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Cinema Arts Festival draws stars with Texas connections

Andrew Dansb, Houston Chronicle
Updated 1:46 pm, Monday, October 21, 2013
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  • Filmmaker Richard Linklater will receive the Levantine Cinema Arts Award at...
  • Bruce Dern and Will Forte from the Alexander Payne film Nebraska
  • Playwright Tracy Letts will appear at a screening of

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Awards

The Houston Film Critics Society announced the recipients for its Lifetime Achievement Award and Humanitarian of the Year. Joel and Ethan Coen, whose "Blood Simple," "No Country for Old Men" and "True Grit" were shot in Texas, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award at the HFCS's annual awards event later this year. The Humanitarian of the Year distinction will go to Edward James Olmos.

Richard Linklater, Will Forte, Thomas Haden Church and Tracy Letts will be among the guests coming to Houston for the fifth annual Cinema Arts Festival, which runs Nov. 6-10 at theaters near downtown and the Museum District.

Linklater returns home to receive the festival's Levantine Cinema Arts Award. His film "Dazed & Confused," which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, also will screen.

Forte will appear in conjunction with "Nebraska," the latest film from director Alexander Payne ("The Descendants"). "Nebraska" producer Ron Yerxa also will be on hand for the festival.

Letts will take a break from shooting TV's "Homeland" to attend the a screening of "August: Osage County," which features a screenplay he wrote adapted from his play.

Both "Nebraska" and "August: Osage County" will have their Houston premieres at the Cinema Arts Festival before opening in theaters later this year.

Haden Church will appear with director Megan Griffiths and writer/producer Emily Wachtel to show a sneak preview of a feature film they'll release in 2014. IMDB.com says the film has a working title of "Lucky Them."

"We're giving people the kind of experience they cannot get on the Internet or TV," festival director Richard Herskowitz said.

He's exploited the festival's strengths by bringing in more producers, directors, actors and screenwriters - the key figures "who get films made" and also playing up live performances and Texas connections.

The Cinema Arts Festival will continue its focus on films about visual and performing artists. Of particular interest in this region will be "All the Labor," a film about the beloved Austin jug band the Gourds. The Hard Pans - a band featuring two of the Gourds - will perform a show after the film screens on Nov. 8. Charlie Ahearn's "Jamel Shabazz: Street Photographer" documents the work of Shabazz, who has for three decades taken photographs of New York street life. Two legendary experimental filmmakers - Jonas Mekas and Barbara Hammer - will be on hand to present their work.

"Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction" tells the story of the beloved character actor. It will be followed by a screening of "Paris, Texas," which starred Stanton and was shot partly in Houston.

A screening of the 1918 film "The Yellow Ticket" will feature live music presented by Klezmatics' violinist Alicia Svigals and pianist Marilyn Lerner. Jeremy Rourke, a singer-songwriter and animator from San Francisco, will perform songs to accompany his visual work.

One of the more logistically challenging films will be Meredith Danluck's "North of South, West of East," which will put 25 audience members on swivel chairs at the center of four screens operating independently.

As in previous years the Cinema Arts Festival will spotlight films with local ties. A documentary about the Houston Ballet will screen Nov. 10. And "An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story" will close out the festival. Al Reinert's film tells the story of Morton, who spent more than two decades in Texas prisons for the murder of his wife before the Innocence Project helped exonerate him and identify the killer. Reinert will return to Houston, where he worked on his 1990 documentary "For All Mankind," which documented the Apollo space mission.

Venues include Sundance Cinemas, 510 Texas; Asia Society Texas Center, 1370 Southmore; Aurora Picture Show, 2442 Bartlett; and the Cinema on the Verge Gallery at festival headquarters, in the Houston Pavilions.

In additional to individual showings, passes to the festival are available, including an $80 one-day screening pass, a $150 weekend screening pass and a $600 all-access pass. More information about times, theaters and tickets can be found at http://cinemartsociety.org/

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