Scene from the movie “Women Talking”
Photo: United Artists Releasing/Orion P
When former Houston Cinema Arts Film Festival artistic director Jessica Green returned to her hometown of New York City in August, the Houston Cinema Arts Society — the organization that runs the festival — faced a bit of a dilemma. With only three months left until the annual celebration of independent film, which kicked off with a free screening on November 4th and then officially ran from November 10th to 17th in various locations, there wasn’t much time to pull it off.
“I was very concerned about running a festival without an artistic director,” said Jim Townsend, executive director of the Houston Cinema Arts Society. “I was really excited for her and for the position she got … but the timing was awkward because it was mid-year. She had already programmed a few things, or at least started the process. We knew that. We either had to find a new artistic director quickly or program the festival without one, which was quite a daunting thing to do.”
Still, Townsend decided to try the intimidating thing by outsourcing this year’s program to the Austin Film Society’s Jazmyne Moreno, while he was still looking for a permanent artistic director. “The way I saw it, they were two separate issues,” he says. “We want an artistic director to be part of this organization that understands what we’re trying to build here in a conversation with our community… So we wanted to give that search time, and the festival didn’t really give us that time.” So it became a separate question who can program this year’s festival.”
Moreno was one of the people Green recommended. “When we initially met with Jazmyne, I was really excited that we had someone who was young, cool, who understood the organization’s mission, and who was from Texan. She’s in Austin, but that means she has access to the resources that the Austin Film Society… So it was an opportunity for us to build on our partnership with the Austin Film Society, which is important to us.”
The result is a festival with many films worth searching for. Here are 10 recommendations:
Still from “Apollo 10 1/2”
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix
‘Apollo 10 1/2’ – Richard Linklater’s warm-hearted, animated chronicle of life in Houston in the late ’60s was released on Netflix in the spring, but now it’s free to watch outdoors on the big screen as a family-friendly pre-festival event. 8 p.m., November 4, Miller Outdoor Theatre.
Jeremy Pope in “The Inspection”
‘The Inspection’ — The opening film is an anticipated drama about a gay black man in the military. Jeremy Pope, Gabrielle Union, Bokeem Woodbine star. 8 p.m., November 10, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Scene from the movie “All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed” — Remarkable documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras (“Citizenfour”) chronicles the life of photographer Nan Goldin, her fight against the opioid epidemic, and the Sackler family of Purdue Pharmaceuticals. 7 p.m. November 11, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Scene from the Montrose Numbers Club documentary, “Friday I’m in Love”
Photo: Courtesy/Courtesy photo
“Friday I’m in love— Marcus Pontello’s documentary is a loving look at Houston’s longtime dance club, Numbers, and its impact on a variety of the city’s subcultures. 6:30 p.m. Nov. 12, Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
Tsar Amir Ebrahimi in a scene from Holy Spider. Ebrahimi plays a journalist investigating a serial killer who murders women and sex workers in the eastern Iranian city of Mashhad.
Photo: Associated Press
‘Holy Spider’ — This Iranian film about a reporter investigating a serial killer who murders sex workers seems particularly relevant given what is happening in Iran. The film won a Best Actress award at Cannes for Star Zar Amir-Ebrahimi. 9 p.m. November 12, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Ben Whishaw plays August, Rooney Mara as Ona and Claire Foy as Salome in Sarah Polley’s film Women Talking.
Photo: Michael Gibson/Orion Publication by L/Michael Gibson
“women talk” — Claire Foy, Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley star in this drama set in the world of an ultra-conservative religious sect where women debate whether to leave or stay. Directed by Sarah Polley (“Away From Her”, “Stories We Tell”). 3 p.m. November 13, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.
Lilas and Shery in the movie ‘Sirens’
‘Sirens’ — Documentary about the Middle East’s first female thrash metal band. 7:30 p.m., November 15, Asia Society Texas
Jazz pianist Thelonious Monk performs in this July 5, 1963 file photo at the Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, RI.
‘Rewind & Play’ — A testy 1969 television interview between pioneering jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and a French interviewer forms the basis of filmmaker Alain Gomis’ documentary. 7:30pm Nov 15, DeLuxe Theater.
Scene from the movie “100 Ways to Cross the Border”
Photo: Courtesy of Houston Cinema Arts Fes
“100 Ways to Cross the Border” — A hybrid documentary/performance by Mexican/Chicano performance artist Guillermo Gómez-Peña. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15, Talento Bilingual Houston
“With Peter Bradley” — A work-in-progress documentary screening of Peter Bradley, the black artist who broke the color barrier in the Houston art world in the 1970’s, and an exhibition of some of his work. 7:30pm Nov 16, DeLuxe Theater.
When: November 4th and November 10th to 17th
Where: Various venues