There are a myriad of reasons why people love watching movies. Some people use movies as an escape from reality, while others enjoy realistic reflection of decades past. Depending on the viewer and the content, movies can evoke feelings of joy, love, sorrow, anger or even confusion. To honor films, the creative minds behind them and showcase this storytelling medium, the Houston Cinema Arts Society is hosting the 10th Houston Cinema Arts Festival from Nov. 8 – 12. However, the festival once again proves it is so much more than just a way to view films; it is an interactive way to engage with art. 

As a five-day, multi-venue film and arts event, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, includes narrative and documentary features, video installation exhibitions, multimedia performances, panel discussions, and workshops aimed at connecting the various literary and performance art through film. The festival venues include the Rice Media Center, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Brasil, Poitín, White Oak Music Hall and Silver Street Studios at Sawyer Yards. So while viewers get to enjoy films, lectures and panel discussions, they’ll also get to experience some of Houston’s premier culinary, arts and entertainment venues.

Some of the headlining pieces include Queerskins: a love story. Queerskins is a virtual reality experience where visitors will wear Oculus headsets that place them in the backseat of a photo-realistic vintage 1986 Cadillac Sedan DeVille, behind the two main characters. Visitors become collaborators in the story as they uncover hidden memorabilia, some of which is recognizable from the virtual experience, open drawers, read a character’s diary, write messages on a mirror in lipstick, and play records. This experience takes three-dimensional movies to another level. Another headliner is A Thousand Thoughts, a live documentary with Sam Green and the Kronos Quartet. This piece will blend the quartet’s live music with narration as Green tells the multi-decade and continent-spanning story of Kronos’ extensive body of work.

Opening Day

On November 8 at 7:30 p.m., head to The Museum of Fine Art, Houston for the screening of Bathtubs Over Broadway. Steve Young, a writer for the Late Show with David Letterman had few interests outside of his day job, until he came across a interesting find while gathering material for the show. He came upon bizarre cast recordings—marked “internal use only” —revealed full-throated Broadway-style musical shows about some of the most recognizable corporations in America: General Electric, McDonald’s, Ford, DuPont, Xerox.

Steve didn’t know much about musical theater, but these recordings delighted him in a way that nothing ever had. Bathtubs follows Steve Young on his quest to uncover all he can about this hidden world. Click here for the full schedule of events

Houston Hip-Hop x Houston Film

This year’s Cinema Arts event will celebrate both the 25th anniversary of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused and the 10th anniversary of Houston Cinema Arts Festival. Taking place at White Oak Music Hall, Houston hip-hop legend Bun B, also a noted cinephile and member of the Houston Cinema Arts Society board, will interview Houston-born Linklater about the remarkable ‘70s and ‘80s musical selections that animated both Dazed and its “spiritual sequel” Everybody Wants Some!! (2016).

The interview will be followed by a set of soundtrack covers by Houston’s Handsomebeast, founders of the irresistible genre dubbed by the pioneers themselves as Space-Rock-Bump-n-Grind. Click here for the full schedule of events

The Showcase

Further, the Houston Film Commission’s Filmmaker’s Showcase will take place on Nov. 10 and is free to the public. This annual event is a 90-minute program that includes the best of Texas-made short films presented to the Hollywood film community and screened throughout Texas. There are seven submissions that range from a nine-minute story about a well-meaning math teacher in a post-facts America to the story of a psychotic fuel tanker driver who plots revenge on the girl that broke his heart.

Keeping It Short

On Sunday, introduce yourself to some non-traditional films by attending Compressed Air: The Best Experimental Films of 2018 at Rice Media Center. From myth to Motown; Berlin to Paris, and beyond; the experimental films in this program explore a gamut of cinematic styles and visual substance. Creativity and imagination abound in this spectacular selection of shorts from around the globe.

Thoughtfully chosen by film critic and University of Houston lecturer Michael Sicinski, this surprising compilation of contemporary short films features several USA, North American and World premieres. Click here for the full schedule of events

Festivalgoers are sure to enjoy the vastly different screenings and experiences that the Houston Cinema Arts Festival has to offer. Tickets can be purchased for individual screenings starting at $12 or all-access passes are available for $149. For the festival’s entire schedule and ticket availability, click here.

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.