Talking Up H-Town
Houston goes to Sundance to film party with purpose
Houston is going to Sundance, well sort of. A few of our current and former citizens packed up their woolies for Park City, Utah, to show their cinematic wares Thursday through Jan. 30 at the flashiest film festival (and its sister, Slamdance) in the nation.
Houston Film Commission (HFC) Deputy Director Alfred Cervantes attends numerous festivals throughout the year yet, it's Sundance that tops his list.
"It's the one I always want to attend," Cervantes says. "I go to meet with filmmakers and talk up shooting in Houston."
Sometimes HFC hosts a brunch or party, but not this time. Cervantes will be doing more random schmoozing. It's partying with a purpose.
"I attend screenings and just try to be visible," he says. "It's pretty easy to connect with filmmakers. You just have to ask them about their film and they will talk. Really, Sundance kicks off festival season. It's the festival to shoot for."
Cervantes will be heading to the screening of Jonathan Caouette'sAll Flowers in Time, starring Chloë Sevigny in the shorts category. All Flowers in Time dwells in a fantastical world where a Dutch television signal has a powerful impact on its youngest viewers, making them believe they can transform into other people or monsters.
Caouette's breakout film, Tarnation, which he wrote, starred in and pieced together using his iMac computer, placed him on the map. Born and raised in Houston, Caouette has been making films since he was 8. Tarnation premiered at Sundance and went on to win numerous honors.
"I consider all my films, both fiction and documentary, to be in a sense true stories of dreams. My goal is to make films that are also a happening , an encounter, a conversation and a hopefully a beacon of emotional uplift, " Caouette writes in his artist statement.
All Flowers in Time Trailer
Lucas Mireles debuts at Sundance's fringe fest, Slamdance, with his short Hijo de mi Madre. "It's a sad tale about forgiveness and the circle of violence," Mireles says from his Los Angeles base, where he is a film student at UCLA.
"It's a big deal because it's curated by filmmakers," Mireles, who graduated from the University of Houston, says. "I am very honored. Since both festivals happen at the same time, Slamdance is really growing in prestige."
Mireles will be catching as many films as possible at Sundance and Slamdance. Mireles filmed in just four days in the outskirts of Los Angeles in Palmdale with Houston actor Jorge Diaz in the lead. Diaz and Mireles met while studying experimental digital cinematography at UH.
"Your work reminds me of the Coen Brothers," I tell Mireles.
"I appreciate that, but if the Coen Brothers are in the theater, I'm in the parking lot," he responds.
Glassell School of Art Core Fellow Kelly Sears is bringing Jupiter Elicius to Sundance in the New Frontiers short category, her third visit to Sundance. Sears takes the scavenger approach to filmmaking, constructing her whimsical collage animations from collected and discarded periodicals, books, and encyclopedias. Using found images from disparate sources, Sears reshapes her subjects, creating a time capsule of sorts.
Like any artist on the rise, Sears hopes to do some serious networking.
"Sundance is like the ultimate film camp, you are watching and talking about movies from morning to night," she says. "They have lots of spaces and events for filmmakers to meet up so you end up getting to meet a lot of other filmmakers. A lot of programmers from other festivals come to Sundance, and between that and other filmmakers you have met at other festivals, it really becomes a snowy reunion.
"Specifically, they have a late-night lounge for meeting up for drinks on Main Street and lots of events throughout the days. A lot of different film organizations have parties as well, so you get to have drinks and catch up with people at these events. Did I say film camp? More like film and cocktail camp."