FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
HOUSTON CINEMA ARTS FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES LIVE MUSIC, FILM PERFORMANCES
CHINESE “LOVE SONGS OF TIEDAN” ENSEMBLE, MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT TO “THE YELLOW TICKET” AMONG LIVE PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHTS AT HCAF 2013
HOUSTON – The 2013 Houston Cinema Arts Festival (HCAF) has announced an exciting slate of live music and film performances, which have become a staple of the festival as it approaches its milestone fifth year. The walkable film festival, which takes place Nov. 6-10 at various major downtown and Museum District venues, annually features films and new media by and about artists in the visual, performing and literary arts.
The live programming slate for HCAF 2013, appropriately eclectic for a film festival in one of the world’s most diverse major cities, is highlighted by a live musical accompaniment of the 1918 German silent film classic The Yellow Ticket, a live performance by the leading actor of the Chinese musical The Love Songs of Tiedan, live music and animation from San Francisco artist Jeremy Rourke, and a live acoustic set by two members of The Gourds to accompany All the Labor, a film documenting the story of the popular independent Austin band.
“Live music and film performances have always been a big part of what makes our film festival unique,” HCAF Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz said. “The variety of performers this year – from a klezmer fiddler to a Chinese folk singer, a singing animator and members of the legendary Austin band the Gourds – is undoubtedly our most diverse ever.”
The Yellow Ticket (1918, 50 min.) will be shown with live musical accompaniment by world-class violinist Alicia Svigals and jazz pianist virtuoso Marilyn Lerner on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 PM at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) Brown Auditorium. The film will be co-presented by the The Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair, the Houston Cinema Arts Society and MFAH.
Svigals, one of the world’s premier klezmer violinists and a founder of the Grammy-winning Klezmatics, crafted a lush score for the film inspired by Klezmer and other Eastern European folk traditions, 20th-century classical composers such as Béla Bartók and Ernest Bloch, European café music and contemporary improvisation. She performs it live with Lerner, reanimating a silent cinematic classic starring famed Polish actress Pola Negri. Remarkably progressive for its time, the film explores anti-Semitism, gender bias and human trafficking in Imperialist Russia.
The Yellow Ticket production was commissioned by the Foundation for Jewish Culture’s New Jewish Culture Network, a league of North American performing arts presenters committed to the creation and touring of innovative projects. It debuted at the Washington Jewish Music Festival presented by the Washington DC Jewish Community Center in May 2012 through a commission made possible by the Arthur Tracy “The Street Singer” Endowment Fund. Svigals also will participate in a Meet The Makers: Scoring for Silent Films discussion on Friday, Nov. 8, at 1:00 PM at the Festival Headquarters at 1201 Main St. (Main @ Polk) downtown.
The Love Songs of Tiedan (2012, 91 min.) with guest Chinese director Hao Jie, actresses Ge Xia and Yelan Jiang, and actor Feng Si will screen Saturday, Nov. 9, at 7:00 PM at the Asia Society Texas Center. Feng Si, who plays the lead role of Tiedan, will provide a solo performance of several Chinese folk songs at the conclusion of the program, and join the guest director and actresses for a live Q&A.
In his film, Hao Jie delights with a lively musical comedy about a young man’s romantic obsession spanning several decades. The Love Songs of Tiedan is a larkish tribute to the er ren tai form of bawdy folk singing practiced for centuries in Hao Jie’s home in the northwestern mountainous region of China, where the film was shot in a village using mostly native nonprofessionals as actors.
Hao’s debut film, Single Man (2010, 94 min.), earned him an international reputation as one of China’s most exciting new independent directors. But The Love Songs of Tiedan, according to critic Berenice Reynaud, draws from a broader “range of cinematic and visual styles from ethnomusicology to musical to comedy to expressionism.” Hao, a graduate of Beijing Film Academy’s Directorial Department, also pushes the envelope of romantic longing and obsession much further than in his previous work.
Also showing on Saturday, Nov. 9, at 8:15 PM at the Festival Headquarters will be live music and animation by Jeremy Rourke, a self-taught animator and musician living in San Francisco. Using paper, paint, shadows, wood, old photographs, new photographs, flowers, tape, pens, pencils, leaves and sticks to make his animations, Rourke’s works (which are set to his own music) have been shown at film festivals around the country.
In 2011, Rourke was named “best new animator/musician” by SF Weekly, which wrote: “Jeremy Rourke is the kind of artist we love. He follows what inspires him, which in this case is stop-motion animation and music, teaching himself what he needs to get there and along the way producing great work that inspires others. One of his movies, Out to See, places cutouts of assorted figures (a man in an overcoat, a ship, a truck, owls, old-timey bicyclists, fish) in modern-day San Francisco. The song is a mixture of up-tempo and melancholy; Rourke reflects this dichotomy in his images by placing emotive characters into ever-changing scenery that is always surprising, yet (despite its fast pace) never feels hurried. Did we mention he writes and performs the music, too?”
All The Labor with guest director Doug Hawes-Davis and an acoustic set by The Hard Pans (Jimmy Smith and Claude Bernard of The Gourds) will screen on Friday, Nov. 8, at 9:30 PM at Sundance Cinemas downtown. In the film, veteran documentarian Hawes-Davis and his team introduce viewers to The Gourds, the Austin-based alt indie roots band that has been making music for two decades. Piling themselves and their equipment into their road-weary tour van, the five now-middle-aged guys hit the highways from coast to coast to coast, relentlessly playing 150 gigs a year.
Shot over the course of eight months and featuring archival footage captured nearly 20 years earlier, All The Labor premiered at Austin’s SXSW Film Festival in March 2013. It shows the energy and excitement of the band’s live performances while painting an intimate portrait of talented songwriters and musicians at the top of their game. Comprised of candid conversations, blazing concert scenes, on-tour media interviews and insight from friends and family, the film captures the unbreakable backbeat and creative spark of the group dubbed by The New York Times as “the national band of Austin.”
“Great acts don’t always get the credit they deserve,” writes music journalist Kathy McConnell at concertblogger.com. “Breaking the typical music documentary mold of an artist’s quick rise to fame and the destruction that then ensues, All the Labor presents the audience with the deeper discovery of a band’s genuine relationship with their music. Rather than capitalizing through their music, The Gourds live through their music, and the audience won’t be able to leave this film without a sincere respect for that.”
Additional live performances will be announced on Oct. 15 with the complete festival program at the HCAF 2013 Launch Party at The Sam Hotel.
ABOUT THE HOUSTON CINEMA ARTS SOCIETY
Houston Cinema Arts Society is a non-profit organization created in 2008 with the support of former Houston Mayor Bill White and the leadership of Franci Crane. HCAS organizes and hosts the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, a groundbreaking and innovative arts festival featuring films and new media by and about artists in the visual, performing and literary arts. The festival celebrates the vitality and diversity of the arts in Houston and enriches the city’s film and arts community. HCAS sponsors include the Crane Foundation, a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Levantine Entertainment, Houston First Corporation, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Champion Energy Services, Amegy Bank of Texas, The Brown Foundation, Inc. and others. The project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. The 2013 Houston Cinema Arts Festival was held Nov. 6-10. For more information, please visit HCAS at www.cinemartsociety.org.