Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) has announced 10 films that will have their regional premieres at the 6th Annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival from Nov. 12-16. Among them are Wild, an early Oscars favorite starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern; Dior and I, the festival’s closing night film at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston that will feature a discussion with director Frédéric Tcheng moderated by Lynn Wyatt; and two films presented by Brazilian guest director Marcelo Gomes: Man of the Crowd and Once Upon a Time Veronica.
Other early confirmations for HCAF 2014 include six films depicting and representing a wide range of art forms: BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs. Gravity (dance) with special guest choreographer Elizabeth Streb and director Catherine Gund, Exhibition (architecture), THROUGH A LENS DARKLY: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People (photography), Muse of Fire (theater), Burroughs: The Movie (literature) and A Thousand Suns (cinema). The rest of the programming for HCAF 2014 will be announced Oct. 21 at the Sam Houston Hotel during the Festival Launch Party for HCAS members and sponsors.
”We strive to address a broad range of art forms that matter to Houston’s diverse arts audiences,” HCAF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz said. “This sampling gives just a taste of the 50-plus programs that we and our partner organizations will be presenting this year.”
In Wild, director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club), Academy Award® winner Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line) and Academy Award nominated screenwriter Nick Hornby (An Education) bring bestselling author Cheryl Strayed’s extraordinary adventure to the screen. After years of reckless behavior, a heroin addiction and the destruction of her marriage, Strayed makes a rash decision. Haunted by memories of her mother Bobbi (Academy Award nominee Laura Dern) and with absolutely no experience, she sets out to hike more than 1,000 miles on the Pacific Crest Trail all on her own.
Dior and I, with director Frédéric Tcheng, brings the viewer inside the storied world of the Christian Dior fashion house with a privileged, behind-the-scenes look at the creation of Raf Simons’ first haute couture collection as its new artistic director—a true labor of love created by a dedicated group of collaborators. Melding the everyday, pressure-filled components of fashion with mysterious echoes from the iconic brand’s past, the film is also a colorful homage to the seamstresses who serve Simons’ vision.
Guest director Marcelo Gomes, lauded by Neil Young of The Hollywood Reporter as one of the “front rank of South American filmmakers,” will present his films Man of the Crowd and Once Upon a Time Veronica. In Man, Gomes and co-director Cao Guimaraes use Edgar Allan Poe’s 1840 short story of the same name as a springboard for an examination of different forms of loneliness and friendship in the Brazilian urban universe. The film explores the lives of two people living in a state of complete solitude, each in a different way: Juvenal, metro driver in the city of Belo Horizonte, and Margo, a station controller.
In Veronica, Gomes creates a fairy tale in reverse with a stylishly crafted sketch of a young woman’s life. Veronica (Hermila Guedes), fresh out of medical school, is full of doubts about her ability to cope with commitment or her career choices, and she must face the pain of the real world and the possibility of feeling empty. The film won five major awards at Brazil’s national film festival in Brasilia and a special mention in the Horizontes Latinos section at the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
BORN TO FLY traces the evolution of Elizabeth Streb’s movement philosophy as she pushes herself and her performers from the ground to the sky. Streb and the STREB Extreme Action Company form a motley troupe of flyers and crashers. Propelled by Streb’s edict that “anything too safe is not action,” these daredevils challenge the assumptions of art, aging, injury, gender and human possibility. Revealing the passions behind the dancers’ bruises and broken noses, BORN TO FLY offers a breathtaking tale about the necessity of art.
Exhibition is the newest work of British artistic filmmaking sensation Joanna Hogg, subject of a recent Lincoln Center retrospective. It stars Turner Prize-nominated artist Liam Gillick and Viv Albertine of the female punk band The Slits as two married artists living in a West London home designed by the late architect James Melvin, to whom the film is dedicated.
THROUGH A LENS DARKLY will screen at the historic El Dorado Ballroom on Thursday, Nov. 13, at 6:15 p.m. The film is the first documentary to explore the role of photography in shaping the identity, aspirations and social emergence of African-Americans from slavery to the present. It brings to light previously hidden and largely unknown images by professional and vernacular African-American photographers, highlighting Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Anthony Barboza, Hank Willis Thomas, Coco Fusco and Clarissa Sligh; in addition to LGBT artists such as Lyle Ashton Harris, Glenn Ligon, Lola Flash and Carla Williams.
Muse of Fire showcases two British actors, Dan Poole and Giles Terera, as they travel the world to find out everything they can about tackling Shakespeare. An official selection at the Seattle International Film Festival and Raindance Film Festival, this warmhearted and shenanigan-packed adventure includes conversations with the likes of Dame Judi Dench, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Baz Luhrmann and Ralph Fiennes about how they make Shakespeare’s words come alive.
Burroughs: The Movie is director Howard Brookner’s 1983 documentary about writer William S. Burroughs, re-released by Janus Films on the 100th anniversary of Burroughs’ birth. Originally shot in late ‘70s Lower East Side Manhattan with sound by Jim Jarmusch, Burroughs is a vivid, gritty, surprising account of Burroughs as told by Burroughs. Hidden in a bunker for 20 years, the film now unearthed and restored will screen at the New York Film Festival with a weeklong run in New York starting on Nov. 14 to coincide with its screening at HCAF 2014.
A Thousand Suns, shot in Dakar, Senegal, is director Mati Diop’s exploration of Magaye Niang’s life 40 years after he starred in Touki Bouki, the classic African film directed by Diop’s uncle Djibril Diop Mambety in 1973. Forty years ago, Niang was supposed to board an ocean liner traveling to France with his lover, Marème Niang. At the last minute, he decided to stay in Dakar. Now an old man, he herds cattle for a living and relives his glory days as an actor. He is still haunted, however, by his decision to stay behind.
ABOUT HOUSTON CINEMA ARTS SOCIETY (HCAS)
Houston Cinema Arts Society is a non-profit organization created in 2008. With the support of former Houston Mayor Bill White and the leadership of Franci Crane, HCAS organizes and hosts the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, a groundbreaking and innovative arts festival featuring films and new media by and about artists in the visual, performing and literary arts. The festival celebrates the vitality and diversity of the arts in Houston and enriches the city’s film and arts community. HCAS sponsors include the Crane Foundation, a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Houston First Corporation, Texas Monthly, Levantine Films, Champion Energy Services, Amegy Bank of Texas, The Brown Foundation, Inc. and others. The project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. The sixth annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival will be held Nov. 12-16, 2014. For more information, please visit www.hcaf14.org.