Feature: 2016 Houston Cinema Arts Festival Crosses Cinema With Dance, Literature, Fine Art, and More

By: Nov. 14, 2016
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"It looks like a forest, but it's really a garden with a path," says Richard Herskowitz of the 2016 Houston Cinema Arts Festival. "You can weave through it."


As artistic director for the festival, Herskowitz helped layer and landscape the program, which spotlights films from women filmmakers and cinema that delves into everything from literature, painting, and art installation, to 360 degree cinema.

"[Houston Cinema Arts Festival], it's a place for film that crosses over various art forms," says Herskowitz. Which, he adds, is why the 2016 festival pairs films with live performances. Take for instance, the festival screening of HAPPY LUCKY GOLDEN TOFU PANDA DRAGON GOOD TIME FUN FUN SHOW on Wednesday, November 16, where the hip-hop, rock, classical music blending comedy duo Slanty Eyed Mama will give a live performance. Director and Emmy Award-winning actress Carrie Preston, known for her appearances on television shows like THE GOOD WIFE and TRUE BLOOD, also attends the Asia Society screening.

Similarly, dance and visual artist Celia Rowlson-Hall will take the stage at Aurora Picture Show on Monday, November 14, illustrating the connection between cinematic movement and dance movement with a selection of her short dance films and art, fashion, and music videos, including THE AUDITION and PROM NIGHT.

For Herskowitz, the goal is to promote provocative, innovative, interesting cinema. "Film festivals exist to celebrate film but they also exist to push the culture forward," says Herskowitz. "Part of the mission of film festivals is to challenge and push the mainstream to be more inclusive," says the artistic director.

BIRD IN THE ROOM, Israeli filmmaker Ari Davidovich's look at the remarkable life of Tel Aviv poetess Tirza Atar, screens Wednesday at Sundance Cinemas. See the trailer here: vimeo.com/148985296.

Filmmaker Eryk Rocha, awarded the L'Œil d'or at this year's Cannes Film Festival for his documentary CINEMA NOVO, presents JARD this Monday, November 14. This time, the Cinema Novo classic comes courtesy of his father, the legendary Brazilian filmmaker Glauber Rocha. JARD screens at Rice Cinema.

The lyrical BIRD IN THE ROOM takes a look at prolific writer Tirza Atar. The Tel Aviv poet's moth-like quality and relation to her father, Nathan Alterman -- another celebrated poet -- have long made her a subject of interest. BIRD IN THE ROOM screens at Sundance on Wednesday, November 16. Guy Cohen, theater director, professor, producer, and director of cultural affairs at the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest United States moderates a post-film discussion.

As part of its "The 'False Crime' Film and Investigative Journalism" selection, HCAF screens UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT: THE HANNAH OVERTON STORY on November 15 at Sundance Cinemas. Hannah Overton spent nearly eight years in prison for the murder of four-year-old Andrew Burd before being exonerated. UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT chronicles the efforts of Overton and her supporters -- her husband, lawyers, journalists like "Texas Monthly" writer Pam Colloff -- to navigate through the justice system and gain her freedom.

Above: The UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT Trailer from P+R Productions. Via Vimeo. UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT screens at 7 p.m. on November 15 at Sundance Cinemas.

On Thursday, November 17, a free outdoor screening of CONTEMPORARY COLOR closes the 2016 festival. CONTEMPORARY COLOR captures a 2015 summer concert at the Barclays Center coordinated by Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne. For the concert, Byrne paired the flag and gun waving marching band wing (wo)men -- Color Guard members -- with hip-hop and pop stars like Nelly Furtado and Ad-Rock in tribute to color guard groups everywhere.

With all this interbreeding, HCAF is basically the festival equivalent of the Labradoodle. Who's a good film festival?


The 2016 Houston Cinema Arts Festival continues through Thursday, November 17, closing with a free outdoor screening of CONTEMPORARY COLOR. For more information, please visit hcaf16.org. $10 - $14. Discount student and senior rates available with proper ID.

Photo gallery images courtesy of Houston Cinema Arts Festival


Music comedy duo Slanty Eyed Mama, above, give a live performance to complement a screening of HAPPY LUCKY GOLDEN TOFU PANDA DRAGON GOOD TIME FUN FUN SHOW at the Asia Society.


Celia Rowlson-Hall, above, will take the stage at Aurora Picture Show on Monday, November 14, illustrating the connection between cinematic movement and dance movement with a selection of her short dance films and art, fashion, and music videos, including THE AUDITION and PROM NIGHT.


A lyrical look at prolific Tel Aviv poet Tirza Atar, BIRD IN THE ROOM, screens at Sundance on Wednesday, November 16.


A lyrical look at prolific Tel Aviv poet Tirza Atar, BIRD IN THE ROOM, screens at Sundance on Wednesday, November 16.


On Thursday, November 17, a free outdoor screening of CONTEMPORARY COLOR closes the 2016 festival.


On Thursday, November 17, a free outdoor screening of CONTEMPORARY COLOR closes the 2016 festival.


On Thursday, November 17, a free outdoor screening of CONTEMPORARY COLOR closes the 2016 festival.



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