edward Shults to receive Levantine Emerging Artist Award for SXSW sensation Krisha 

Richard Linklater, Katie Cokinos, Patrick Wang among visiting Texas talents

Andrew and Luke Wilson, William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert with Apollo 13, TIME’s A Year in Space, inaugural CineSpace competition with NASA highlight CineSpace Day

Kid ‘n Play to accompany House Party 25th anniversary with rap battle performance

Upcoming releases Carol, Youth, Heart of a Dog to make Houston premieres

HOUSTON – The stars of Texas are aligning for the 2015 Houston Cinema Arts Festival (HCAF15).

The Nov. 12-19 festival – which annually celebrates artists in the visual, performing and literary arts – unveiled its full lineup today. Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Amy Berg (Deliver Us from Evil, West of Memphis) will open the festival with the Texas premiere of Janis: Little Girl Blue, her biopic of iconic Texas rocker Janis Joplin, featuring a post-film discussion with Houston rap luminary Bun B. Reflecting the dynamism of the Texas independent film scene, HCAF15 will bestow the first-ever Levantine Emerging Artist Award to Houston-born director Trey Edward Shults and also will host native Texan directors Richard Linklater, Katie Cokinos and Patrick Wang. Anchored by a new partnership with NASA, the festival will present CineSpace Day at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) on Nov. 13, with guest appearances by Andrew and Luke Wilson presenting their short film Satellite Beach, screenwriters William Broyles, Jr. and Al Reinert with a 20th anniversary screening of Apollo 13, and NASA astronaut Don Pettit with the inaugural CineSpace short film competition.

Hip hop duo Kid ‘n Play will present a 25th anniversary screening of House Party, headlining HCAF’s annual selection of live music and film programming. Other special guests include documentary film pioneer Gordon Quinn of Kartemquin Films and acclaimed director and cinematographer Arthur Jafa. Major upcoming releases such as Todd Haynes’ Carol, Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth and Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog also highlight the roster of more than 60 films at HCAF15, which will take place at venues throughout Houston including the MFAH, Sundance Cinemas, The Menil Collection, Asia Society Texas Center, Project Row Houses and Rice Media Center.

Now in its seventh year, HCAF is a collaborative effort with many of Houston’s leading arts and civic organizations, including Premier Sponsor Houston First Corporation, Signature Sponsor Anadarko Petroleum Corporation and Featured Sponsor Levantine Films.

“The Cinema Arts Festival brings together so many different types of artists and mediums—from film to music to dance—making it emblematic of a vibrant and diverse Houston,” said Dawn Ullrich, President and CEO of Houston First Corporation. “The cultural collaboration that happens at a festival like this is vital to developing and maintaining a strong arts scene, which in turn brings visitors to the city. That’s why Houston First is increasing its support for HCAF, to help the festival become a signature event and an even bigger draw for our community.”

Tickets for HCAF15 will go on sale on Wednesday, Oct. 21. For more information and the full festival lineup, including dates, times, venues and film synopses, visit hcaf15.org.

Texas Stories and Talents

Trey Edward Shults, who grew up in Houston, will present the hometown premiere of his debut film sensation Krisha – which swept the Audience and Grand Jury awards for Narrative Feature at the 2015 SXSW Film Festival in Austin – on Nov. 14 at the MFAH, with cast and crew in attendance. Shults wrote, directed and produced the film, shooting it at his parents’ home in nearby Montgomery over the course of nine days with many of his own family members in the cast. He follows Levantine Cinema Arts Award winners Isabella Rossellini (2010), Ethan Hawke (2011), Robert Redford (2012), Richard Linklater (2013) and James Ivory (2014), becoming the first to receive the Emerging Artist designation.

“Krisha and the enormous talent of its director, Trey Edward Shults, made a strong impression on Levantine Films president Donna Gigliotti and me,” HCAF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz said. “We are thrilled to see such creative cinematic energy emanating from Houston and to give this special Levantine award to an exceptional emerging artist.” 

Amy Berg will open the festival on Thursday, Nov. 12, at the MFAH with the red-carpet Texas premiere of Janis: Little Girl Blue. It examines Joplin’s story for the first time on film, presenting an intimate and insightful portrait of the singer who thrilled millions and blazed new creative trails before her death at age 27 in 1971. Berg’s post-film discussion at the MFAH will be moderated by Houston hip hop icon Bun B, who, like Joplin, hails from Port Arthur, Texas. Another Texas music legend, Doug Sahm of the Sir Douglas Quintet and the Texas Tornados, will be profiled in Sir Doug and the Genuine Texas Cosmic Groove, accompanied by director Joe Nick Patoski, the noted Texas music writer who has authored and co-authored biographies on Willie Nelson, Selena and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Five-time Oscar nominee Richard Linklater (Boyhood, Before Midnight, Before Sunset), a Houston native, will present I Dream Too Much, which he produced, with director Katie Cokinos, an East Texas native and former head of the Austin Film Society, on Nov. 15. Houston native Patrick Wang, a Burmese-American film director, writer, economist and actor who lives in New York, will return home to present two films on Nov. 14-15: In the Family, his directorial debut that was selected for more than 25 “Best of 2011” lists; and The Grief of Others, based on the Leah Hager Cohen novel, which premiered at SXSW 2015. HCAF15 also will host Profiles of Houston Artists, a selection of short documentaries from 14 Pews Film Academy, and the Houston Film Commission’s Texas Filmmakers Showcase, with eight films by filmmakers from Austin, Fort Worth, Arlington and Houston.

Live Cinema and Music

Live music and film will intersect with Kid ‘n Play, who will conduct an audience Q&A following a Nov. 14 screening of New Line Cinema’s cult classic House Party, the 1990 film that made them hip hop’s first true movie stars. They also will perform the film’s famous “rap battle” scene at the Cinema Arts Celebration at Brasil in Montrose on Nov. 14. The Jones Family Singers, a gospel group that recently moved from Austin to Houston, will perform live at the MFAH following a screening of The Jones Family Will Make A Way, which premiered at SXSW 2015. Dengue Fever’s Chhom Nimol and Zac Holtzman, who accompanied Lost World at the first HCAF in 2009, will perform at the Asia Society Texas Center following Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten: Cambodia’s Lost Rock n’ Roll on Nov. 19. And acclaimed Americana duo Hogan & Moss will play a 30-minute set of original Carter Family music for viewers who arrive early to guest director Beth Harrington’s film The Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes and the Course of Country Music on Nov. 14 and 19 at Sundance.


Space is a central theme of this year’s festival. CineSpace Day at the MFAH on Nov. 13 will feature Texas natives Andrew and Luke Wilson with their short film Satellite Beach; TIME’s A Year in Space documentary series that follows astronaut Scott Kelly on the International Space Station, presented by co-director Marco Grob, producer Jonathan Woods and TIME Editor at Large Jeffrey Kluger; a 20th anniversary screening of Apollo 13 with Kluger (author of the book Apollo 13) and Oscar-nominated screenwriters and native Texans William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert; and the inaugural CineSpace short film competition with astronaut Don Pettit. The top 16 films out of 194 submitted for the contest will be shown, and the five winners – chosen by Richard Linklater and NASA – will be announced with $26,000 in cash prizes. Attendees also will select an Audience Prize winner.

Space-themed media art installations will include Marco Brambilla’s Apollo XVIII video installation on view at the MFAH from Nov. 12-15. HCAF will host a free “Cinema on the Verge” CineSpace Art Exhibition at the She Works Flexible Gallery in Montrose featuring five artists who explore space through their work: Laura Heit, Jeanne Liotta, Juila Oldham, Kelly Sears and David Janesko. Aurora Picture Show and HCAF will host Kidlat Tahimik, “the father of the new Filipino cinema,” a lifelong space enthusiast who is making his first voyage to Houston to present his films The Perfumed Nightmare (1977) and Who Invented the Yoyo? Who Invented the Moon Buggy? (1979).

Special Programs: ArCH at HCAF, Fringe Theater and Politics, Tribute to Kartemquin Films

ArCH at HCAF, a new component of the festival, merges the annual Architecture Center Houston (ArCH) film festival with HCAF. ArCH and HCAF will co-host five films downtown at Sundance and the nearby AIA Houston Architecture Center. ArCH at HCAF launches Nov. 13 with Telos: The Fantastic World of Eugene Tssui, accompanied by the renegade visionary architect who is the film’s magnetic subject. Also showing: Estate, A Reverie; Concrete Love; Welcome to This House; and Sagrada.

HCAF15 will feature two new films about international theater companies producing works that strike challenging political chords at home: Fringe Story (Israel) with director Tor Ben Mayor and Artistic DIrector Yinon Tzafrir, and Ash and Money (Estonia) with Artistic Directors Tiit Ojasoo and Ene-Liis Semper of Theatre NO99 in Estonia. The visiting directors will participate in a panel on the subject of Fringe Theater and Politics on Nov. 14.

Other special programs include a Tribute to Kartemquin Films, the Chicago-based documentary film collective behind classics such as Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters, with Kartemquin co-founder Gordon Quinn, documentary film scholar Patricia Aufderheide and director Dan Rybicky. Filmmaker and cinematographer Arthur Jafa (Daughters of the Dust, Crooklyn) will present Dreams Are Colder Than Death, his poetic 2014 film on what it means to be black in America, and a freewheeling Artist Talk and screening of short works at Project Row Houses.

Film Premieres By and About Artists

Carol and Youth headline HCAF15’s slate of major upcoming feature films by and about artists. Carol, based on a Patricia Highsmith novel, follows two women (two-time Oscar winner Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, who won Best Actress at this year’s Cannes Film Festival) from disparate backgrounds in an unexpected love affair in 1950s New York. Youth, a story of two longtime artist friends vacationing in the Swiss Alps from director Paolo Sorrentino (The Great Beauty), stars Oscar winners Michael Caine, Rachel Weisz and Jane Fonda along with Harvey Keitel. Other titles making their Houston premieres at HCAF15 include Laurie Anderson’s Heart of a Dog; Patricio Guzman’s The Pearl Button; Robert Edwards’ When I Live My Life Over Again starring Christopher Walken and Amber Heard; Kyle Ham’s Reparation; and A Woman Like Me with guest co-director Elizabeth Giamatti.


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, National Endowment for the Arts, The Brown Foundation, Inc. and Texas Commission on the Arts. The 7th Annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival will take place Nov. 12-19. For more information, visit hcaf15.org.