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HCAF 2020 is inspired by the theme “urbana,” which plays off the globally popular Spanish-language music genre música urbana. This year’s Festival will explore how Houston is a kind of ground zero for urbana, and it will include tributes to Selena and DJ Screw in honor of the 25th and 20th anniversaries of their untimely passing. The roots of urbana lie in the intermingling that occurred in the Americas and the Caribbean between indigenous and African music and cultures during the transatlantic slave trade and the subsequent influence of modern African-American culture on art and music. Urbana’s influence within music as well as outside of it is explored through film, performance, dance, literature, and art, in keeping with the Festival’s focus on the intersection of art forms.


Mogul Mowgli

When a British-Pakastani rapper is struck down by an autoimmune disease, he is forced to grapple with his own childhood in the UK and his family’s cultural heritage through visions of his father’s fleeing from India during the partition of India and Pakistan. This is the Texas premiere.

>> Read More about Mogul Mowgli Here >>
>> Watch Mogul Mowgli >>


Mother I Am Suffocating. This is My Last Film About You.

A farewell letter, a furious lamentation to a mother, a land, a hero, a victim, a martyr. An exhibition of stolen memories and open wounds. “I saw in you what they saw, mother. You deserve your war.”

>> Read More about Mother I Am Suffocating. Here >>
>> Watch Mother I Am Suffocating. >>


After a shocking incident upends her family life and marriage to a tempestuous choreographer (Gael García Bernal), Ema (Mariana Di Girolamo), a reggaeton dancer, sets out on an odyssey of personal liberation in this incendiary drama about art, desire, and the modern family from director Pablo Larraín (No, Neruda, Jackie).

>> Read More about Ema Here >>
>> Watch Ema >>

Shogun Assassin – 40th Anniversary

Following the murder of his wife at the hands of an evil shogun, an avenging ronin (Tomisaburo Wakayama) roams the countryside with his young son—and the boy’s sword-shooting baby carriage—in tow, dispatching ninja assassins with steely resolve in operatically stylized flurries of hallucinatory violence. 

>> Read More about Shogun Assassin Here >>

DJ Red “Chopped and Screwed” DJ Set from Screwed Up Records

Tune in for a FREE live DJ set straight from the iconic Houston location, Screwed Up Records. DJ Red will perform a 2 hour set as part of our opening weekend program. Co-presented by CAMH’s exhibition Slowed and Throwed: Records of the City Through Mutated Lenses, part of the festival’s “Urbana” themed programming, and in honor of DJ Screw and the 20th anniversary of his passing (1971-2000).

>> Read More about DJ Red’s Live Set Here >>
>> Watch DJ Red’s Live Set >>

The 24th

The 24th tells the incredibly powerful and timely true story of the all-black Twenty-Fourth United States Infantry Regiment and the Houston Riot of 1917. The Houston Riot was a mutiny by 156 African American soldiers in response to the brutal violence and abuse at the hands of Houston police officers.

>> Read More about The 24th Here >>
>> Watch The 24th >>

New Order

The latest from Mexican director Michel Franco, set amid both a street protest and a posh wedding, is a timely indictment of class divide and abuse of power. This is the Texas premiere.

>> Read More about New Order Here >>
>> Watch New Order >>


Through shard-like glimpses of everyday life in post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico, Landfall examines a ruined world at the brink of transformation, spinning a cautionary tale for our times.

> Read More about Landfall Here >>
>> Watch Landfall >>

Lourdes Portillo’s Selena Films

Two film by Lourdes Portillo on Selena. This program is co-presented by Aurora Picture Show.

>> Read More about Lourdes Portillo’s Selena Films Here >>
>> Watch Lourdes Portillo’s Selena Films >>

Night of the Kings

Paying homage to the tradition of the griot in West African culture, Night of the Kings is a work of Shakespearean fabulism and gripping, energetic cinema, an altogether original vision from breakout Ivory Coast filmmaker Philippe Lacôte, and the submission from the Ivory Coast for the 2020 Best Foreign Language Oscar. This is the Texas premiere.

>> Read More about Night of the Kings Here >>
>> Watch Night of the Kings >>

Eyimofe (This is My Desire)

Tragedy and fate intervene as two Nigerians in Lagos try to better the lives of their families. Eyimofe (This is My Desire) is a film about two people’s quest for what they believe will be a better life on foreign shores. 

> > Read More about Eimofe Here >>
>>Watch Eymofe >>

Rest in Peace DJ Screw: A Virtual Tribute and Panel Discussion

On the 20th anniversary of DJ Screw’s untimely passing on November 16th, 2000, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival celebrates the life and legacy of H-Town’s own legendary DJ and producer DJ Screw. This program includes select scenes from the scripted visual tribute All Screwed Up which is being released in November. 

>> Read More about Rest in Peace DJ Screw Here >>
>> Watch Rest in Peace DJ Screw >>

Through the Night

Through the Night is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center.

>> Read More about Through the Night Here >> 
>> Watch Through the Night >>

Pier Kids

Pier Kids follows Casper, Desean, and Krystal, three homeless queer black youth as they navigate the streets, welfare, and their biological families in order to find stable housing. Along the way, the film brings light to an underground community of Pier Kids.

>> Read More about Pier Kids Here >>
>> Watch Pier Kids >>

Take Me to the Water

Take Me to the Water is a spiritual moment through performance that pays homage to the sacred rite of passage of being baptized in the Black Church.

>> Read More about Take Me to the Water Here >>
>> Watch Take Me to the Water >>

Remembering the Queen of Tejano Music: Selena Live DJ Set

DJ Gracie Chavez of Bombón DJ Collective performs a FREE live 2 hour set in ode to Selena on Saturday, November 21, 9:30pm available on the virtual platform. In honor of the 25th anniversary of Selena’s tragic murder (1971-1995) and part of the “Urbana” themed programming.

>> Read More about Selena Live DJ Set Here >>
>> Watch Selena Live DJ Set >>