It was indeed a swanky evening as people attended the launch party for this year's Houston Cinema Arts Festival, recently held at Chapman & Kirby.
Attendees gorged on meatballs, flatbread pizza, and chocolate cake bites before Jessica Green, the festival's new artistic director, presented what the program of this year's fest, which will run Thursday, November 14, through Monday, November 18, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Rice Cinema; The Deluxe Theater; and other locations.
Green introduced two thematic programs: "The Yeehaw Agenda" and "Moon Landing 50." Agenda will be a celebration of rodeo riders, cowboys, and westerns, offering up such selections as Yellow Rose, about an undocumented Filipino girl who longs to be a country singer; Bacurau, a western/horror mashup from Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho (Aquarius); and Black Rodeo, a 1972 documentary about an all-African-American rodeo in Harlem. (Director Jeff Kanew will be in attendance for that one.)
"Moon" will obviously explore the legacy of the moon landing via narrative and storytelling. Among the selections: Space Dogs, a doc on the first living being sent into space; a 30th-anniversary of the space-travel doc For All Mankind (directed by the late Houston Al Reinert); and a bevy of international films that makes up this year's CineSpace 2019 competition.
During the presentation, Green said this year's fest is mostly about what Houston has brought to the world. "A lot of this programming and my ideas are in tribute to Houston, and are really inspired by Houston and inspired by Houston's influence on the planet and Houston's reach," she said. "And the ideas that come out of Houston really inform a lot of other ideas."
What to watch
Several films that have been killing it on the film-festival circuit will also be screening at the fest. The opening-night film will be Waves, from former Houstonian Trey Edward Shults (It Comes at Night), who will be in attendance. Afterwards, he'll have a conversation with rapper and HCAS board member Bun B.
Other films include A Hidden Life, the latest from Terrence Malick; Varda by Agnes, the last film from the late, great filmmaker Agnes Varda; Marriage Story, the new film from Noah Baumbach, starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver; and Portrait of a Lady on Fire, a period-piece from Celine Sciamma which will also be the fest's closing-night film.
What to attend
There will also be many special events popping off. Euzhan Palcy, the first black, female director of a film produced by a major Hollywood studio (A Dry White Season, BTW) will be in attendance for a centerpiece screening of her 1983 film Sugar Cane Alley. On the same night, a screening/food pairing will go down as A Taste of Sky screens at Cafe Brasil, where food and cocktails will also be served. On the last day, African-American filmmakers from Houston, Dallas and Austin will be in attendance at the Black Media Story Summit.
For a schedule of programs, individual ticket information, and all-access passes, visit the official Houston Cinema Arts Festival site.