The 2015 festival is over, the best-attended and received of the seven (out of seven) I’ve programmed. Appreciative expressions by both festival audiences and guest artists have been conveyed to me and other festival personnel in many messages and ways. These have wiped away my exhaustion, and so I’m recharged and nearly ready to get started on HCAF 2016. First, however, I want to reminisce. I’m reaching into my iPhone and the festival’s photo albums to share a few favorite images and memories. Opening day began with a visit to Bun B and Anthony Pinn’s “Hip-Hop and Religion” class at Rice University. I escorted the class’s special guest, Christopher “Play” Martin, seen here being greeted by Bun. What a phenomenal interviewer Bun B is, as he proved again that night on stage talking about Janis’ Port Arthur roots with Amy Berg after our Texas premiere of Janis: Little Girl Blue. Sitting in front of me in class, greatly enjoying Play’s reflections on hip-hop music, dance, fashion, and fame, was the amazing Lynn Wyatt, who posed with Play later at our opening night reception at the MFAH. Cut to two nights later, and you’re backstage with me at the Cinema Arts Celebration at Brasil, where Kid ‘n Play were about to launch into their “rap battle” from House Party (after a microphone glitch was solved in the nick of time with the help of Brasil’s calm and collected owner, Dan Fergus). A Facebook post of their timeless dance number at Brasil has garnered nearly two million views. How are we ever going to top this party? Well, we will certainly try. Technical issues also created suspense at the screening of Satellite Beach, the culmination of our glorious CineSpace Day at the MFAH. Luke Wilson managed to get on Skype for the first time ever, after a bout of the flu kept him from flying to Houston. When the connection was made after 20 minutes, during which time co-director Andrew Wilson and producer Steve Eckelman and moderator Joe Leydon kept the crowd informed and entertained, Luke burst onto the screen, looming like Big Brother over his actual big brother Andrew. Dosed on Robitussin, lounging in the kitchen with a dog ambling in and out of the frame, Luke was comfortable and hilarious. We should definitely do more Skypes with guest stars in the future. Here’s another favorite image from the festival, photographed by Jeanne Liotta, showing Julia Oldham, Jeanne’s fellow artist in the CineSpace gallery installation at She Works Flexible on Dunlavy and Westheimer. Julia is standing alongside a section of Kidlat Tahimik’s temporary installation, depicting the allure and resistance to Hollywood by Third World filmmakers, in the gallery. Kidlat himself can be seen photographing the installation, which he and his son carried with them from the Philippines. The CineSpace exhibition of outer space-themed media art works by Liotta, Oldham, Laura Heit, Kelly Sears, and David Janesko is on view through December 5, and, take my word for it, you should run to see this. A few other unforgettable moments: As I moderated the post-Krisha discussion with Krisha Fairchild and Trey Edward Shults, recipient of the first Levantine Emerging Artist Award, his cast (mostly members of his family) stormed the stage and joined in one of the most lively and moving discussions I can remember. Live music at our festival was more lively and varied than ever before. Audiences who arrived at Sundance Cinemas for The Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes, and the Course of Country Music, were treated to a pre-screening concert by the dazzling Americana group, Hogan and Moss. And audiences who came to see The Jones Family Will Make a Way at the MFAH and Don’t Think I’ve Forgotten at the Asia Society heard stirring performances by the Jones Family Singers and Chhom Nimol and Zac Holtzman of Dengue Fever. There were so many wonderful guest artists at this year’s event, and they were very happy to socialize together in the Lancaster Hotel, visit the Rothko exhibit at the MFAH and the Menil Treasure Rooms together, and, especially, attend each other’s programs. I will have more to say about their events in our Yearbook, which will be published and made available online in mid-winter. Each guest took home a whistle (seen below) specially carved by Connie Roberts to reflect the work the artist presented in the festival. They could not have been more delighted.
On opening night of our seventh annual Festival, a great musical artist from Port Arthur, Texas, Bun B, will pay homage to his illustrious predecessor from the same hometown, Janis Joplin. Bun will lead the Q&A with Oscar nominated director Amy Berg, who has made a provocative film exploring Joplin’s music and her complicated relationship with her native state. And so will begin the most Texas-centric Festival we have ever mounted. It’s partly so because of the Texas artists whose stories we’re featuring, including Doug Sahm, whose filmed biography will be told and hosted here by the great Austin-based music writer, now filmmaker, Joe Nick Patoski. Sahm, like Janis, took off and achieved fame in flower-powered San Francisco. Unlike Janis, Sahm lived long enough to reconnect deeply with his musical roots, returning to launch the Tex-Mex super group, The Texas Tornados. The primary reason for our Texas emphasis is the explosion of cinematic talent here. Raised in Houston, Trey Edward Shults filmed Krisha last year in nearby Montgomery, and the film’s cinematic and emotional power blew everyone away at the SXSW Film Festival last March; it swept both the Grand Jury and Audience Prizes. Shults and his aunt, lead performer Krisha Fairchild, will be joined by other cast and crew as he screens his film at the MFAH and receives the first Levantine Emerging Artist Award from Levantine Films. Patrick Wang, born in Sugar Land, is returning home to present two independent films that have garnered much acclaim in the indie film community, In the Family and The Grief of Others. And former Houston SWAMP and Austin Film Society staff member Katie Cokinos is bringing her debut feature, I Dream Too Much, accompanied by its producer, our state’s most highly regarded director, Richard Linklater. Rick has been making biennial visits to our Festival since we launched it in 2009 with his wonderful Me and Orson Welles. Given our fixation on our home city and state this year, it was only natural that we turned to our most illustrious agency, NASA, for a cinematic partnership. NASA has put up its amazing archive of space footage and photography online, and together we invited filmmakers around the world to create short films utilizing this material. 194 films were submitted and 16 exceptional short films were chosen to be screened at the CineSpace Awards Screening on Friday, November 13. Five of those, chosen by Richard Linklater and NASA judges, will earn cash prizes, and the audience will also get to vote on an audience prize winner. The awards screening is the centerpiece event of CineSpace Day at the MFAH, which will also include continuous screenings of Marco Brambilla’s Apollo XVIII and a free presentation by Time Magazine filmmakers of their ongoing online documentary series on astronaut Scott Kelly, A Year in Space. That’s not all, because more illustrious Texans are dropping by – William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert will present a 20th anniversary screening of their Oscar nominated Apollo 13, and Luke and Andrew Wilson will wrap up the day with their hilarious, space shuttle-crazy short film, Satellite Beach. CineSpace will blast off from the MFAH and land at She Works Flexible gallery beside Brasil on Dunlavy and Westheimer, where artists Jeanne Liotta, Laura Heit, and Julia Oldham will present interactive, multimedia space-themed installations and performances on view through December 12. It will also pick up a Filipino passenger, Kidlat Tahimik, who will present a screening, an installation, and a live performance at Aurora Picture Show on November 13. Tahimik’s first two films, The Perfumed Nightmare and Who Invented the YoYo? Who Invented the Moon Buggy (both in our program), fantasized the creation of a Third World space program to rival NASA. Tahimik also says that the Apollo 6 mission inspired him to become a filmmaker, and that a visit to Houston and NASA has been a lifelong dream. There is much more to read about in the highlights and film blurbs sections that follow, including our tribute to Kartemquin Films with its legendary founder, Gordon Quinn and documentary scholar and activist Patricia Aufderheide, and two presentations by the brilliant director, cinematographer, and theorist on black aesthetics, Arthur Jafa. These programs are co-sponsored with Aurora Picture Show, Project Row Houses, and SWAMP, just three of the many Houston arts organizations who collaborate with Houston Cinema Arts Society all year on planning and mounting our ambitious schedule. Of course, the heart of our program is the extensive collection of the best new films by and about artists, and this year’s program includes a special emphasis on “Fringe Theater and Politics,” with three visiting experimental theater directors from Estonia and Israel, and on architecture, since we have joined forces with the excellent ArCH Film Festival and welcomed them into our program. As always, we are striving to highlight film’s interactions with other art forms with live music and film performances by Kid ‘n Play, Jones Family Singers, Dengue Fever’s Chhom Nimol and Zac Holtzman, and Hogan and Moss. Live-ness, embodied in our many Q&As with guest artists, the interactivity of our media installations, and our many musical and theatrical performances, is what festivals like ours aim to inject back into the movie-going, screen-gazing experience. So come alive with us for a week in November!
I’m sitting in an Industry Suite surrounded by many other industry professionals (distributors, sales agents, producers, exhibitors, etc.), and that’s the bubble I’ll be in all week. I’ve been coming to this festival for 31 years (!) and I do miss the excitement of the public screenings, and their extremely enthusiastic and intelligent audiences (it always amazed me how much I learned from listening in on people’s film conversations while on movie lines). The enthusiasm can be notoriously deceptive; distributors may sense from an ovation and festival buzz that a film is going to be a hit, outbid their rivals for the rights, then see the film sink in the cruel indie film marketplace. In spite of this, thankfully, festivals remain a utopian realm for the appreciation of cinematic art, defying the multiplex marketplace. So many industry pros make the trek to Toronto that the organizers have created a parallel festival of screenings just for those of us with industry or press badges. It’s great, because the lines aren’t massive and it’s easy to move between the fourteen Scotiabank Theater screens and see five or six films a day. The experience, though, can be the opposite of the public screenings. Industry people are too cool for school when it comes to responding with laughter and other signs of enthusiasm. They also walk out a lot, which is disconcerting, but may very well be because they are sampling each film and don’t want to miss the start of another one. That happened during London Road, a lavish film of a British stage musical with a remarkable Steve Reichian avant-garde score. The actors sing the words of actual working class Londoners responding to a serial killing in their neighborhood. It’s a neo-realist movie musical and I’ve never seen anything like it, and I loved it. Other films that impressed me a lot, and are prospects for our upcoming festival of arts films, include Gillian Armstrong’s The Women He Undressed, about the gay Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly. It’s great to see Armstrong (director of wonderful features like My Brilliant Career and Hightide) back in the saddle, and having so much playful fun with the documentary form. I was also impressed with the new Chet Baker biopic, Born To Be Blue, starring Ethan Hawke in an impressive, committed performance. Just yesterday, I was talking with another programmer about how awful biopics tend to be, and then this fine one comes along, that barely hits a wrong note. My next industry screening will be Wavelengths, the nightly avant-garde program, curated by the amazing Andrea Picard, that’s a combined industry and public screening. It’s a privilege to see the challenging, totally un-commercial films in Wavelengths projected with exquisite sound and image to a packed, appreciative house of cinephiles. Wavelengths will be followed by Janis: Little Girl Blue, a film about the glorious singer from Port Chester, Texas, that could be a perfect choice for one of my few remaining HCAF slots.
Take a look through both the Society and Festival websites, if you haven’t seen them in a while, and you will notice that we have a new color scheme. The Society chooses a new color scheme for the Festival every year to keep things fresh. It is a tradition that dates back to the beginning of the Festival in 2009 and is one of the fun behind-the-scenes collaborations between the board of directors and the staff. It is a particularly joyful exercise for me because it falls within my creative wheelhouse of experience. Before I joined the Society as Executive Director in 2010, I was a costume designer in theatre and film while also teaching full-time at Rice University as the Director of Theatre, along with a few classes for the Graduate Design Program at the University of Houston School of Theatre. One of my areas of expertise happens to be color and as you might guess, one of my favorite classes to teach is color theory. I love teaching, almost anyone who will listen, how the human eye sees color, the relationships between the different hues, the various approaches to color theory as a scientific study, and in the process, helping others learn that they too can master the art of color. Each year I start the process with a study of the color trends based on the Pantone color of the year. Pantone is one of the leading color forecasters in the U.S. for the fashion, interiors, and decorative industries. Pantone announces the color annually in January and this year it is a dark wine-red, dubbed Marsala. The next step is to prepare a visual color study for the board of directors to get their feedback — our own bit of market research. Once we reach a consensus about the direction of the color scheme the next step is to work with our graphics designer, Jenny Conte, principal of Sharp Egg, who prepares mock-ups of the annual marquee poster to show us various options. Then it gets really fun — back to the board for a vote. You will see in the photo illustration how we vote. Everyone tags their favorites with a post-it along with comments. Let the best color combination win! The result of the vote this year was evenly tied between Lucite Green and Biscay Bay as two companion colors to compliment Marsala. We consulted with the HCAS Marketing Committee to break the tie. In the end, we made a small alteration by brightening up the Marsala with a touch more red. I hope you will like the new colors and would love to hear from you. Have you noticed the color change over the years? If you have been a long-term Society member then you can look back at the t-shirts that came with your benefits and see the color history of the Festival. We would love to see all those past t-shirts this year, in fact, stay tuned for an announcement about a designated day to wear your colors at the seventh annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, November 12 – 19, 2015 — it will be here before you know it.
I have often welcomed volunteers to Houston Cinema Arts Society with this statement, “It all starts with a pencil.” It’s my way of letting them know that all volunteer tasks from the small and easy to the more challenging are equally important. Like a connect-the-dots image, each task is related to the big picture. For several years in a row one of our stalwart sponsors has contributed 1,000 pencils annually. Pencils are needed for attendees to fill out demographic and opinion surveys. Our sponsor’s pencils were much appreciated; however, they weren’t sharpened. Have you ever sharpened 1,000 pencils? Well, I’ll tell you it takes quite a long time, even with an electric sharpener. Time is something our staff of four doesn’t have a lot of, especially as we approach the Opening Night of the Festival. Sure, we could purchase those small yellow golf pencils that are already sharpened, but every penny counts and we are grateful for both the contribution and the understanding of how important it is that we have pencils. You may be thinking “Why are the surveys so important?” The simple answer is that surveys provide the demographic and quality measurement data that we need for local, state, and national government and foundation grant applications. This year alone, grant awards accounted for $95,000 in funding. That is approximately 16% of our annual budget! Without the pencils, Festival attendees can’t fill out the surveys. Without the surveys we can’t provide the data required for the grant applications. Without the grant awards we would lose up to 16% of our annual financial support. It all starts with the pencil! How do we solve the pencil sharpening challenge? Volunteers come to the rescue of course. We do what we can to make the task as pleasant as possible by providing a space in our office, all of the electric sharpeners from staff desks, a monitor and headphones to watch screeners (yes, the ones screened in the Festival), and popcorn (donated of course). Once volunteers understand the importance of the pencils, they are eager to serve on the ‘pencil sharpening team.’ We have even had a few volunteers come back for multiple sessions and request that no one else finish the job. Whether it is sharpening pencils, running errands, taking tickets, counting heads, distributing marketing collateral, or serving on the ‘standing by team,’ in case we need something we didn’t even know we needed, all volunteer hours are essential to the smooth operations of our various programs. On average, 100 volunteers provide Houston Cinema Arts Society over 1,000 hours of service. I was a volunteer in 2009 before joining as Executive Director in 2010. We have volunteer opportunities all year long. It takes months to prepare for the Festival and in the meantime, we have ongoing year-round programs like our new Artist’s Choice Film Series, Julydoscope, and HCAS on the Road Education Outreach. Volunteering is fun and rewarding. You will have the satisfaction of knowing that you have helped us bring excellent and unique arts programming to the city and you can also earn festival tickets and passes. To learn more about the details of volunteering click here: http://houstoncinemaartsfestival.org/support/volunteer I invite you all to join the fun. Please sign up to volunteer today. All best, Trish
At the moment, I am swamped with preview copies of new films by and about artists, all in consideration for HCAF 2015. I solicited each and every one of these from their creators or distributors, after noticing them in the schedules of other festivals, seeing them reviewed in Variety and elsewhere, or having them recommended to me by festival partners, board members, and colleagues in the field. None of them came in unsolicited, and this puzzles many filmmakers, since it is not the way most festivals do business. Most festivals have an open call for submissions, and filmmakers check the website of festivals or festival submission services like WithoutABox to find out about the festival’s deadline, entry fee, and interests. Filmmakers who wish to have their films considered for our program receive the following message: The Houston Cinema Arts Festival is a curated festival and does not conduct an open call for film submissions. Our artistic director solicits preview screeners of films that fit our mission to present “films by and about visual, performing, and literary artists.” We are particularly interested in films of high artistic quality that benefit from theatrical presentation, and we give special consideration to films made by Texas filmmakers. If you have a new film made in the past two years that you think may be of interest to us, then please do send an email with a description of your film, with links to reviews if available, to Richard@cinemartsociety.org. If the film seems promising, then we will contact you and request a screener link and no entry fee. I see the Houston Cinema Arts Festival as a “temporary museum,” a term Oberhausen Short Film Festival Director Lars Henrik Gass has used to describe curated festivals. It’s an exhibition of cinematic art that attempts to cover a broad range of art forms, and also contains mini-exhibitions around themes like “street photography” in 2014 and “space” in 2015. As curator, I select all the films, but not entirely on my own, since I solicit ideas and jointly program with many festival partners, including Marian Luntz at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Mary Magsamen at the Aurora Picture Show, Evan Wildstein at the Asia Society, Ryan Dennis at Project Row Houses, and many more. There is one, brand new exception to this rule and that is the CineSpace competition, which is our open call for films that rework sounds and images from space supplied by our partner, NASA. The deadline for entries is July 31, and there are substantial prizes of up to $10,000 and no entry fees! We expect many submissions, and so a pre-screening committee will join me in reviewing the submissions and making recommendations to the competition’s judge, Richard Linklater. You can expect to see the top films from this contest at a special screening during the HCAF week.
Summer is in full swing and that has me thinking about our next big event – JULYDOSCOPE on Saturday, July 18, at Discovery Green. It is hard to believe that this year will be our fifth anniversary. I think the older I get the faster time flies. If you haven’t attended the event in the past, I bet you are thinking that it is just too hot to be outdoors in mid-July. Well, Discovery Green must be a great location because as soon as the sun goes down past the skyline, it is wonderful – sometimes even a tad cool! How did JULYDOSCOPE get its name? When we first brainstormed about what type of programming we could do for the summer, we started thinking about how much fun it is to combine live performances and film in one evening. We do that during the Houston Cinema Arts Festival so why not stick with a winning combination. We are especially fond of dance at HCAS and it seemed a natural to invite local dance companies to perform and follow with a film musical or film about music. Choosing from all of the wonderful dance talent in H-town proved to be difficult so we narrowed down our choices that first year by looking for a variety of styles and cultures to present – it became a kaleidoscope of the arts, dance, style, cultures, and film. Our great PR rep at On the Mark Communications, Mark Sullivan, suggested we play off the kaleidoscope idea and came up with JULYDOSCOPE! The name stuck, as did the approach to programming. With help from collaborator Stephanie Todd Wong at Dance Source Houston, we have presented over 20 different companies since that first JULYDOSCOPE in 2011, representing modern, contemporary, ballet, Indian, Ballet Folklorico, hip-hop, Flamenco, African, Asian, and Greek dance. We love seeing the diversity of the dance reflected in the diversity of the audience. It really feels like Houston – like home to this native. Films presented over the years include Xanadu, The Wiz, Hairspray (the original), and Twenty Feet From Stardom. This year Shake the Dust is sure to be a crowd pleaser. I can’t wait to see the kids trying their hip-hop styles out as they get inspired. In fact, that is one of my favorite things about JULYDOSCOPE – the kids! From the littlest who inch closer and closer to the stage and try to emulate the dancers’ moves to the teens who could probably give us their own show, it is a great pleasure to see them all getting inspired and enjoying a midsummer night in the park. Did I mention that JULYDOSCOPE is also the same night as Flea by Night? Every third Saturday of the month Discovery Green gathers local vendors for an evening of shopping in the southeast corner of the park. From modern to vintage furniture to recycled and repurposed collectibles, there is something for everyone. It so fits our kaleidoscope theme. There will also be food trucks! I do love food trucks! Come out and join us, you will be glad you did! And it’s free! If you do, give us a shout out on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. by posting a photo of the event using #julydoscope. Every posting is an entry for a drawing for passes to Houston Cinema Arts Festival in November (must be present to win). There will also be a trivia contest between dance performances for more chances to win passes so study up on your hip-hop! More info at http://cinemartsociety.org/events/event/julydoscope-2015-2
School may be out for the summer but students are very much on my mind these days. Houston Cinema Arts Society launched a new education outreach initiative this spring, which grew directly from the Film Festival Field Trip (FFFT) program that has been a part of the annual November Festival since 2011. I thought it might be interesting to share with our readers, members, and sponsors how FFFT started and more about its new sister program that reaches out to schools year-round —“HCAS on the Road”. In 2011, we realized that we had an opportunity. Most of the Festival screenings were presented in the afternoons and evenings, leaving the theaters unused in the morning. So we started thinking about the best way to make the highest and best use of that down-time to serve the HCAS mission. I know from my years of experience teaching theatre at Rice University before I came to HCAS in 2010 that it is never too late for the arts to make a difference in people’s lives. HCAS is dedicated to presenting films about the visual, performing, and literary arts. My colleague HCAS Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz, who teaches film at University of Oregon, and I are both passionate about arts education. All these factors came together to inspire Film Festival Field Trip as a free education outreach program for area high schools. From the first screening of Shakespeare High with producer Brad Koepenick, attended by 200 in 2011, to the four screenings and nearly 900 in attendance in 2014, we know that students respond to opportunities to talk to filmmakers. We have watched with great excitement as students interacted with guest artists, from those behind the scenes to the actors on the screen, like they were rock stars. We discovered that many schools could not bring their students to the Festival for a variety of reasons from budget for buses to limitations on the number of off-campus events. Teachers began asking us to bring the films to their campuses. We listened and launched “HCAS on the Road” this spring with a screening of Thunder Soul at Chavez High School. Thunder Soul is a Houston story about bandleader Conrad “Prof” Johnson, who inspired his students in the late 1960s and early 1970s to become the legendary Kashmere High School Stage Band. He taught his students that through dedication and commitment anything is possible. It is a story about students just like the ones in the audience at Chavez. If you haven’t seen the film, the students of Chavez High School highly recommend it with a five-star rating. We were convinced when we heard them cheer, whoop, and applaud as four former band members, who appeared in the film, joined us for a Q&A after screening that “HCAS on the Road” had made an impact. When former band members Reginal Nelson and Timothy Thompson, took to the piano with an impromptu performance and the students gathered around to take selfies — we knew that there is a good chance that the film made a difference in how those students saw the world and their own place in it.
It’s May, and, for me, that means that planning for the next Houston Cinema Arts Festival will start ramping up. The Cannes Film Festival has just started, and so upcoming fall and winter releases related to our arts theme are just now coming into view. For example, Paolo Sorrentino’s (The Great Beauty) new film, Youth, starring Michael Caine as an aging composer, will premiere in the next few days and I’ll be keeping my eye on the film’s reception and distribution plans. Since last November’s festival ended, my primary programming efforts have turned to Cinema Pacific, a spring festival I’ve been programming in Eugene and Portland, Oregon since 2010, and that wrapped its sixth edition on May 3. The two festivals I program complement each other. As I wrote in an earlier blog entry, learning about the importance of James Blue to Houston’s film history sparked my efforts to help gain him greater recognition in Oregon, where he was raised and educated. This has inspired several Cinema Pacific screenings of films made and inspired by Blue, including this year’s presentation of a remarkably well-made parody of Hamlet that Blue made while an undergraduate at the University of Oregon. Also, this year, I took a portion of Deborah Colton Gallery’s 2013 Jonas Mekas exhibition, on which HCAS had collaborated when we jointly brought Jonas Mekas to Houston, and installed it at the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in Eugene. It’s been a pleasure collaborating with Deborah, and exposing audiences in both Houston and Eugene to this major artist’s cinematic and photographic works. I have, on several occasions, used Cinema Pacific as an out-of-town tryout for programs that, when they really clicked with audiences, earned an invitation to Houston. People were blown away by Hao Jie’s film The Love Songs of Tiedan in Eugene in 2013; in Houston later that year, I was able to go further and invite the two magnetic leads, Yelan Jiang and Feng Si, to sing and dance onstage at the Asia Society after the screening. This year, the featured artist at Cinema Pacific was the “father of the New Filipino Cinema,” Kidlat Tahimik, whose classic film The Perfumed Nightmare was a revelation to many. I realized that the film’s fantasy of creating a Third World space program to rival NASA’s will be a wonderful complement to our CineSpace competition. What’s more, Tahimik crosses over art forms, supplementing his screenings with a live performance and a sculptural installation, and so he is perfect for our Houston festival. I have extended the invitation, and you can look forward to meeting Kidlat in November.
HCAF’s screenings in the Brasil Courtyard were so successful last November, that Brasil owner Dan Fergus invited us to come back with a monthly series. I’d been thinking about the “Artist’s Choice” idea for a while – inviting artists to select and talk about a favorite film on their own chosen art form. There never seemed to be room for this in the always-overcrowded festival program, and so Dan Fergus’ invitation provided the opportunity I had been waiting for. The first artist I approached was Geoff Winningham, the renowned photographer (Friday Night at the Coliseum and nine other books) who has been teaching at Rice since 1969. Geoff is a familiar face at Brasil, and has shown new work at the gallery next door, most recently last fall. Geoff had two photography film suggestions right off the bat—Michael Almereyda’s William Eggleston in the Real World and Thom Andersen’s Eadweard Muybridge’s Zoopraxographer. A tough choice, but Andersen’s 1975 film has only just been restored and eminently deserves rediscovery, and so Muybridge won and will kick off the series on April 20. A connection between Andersen and Winningham is the influence on both by James Blue, who advised Andersen while he was working on his film at UCLA and who became Winningham’s good friend and colleague in the Seventies at Rice University. My next invitation went out to Greg Boyd, artistic director at the Alley Theatre. Greg recently moderated a great conversation with Julie Taymor on the opening night of our last festival, and had written us a nice appreciation of the other theater films we had screened, especially Rumstick Road with Spalding Gray. Greg responded with an impressive list of favorite theater films, including The Band Wagon, Floating Weeds, The Seventh Seal, All About Eve, Limelight, All That Jazz, Children of Paradise, To Be or Not To Be, and Story of the Last Chrysanthemum. Also on the list, to my surprise and delight, was the 1973 horror/comedy Theater of Blood, starring Vincent Price and Diana Rigg. That one won out because, unlike most of Greg’s other selections, it has a manageable running time for a weeknight screening (June 16), and because I can’t wait to hear what Greg has to say about it. Our third Artist’s Choice guest will be Trish Herrera of the Mydolls, whose significant claim to movie fame is her band’s appearance in Paris Texas, Wim Wenders’ film shot in Houston. At the top of Trish’s list were two films that are at the top of my own roster of favorite rock n’ roll movies, Robert Frank’s Cocksucker Blues and Quadrophenia. We went with the Who’s Quadrophenia since Cocksucker Blues can and should only be seen on the big MFAH screen. You must come on August 17 and see this fantastic British neo-realist musical with a great Who soundtrack and a striking performance by a young Mr. Sting. Which artists should I invite to select future Artist’s Choice screenings? Suggestions are welcome, and if you’re an artist yourself, tell me on Facebook what films you’d nominate and you may get an invitation from me to come present a film at Brasil.