Red Carpet glamour two-stepped on down to the best little honky tonk in Texas as stars, directors, and Houston’s most ardent film and music lovers celebrated the opening of the eighth annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival at the Museum of Fine Arts. The rhinestones-wearing crowd sparkled in preparation for the special presentation of the HCAF opening film, Honky Tonk Heaven: Legend of the Broken Spoke.
Before the screening, the cinephile guests gathered in the MFAH’s Pre-Columbian Gallery to mingle with some of the filmmakers and the colorful documentary subjects including James and Annetta White, the Broken Spoke founders and owners. Before making a cinematic trip to Austin, guests took a detour to Louisiana for a sampling of Creole delights catered by Brennan’s of Houston and featuring Shrimp Chippewa (shrimp and grits), snapping turtle soup and “Galveston Off The Boat,” a crudo tuna plate. The New Orleans-meets-Houston treats served as a most delicious preview of another film on the HCAF roster, Ella Brennan: Commanding the Table.
After indulging in some Brennan’s speciality Bananas Foster and pecan pralines, everyone headed down to Brown Auditorium for the down home Texas screening. HCAF Board Chair Franci Neely and HCAF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz officially opened the Festival with Neely speaking eloquently on the value of art and the importance of viewing films as an audience community, while Herskowitz thanked the many people who worked together to put organize and program the festival.
Honky Tonk Heaven reinforced the idea of community as the film explored the history of the Austin iconic honky tonk and dance hall and the many country stars and ordinary, but individually extraordinary, patrons who have danced the warn floor over the decades.
Richard Herskowitz then led a post-screen talk with James White, the film's directors, Brenda Mitchell and Sam Wainright Douglas, and country artist Dale Watson, a frequent headliner at the Broken Spoke. Watson thrilled the crowd with a short performance of some of his Broken Spoke standards.
Some of the HCAF headlining artists and filmmakers joining in at the opening celebration were Judith Ivey, Cheryl Nichols, Cassidy Freeman, Akosua Adoma Owusu, Maarten Isaak de Heer, Jonathan Parker.
Seen getting their honky tonk on were Lynn Wyatt, Diane Lokey Farb, Trish Rigdon, Neal Hamil, Alecia Harris, Cynthia Neely, Dan Jacobs, Vicky Wight, Carlos and Patricia Fontanot, Holly Crawford, Alex Brennan Martin and wife Robin, Johnny So and Claire Sewell, Pat Breen, Sima Ladjevardian, Garrett and Krystal Thompson, Debbie McNulty, Michael Garfield, O’Neal Furr, Michael and Roseanne Heckman, Karen Farber and Janice Freeman.