The phrase “Houston Strong” emerged out of the devastation that Hurricane Harvey wreaked upon the city and its surrounding areas about two and a half months ago. As a core theme of the 9th annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, “Houston Strong” is also a reminder, the resiliency of this city isn’t going anywhere. 

Running November 9-13, the festival doubles down on its mission to support the local arts community and the talents of artists, filmmakers and industry professionals through several special events.

Among them – the Texas Filmmaker’s Showcase November 11 at the Rice Media Center at 5:30 p.m. This screening presents a group of the best Texas short films and videos. And the Bayou City will be well-represented. Three filmmakers are from the Houston area. 

H-Town is also heavily recognized in documentaries about two Houston-based artists, Wayne Gilbert and Jesse Lot. The works were produced by filmmaker Wayne Slaten and director and editor Cressandra Thibodeaux of the non-profit theater 14 Pews. Slaten and Thibodeaux will be in attendance with the artists at the screening November 12 at 4 p.m. at The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

If you’re looking for a galactic experience that truly embodies the Space City, check out the 3rd annual CineSpace Screening and Awards presentation on November 10 at 8:30 p.m. in the Rice Media Center. The competition is a collaboration between NASA and the Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS), which allows filmmakers from around the world to use NASA imagery in their works and show how the agency has inspired them.

Spread over the course of five days, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival will offer screenings of more than 30 films, including international options from Brazil, Germany, Venezuela, Turkey and France that are as diverse and reflective as the communities who make up the very fabric of Houston. Here’s what else to watch for.

Opening Night 

Two powerhouse films will pack a punch -- “Love, Cecil” and “Bodied.” The former presents an inside look at the career of visionary photographer, costume designer and two-time Academy Award Winner Cecil Beaton. Director Lisa Immordino Vreeland also wrote a book of the same title to accompany the film and will be on hand to sign copies of the work following the screening. 

“Bodied” comes to Houston from director and Houston native Joseph Kahn. If you ever watched MTV’s “Making the Video,” you might recognize Kahn’s name. He’s the creative mind behind videos from artists such as Britney Spears, Aaliyah, Enrique Iglesias, and most recently, Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.” But this time, he’s stepping into the rap battle world with “Bodied” -  a film that’s expected to brilliantly blend discourse with some fierce action scenes. 

*Bonus: Houston hip-hop icon Bun B will host a Q&A with Kahn after the event.

Singin’ In the Rain

Speaking of Bun B, you can catch him channeling his inner Gene Kelly during “Singin’ in the Rain: A Houston and Cinema Arts Celebration” at White Oak Music Hall November 11. Along with Bun B, this rendition of the classic 1950s musical will feature blues musician Carolyn Wonderland, jazz vocalist and songwriter Kat Edmonson, and singer-songwriter and guitarist Robert Ellis. The show is designed to celebrate Houston’s perseverance and unbreakable spirit. On that note, White Oak Music Hall plans to donate 10% of box office proceeds to its Hurricane Harvey relief fund. Tickets are $20 and they’re standing room only -- so wear your most comfortable – but stylish shoes. This is celebrating song and dance after all! 

Know Before You Go

  • Want to scope out what’s showing each night? You can view a trailer and/or a synopsis for each film on the Houston Cinema Arts Festival website.  
  • Festival screenings are split between several venues including The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Rice Media Center, DiverseWorks, Brasil Cafe and iPic Houston. You can also find help getting to the venue and plan parking by downloading the HCAF app
  • You don’t have to break the bank to be involved. Some events are free, and ticketed entry is as low as $10, depending on when you go. At the time of this writing, film passes are available for $99 and guarantee admission to all the festival’s films and events.
  • Whether you want to get an early start, or you prefer late nights, there’s a screening time for everyone. Films show as early as 11 a.m. and as late as 9 p.m. – the perfect time to grab some dinner after the show!

And A Little Extra

Young film buffs don’t need to stay up late (or skip class!) to get in on an enriching experience. The festival offers a free field trip program for schools to attend select screenings. Find out about that here

For more information on this year’s event, visit houstoncinemaartsfestival.org.