Of the more than 3,000 film festivals held each year around the world, Cinema Arts Festival Houston is the only one specifically programmed to celebrate films by and about visual, literary and performance artists. With support from city leaders, enthusiastic patrons and a highly developed network of arts organizations, the festival is a civic project conceived to highlight one the most vibrant and diverse arts communities on earth.
“This festival has a curatorial focus on films and new media by and about creative artists, because it is designed to celebrate the vibrant arts scene in Houston,” says artistic director Richard Herskowitz. “I check out films at Sundance, Toronto, Silverdocs, and the Festival of Films on Art in Montreal, among others, and try to bring back the best of the best to Houston. Also, when I find films that local arts organizations like DiverseWorks, the Menil, Aurora Picture Show, and others might want to co-sponsor, or when they approach me with collaborative ideas, those shows take priority.”
The 2010 Cinema Arts Festival has assembled a first rate program of the very best films from around the world about art and artists. Featured films include Sundance-favorite Memories of Overdevelopment (2010) introduced by Cuban director Miguel Coyula, Sundance Audience Award-winner Waste Land, International Festival of Films on Art Jury Award-winner The New Rijksmuseum (2008), and Silverdocs Sterling Feature Award-winner Woman with Five Elephants (2009) among many, many others. In a special, free-to-the-public screening, Mark Landsman’s multi-award winning Thunder Soul (2010) – a documentary about Houston’s Kashmere High School Stage Band - will be presented at Discovery Green and accompanied by a live performance by the Kashmere Reunion Band.
Joining for the festival’s sophomore outing are silver screen icons Isabella Rossellini, Shirley MacLaine, and John Turturro. Ms. Rossellini – whose father Roberto Rossellini played a significant role in establishing the Rice Media Center 40 years ago – will present her own short works produced for the Sundance Channel, Green Porno and Seduce Me. She will also receive Houston-based Levantine Entertainment’s Levantine Cinema Arts Award at the Rice Media Center during a special screening of Viaggio in Italia, the 1954 film directed by her father and starring her mother, Ingrid Bergman.
Ms. MacLaine will be on hand to accept the Texas Film Award at a screening of the classic Texas film, Terms of Endearment. Actor and director Turturro will kick things off on opening night with a screening of Passione, his new “musical adventure” about Neapolitan music and dance. Alex Gibney, who directed the Academy Award-winning Taxi to the Dark Side, will present My Trip To Al Qaeda (2010) and his current project, Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010)
The festival will also celebrate the growing tradition of Texas films with selections including lens-based artist Robert Ziebell’s 1990 experimental This State I’m In – a Wizard of Oz-inspired tale featuring a cast of Houston art world notables – and The Texas Filmmakers Showcase, a special screening event consisting of the best of Texas short films and videos under 40 minutes in length. French filmmaker Frederic Laffont and Houston’s own world-class rodeo superstar Clint Cannon will be on hand to present two of Laffont’s works about Cannon and his family, Ballad for a Cowboy (2006) and the in-the-works Cowboy Solitude.
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 organized and hosted the 2009 Cinema Arts Festival Houston, a groundbreaking and innovative film and multimedia 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 is funded in part by grants from the Crane Foundation, The Brown Foundation, Inc., Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau, City of Houston Convention and Entertainment Facilities Department, Houston Arts Alliance, Houston Film Commission and Texas Film Commission. The second annual Cinema Arts Festival Houston will be held November 10-14, 2010. For more information and a complete schedule of events, please visit HCAS at www.cinemartsociety.org.
Photo: Isabella Rossellini in ‘Seduce Me.’