Celebs from the film and music industry and local notables lined the red carpet at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) on Thursday night for the launch of the seventh annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival.
Sharing the spotlight were notables including Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Al Reinert, Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik and director Katie Cokinos, plus Christopher “Play” Martin of Kid ’n Play fame and cinematic up-and-comers — and Houston natives — Trey Edward Shults and Patrick Wang, who each have films showing at this year’s event.
The star-studded crowd was fitting for the Texas premiere of Janis: Little Girl Blue, an intimate and insightful portrait of rock legend Janis Joplin, who died in 1970 at the age of 27. The MFAH’s Brown Auditorium Theater could barely contain the sold-out, standing-room-only audience, or their excitement to see the film, which received kudos at the Toronto Film Festival.
The sentiment was shared by the night's filmgoers, including Houston–based rapper Bun B who, post screening, lamented, “I think I can speak for everyone here in attendance that it was an extremely moving film,” as he sat down to moderate a question-and-answer session with the film’s director, Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Amy Berg (Deliver Us from Evil, West of Memphis) and Dave Moriarty, a high school friend of Joplin's who appears in the movie.
Berg told the packed auditorium that the making of Janis: Little Girl Blue became personal as she connected with the singer and strived to protect Joplin from the negativity of her demise, instead focusing on the person and her talent. “I think that Janis and Amy Winehouse and all the other 27-year-old beauties who died tragically are remembered for how they died. I want Janis to be remembered for how she lived.”
After the premiere, more than 250 guests made their way into the grand entry of MFAH for a blowout after-party with Joplin-inspired tunes and light bites courtesy of Whole Foods.
Celebrating the evening were: Lynn Wyatt, Lonnie and Candice Schiller, Jason Cohen, Carla Valencia Martinez, Diane Lokey Farb, Houston Cinema Arts Society chair Franci Neely, Cinema Arts Festival artistic director Richard Herskowitz, The Suffers lead singer Kam Franklin, Project Row Houses founder Rick Lowe, The Tontons lead singer Asli Omar and Houston Cinema Arts Society executive director Trish Rigdon.
The Houston Cinema Arts Festival continues through November 19. For the full schedule, visit the HCAF website.