Spring in Houston means festival time, but only one festival lets you span the world from a very comfy seat, with optional pop corn tub. Yes, April brings the 49th annual WorldFest Houston back to town for the best new independent films from around the globe.
With 80 feature films and 124 shorts from 35 countries running from April 8-17, it’s all a bit daunting even for the most devoted cinephile. So whether you just want to find that one film you can’t miss or plan on spending whole days at this WorldFest, here is the CultureMap cheat sheet for navigating the movie maelstrom.
Find Your Level of Commitment
All the screenings take place at AMC Studio 30 at Dunvale, and WorldFest gives film fans the option of simply buying a ticket to one movie or, for major film buffs, purchasing a festival pass in order to see as many films as humanly possible in 10 days. There are several levels of passes to choose from, depending on how indie film intense you want to go. Upper level passes also give fest-goers some party down time with invites to some or all the festival special events including a opening night post-screening VIP reception, awards gala dinner, and even their annual HYC/Consular Regatta.
Get With the Program
Yes, it’s a little bit like going through a college course catalog, but downloading the WorldFest Program Guide might be the best way to find those films you’re most interested to see. Labeled by genre and country, the program guide gives a good overview of all the films and let’s you zero in on your next obsession.
Looking for a Tanzanian drama about wedding planning? The guide will get you to Daddy’s Wedding on time. In the mood for a documentary about 94-year-old aviator Robert Hoover that stars Harrison Ford? Flying the Feathered Edge: The Bob Hoover Project on April 10 is the film for you. From a program of NASA short films on April 9 to the Autism Drama, Po, with the director and the film’s young star attending the festival on April 16, they’re all in one place, but you’ll need the guide to keep you organized.
If you’re a type-A planner, use the schedule to strategize your festival days. If you would like to keep some spontaneity in your festival going, pick a Saturday or Sunday and settle in for hours of film.
World Premieres with Houston Roots
There’s many world and national premiere films to see throughout the two weeks, but here are two Houston-centric highlights you might not want to miss.
Last Man Club
Directed by Houston native Bo Brinkman, this film about a World War II vet ditching the retirement home for a road trip in search of the last remaining members of his B-17 bomber crew opens the festival on April 8. Look for Ellington Field to be a scenic star of the film and look for movie and television Barry Corbin at the screening to receive the 2016 WorldFest REMI Lifetime Achievement Award.
Closing out WorldFest on April 17, this Christian drama about a man who finds faith after hitting rock bottom comes from a Houstonian father/daughter team. Lakisha R. Lemons directs and her father Charles Irving is the executive producer.
Like two mini-fest within WorldFest, look for the 11th Annual Panorama Italia and the 2nd Annual Panorama China to bring both dazzling new films from Italy along with several directors and producers and world premieres from China including the Panorama China opening film, The Compact Density of Stone.
A View Behind the Scenes
Those wanting experienced advice on creating their own indie film or just fascinated by the art and industry of filmmaking might want to take one or several of the master seminars offered the last days of WorldFest, April 16-18. Experts on writing, directing and even casting will offer insights into the creation process. Need tips on using drones for aerial cinematography or how to obtain NASA footage for your next production? WorldFest has a class for that.