Written by: FFT Webmaster | November 7th, 2011
Texas is a place with (at least) two faces. One is the hard won image of the cowboy aesthetic with its rigid moral codes and social absolutism. The other image is decidedly softer and more open, the world renowned Austin music scene, the celebrated arts museums, the world class opera and ballet companies. Houston, the lone star state’s most glittering boom town, embodies the conflicting images. However, tipping the scales in favor of an expansive art-loving internationalism is the Cinema Arts Festival Houston, which will kick off its third annual event on Nov. 9, 2011. The Opening Night attraction is the regional premiere of DOWNTOWN EXPRESS, with both director David Grubin and the filmʼs star, the Russian-American violinist Philippe Quint, will both be in attendance. DOWNTOWN EXPRESS is a love story set in colliding musical worlds — the classical world of Juilliard, where Russian immigrant Sasha (Quint) is training, and the experimental and raucous music scene of Ramona, played by singer-songwriter Nellie McKay. The opening night event will include a live performance by Quint, the first of several live performances in this yearʼs program.
Other live performance highlights include the return to the Festival of the Donald Sosin Ensemble, featuring vocalist Joanna Seaton, which will perform live in accompaniment accompany of the recently rediscovered silent classic UPSTREAM (1927), directed by iconic director John Ford. The film is a backstage comedy-drama that focuses on an egotistical actor and a young couple who partner in a vaudeville knife-throwing act. The film was considered to be lost, but in 2009 it was discovered in the New Zealand Film Archive. “This year, weʼre excited to be expanding not only the live performance but also the interactive media aspects of our multi-arts festival,” Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) artistic director Richard Herskowitz stated.
Other highlights of the program include the premiere of HERE, a drama starring Ben Foster and Lubna Azabal that screened to great acclaim at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals, to be followed by a live hybrid concert that features a multi-screen deconstruction of the film; an installation/performance piece by Miwaa Matreyek; a special screening of the Wim Wenders 3D dance film PINA, a tribute to German choreographer Pina Bausch; a presentation of award-winning filmmaker Lynn Hershman Leeson’s WOMEN, ART, REVOLUTION, a revelatory history of feminist art; the Southern premiere of THE MILL AND THE CROSS, the latest film by Polish artist Lech Majewski that draws inspiration from the paintings of Flemish master painter Peter Bruegel; and the presentation of OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW, a portrait of the great German artist Anselm Kiefer, as directed by Sophie Fiennes. The Festival is also presenting such high profile awards season films as the French contemporary silent homage to silent cinema THE ARTIST, Ralph Fiennes’ adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy CORIOLANUS and Canadian director David Cronenberg’s fascinating look at the professional rivalry between psychoanalysis superstars Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung in A DANGEROUS METHOD. The Festival will end on November 13 with a free outdoor screening of ART CAR: THE MOVIE, which will have its world premiere at the event.
The Festival, in collaboration with Rice Cinema, is hosting a career retrospective of the celebrated Chilean director Patricio Guzman. The showcase will highlight five projects that highlight the director’s wide-ranging intellectual explorations of art, religion and astronomy under the umbrella title Patricio Guzmánʼs Universe: Reflections on Art, Science, Religion and History. The Festival also rolls out the red carpet to honor Austin native Ethan Hawke, whose career has spanned theater and film acting and directing as well as novel writing. Hawke will present his latest film THE WOMAN IN THE FIFTH and receive the Levantine Cinema Arts Award from the Festival, honoring his multifaceted career in the arts. Fellow Texan director Richard Linklater will join Hawke for a tenth anniversary screening of their 2001 collaboration, TAPE. For more information on the Houston happenings, visit: http://cinemartsociety.org/cinema-artist-festival-houston/2011-festival/