OK, well, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival has begun, so its a little late for me to still be slicing up the programming. But I’ve got one more. My final cut of the fest here focuses on the homegrown. There are various Texas connections sprinkled throughout this year’s program, from docs on Texas artists past and present, to various shorts and feature films by Texas filmmakers. Here are a few of those being screened in the festival over the next few days, for those of you who take pride in the crazy cultural ecology of the Lone Star universe. Eat local culture!
Jazz innovator Ornette Coleman hails from Fort Worth, and the city figures prominently in Shirley Clarke’s 1985 documentary portrait, Ornette: Made In America. A musical artist from Corpus Christi who shook the world with a very different sound is Tejana icon Selena, whose hometown, music, life, and impact are explored in two documentaries by filmmaker Lourdes Portillo, shown together. (I realize that Coleman and Selena would seem, to most, to be from different planets. But here in Texas we’re used to bold voices in a wide range of styles. And the ONLY way I could explain my equal love for “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom” and Coleman’s avant-garde “harmelodics” is to say simply that I’m from Texas.)
An artist that I’m a little less familiar with, but like what I’ve heard from, is lo-fi rock singer-songwriter Bill Callahan (aka Smog). He’s a relatively recent transplant (he moved to Austin a couple of years ago), but he’s a welcome addition to the Texas music stew. Houston-based filmmaker Hanly Banks’ experimental documentary Apocalypse captures live performances and glimpses of life on the road from Callahan’s most recent US tour.
Filmmaker Andrew Garrison’s Trash Dance follows Austin choreographer Allison Orr as she creates an unusual performance piece with garbage trucks and collaborating with sanitation workers. It was given a Special Jury Recognition at SXSW this spring. Director Andrew Garrison and choreographer Allison Orr will be in attendance for the festival screening.
The Texas Filmmakers Showcase program of great new Texas-made short films and videos was organized by the Houston Film Commission with a selection committee of national film industry professionals. The program ranges from live action to animation, narrative to experimental. It includes work by Houston filmmakers Kelly Sears and Chris Spisak, as well as directors from Austin, San Antonio, and Denton. A variety crate of good, fresh, local produce.
Pictures of Superheroes is an indie comedy from Austin-based filmmaker Don Swaynos and starring Kerri Lendo, Shannon McCormick, and the always funny John Merriman (from Houston). Marie is hired as a maid by a businessman who also asks her to pretend to be his wife. Meanwhile she becomes close to an oddball who lives in the house and draws superheroes. Director Don Swaynos and star John Merriman will be in attendance. And Director Thomas Hackett’s Austin production, Big Boy, about a divorced mother in her 40s joining her 22-year old son’s struggling rock band, features Austin singer/songwriter Hilary York, who also did the music. Director Thomas Hackett and actress Dawnica Mathis will be in attendance for that screening.
CINEMA ARTS FEST Cheat Sheet Schedule #3
FRIDAY, NOV. 9:
7 short films, approx. 98 minutes total.
Alfred Cervantes and some filmmakers scheduled to attend.
(2012, Dir. Andrew Garrison, 65 minutes)
Director Andrew Garrison and choreographer Allison Orr in attendance.
(1999, Director Lourdes Portillo, 47 minutes)
Shown with CONVERSATIONS WITH INTELLECTUALS ABOUT SELENA
(1999, Director Lourdes Portillo, 58 min.).
Director Lourdes Portillo in attendance.
SATURDAY, NOV 10:
(2012, Dir. Thomas Hackett, 79 minutes)
Austin-made narrative feature film, starring singer/songwriter Hilary York.
Director Thomas Hackett and actress Dawnica Mathis in attendance.
(1985, Dir. Shirley Clarke, 85 minutes)
Shirley Clarke’s doc on free jazz musician Ornette Coleman.
Q&A with Dennis Doros and Amy Heller of Milestone Films.
(2012, Dir. Hanly Banks, 60 minutes)
SUNDAY NOV 11:
(2012, Dir. Don Swaynos, 70 min.)
Austin-made comedy. Director Don Swaynos and star John Merriman in attendance.