The Houston Cinema Arts Festival has nabbed a big one.
Acclaimed actor/director Robert Redford will be honored at this year's festival with the Levantine Cinema Arts Award for his creative work as a director of such movies as Ordinary People, Quiz Show and The Horse Whisperer and as founder of the Sundance Institute, the Utah-based non-profit organization that develops and nurtures independent film, festival organizers announced early Sunday morning.
Redford, 76, will pick up the award on Nov. 9 and take part in a 90-minute discussion with Channel 8 host Ernie Manouse titled "A Conversation with Robert Redford." The event will take place at Sundance Cinemas, the downtown movie complex that Redford's company owns and which opened last year.
There's no doubt the Sundance Cinemas connection was pivotal in luring Redford to Houston for this appearance.
“The Sundance Instituteʼs programs reflect Robert Redfordʼs passionate commitment to supporting not just independent filmmakers but also innovative artists in theater, music, and the visual arts," Houston Cinema Arts Festival artistic director Richard Herskowitz said in a statement.
Redford, of course, is known for his acting roles in Oscar-winning classics Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Sting, The Way We Were and Out of Africa. But his real passion is directing and the Sundance Institute, which he founded in 1981 and whose Sundance Film Festival, held every January, has become the launch pad for independent films.
Redford's ninth film as a director, The Company You Keep, premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September. He also stars in the movie, which is a thriller about veterans of the Weather Underground. Time magazine praised it as "one of his knottiest and most involving."
There's no doubt the Sundance Cinemas connection was pivotal in luring Redford to Houston for this appearance. When the complex open last November, Redford sent a video greeting in which he said he hoped to visit the theaters. The complex in Bayou Place will host more than 25 films during the Cinema Arts Festival Nov. 7-11.
Previous recipients of the Levantine Cinema Arts Award have included Shirley MacLaine, Isabella Rossellini and Ethan Hawke. The award, which honors "a leading actor, director, or other creative artist who has stretched the boundaries of cinematic expression throughout an illustrious film career," is sponsored by Levantine Films, an independent motion picture development, financing and production company founded by Houston businessman Jamal Daniel.
Tickets for Redford's appearance will be available on the HCAF website on Oct. 24.