FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THREE INFLUENTIAL INTERNATIONAL DIRECTORS TO ATTEND FESTIVAL
HOUSTON – Cinema Arts Festival Houston will screen a 3D dance film by a great German director as part of its 2011 selections during the November 9-13 festival. Made by Wim Wenders, the famed director of Houston-filmed Paris, Texas, PINA is part of an expanded lineup of international films. The festival is also bringing three major international directors to present works in the festival—Patricio Guzmán (Chile), Zhu Wen (China), and Mahmoud Kaabour (Lebanon).
PINA is a sensual, visually stunning journey of discovery into a new dimension: straight onto the stage with the legendary Tanz theater Wuppertal Pina Bausch ensemble. It features the unique and inspiring art of the great German choreographer Pina Bausch, who passed away in the summer of 2009.
“PINA is such a beautiful and moving film, and a wonderful testament to this great artist,” said Richard Herskowitz, artistic director. “We are excited to have PINA as our first ever 3D showing, because Wim Wenders utilizes 3D to such powerful effect, transporting the audience into Pina Bauschʼs world.”
PINA includes – in addition to excerpts from the four productions of “Café Müller”, “Le Sacre duprintemps”, “Vollmond” and “Kontakthof” – carefully selected archival footage of the legendary choreographer at work, innovatively inserted in the 3D world of the film as a third element, with many imaginative, short solo performances by the dancers of the ensemble. To achieve this, Wenders used Bausch’s own method of “questioning,” with which the choreographer developed her productions. She posed questions and her dancers answered not in words, but with improvised dance and body language. Wenders turned to this method when he invited the dancers to express their memories of Bausch in individual solo performances, filming these innumerous locations in and around Wuppertal.
The festival is also bringing three international filmmakers who will, thanks to the miracle of air travel, appear in live, physical “3D” before and after their screenings. The festival, in collaboration with Rice Cinema, is honored to bring to Houston the great Chilean director Patricio Guzmán. Guzmán is coming to the festival to launch a five-part retrospective highlighting the wide-ranging intellectual explorations of his work, called Patricio Guzmánʼs Universe: Reflections on Art, Science, Religion and History. Guzman will engage in dialogues with scholars in literature, religion, and astronomy during the series first three screenings as part of the Cinema Arts Festival Houston on Nov. 10, 11, and 12. The retrospective will continue at the Rice Cinema Nov. 18 and 19. The schedule is as follows:
November 10: The Southern Cross
November1 1: Robinson Crusoe Island and My Jules Verne
November 12: Nostalgia for the Light
November 18: A Village Fading Away and Madrid
November 19: Chile, the Obstinate Memory
Guzmán is best known for his politically engaged documentaries on the Allende era in Chile. Over the past forty years, he has catalogued, with great passion and artistry, the cataclysmic effects of the Pinochet coup that overthrew the democratically elected Socialist president Salvador Allende. Guzmán began his career in 1971, documenting Allendeʼs sweeping social reforms, but was forced to leave Chile for Europe where he completed The Battle of Chile, Parts 1-3 (1975-1979), considered by many a documentary masterpiece. Guzmán has returned to the events of 1973 and their aftermath several times throughout his career while also expanding his field of inquiry to explore the very natures of cinema, history and memory.
Guzmánʼs latest masterwork, Nostalgia for the Light, invokes astronomy, archeology, and history while examining the motives of people drawn to Chileʼs Atacama Desert, and has drawn cinephilesʼ attention to the broad range of Guzmánʼs intellectual explorations. The festivalʼs retrospective highlights Guzmánʼs expansive interests. For example, The Southern Cross explores the encounter of indigenous and western religions in Latin America, while My Jules Verne and Robinson Crusoe Island spring from Guzmánʼs childhood fascination with literary adventures.
Besides Guzmán, Zhu Wen and Mahmoud Kaabour also will attend the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston. Wen, a native of the Fujian Province in China, is an accomplished screenwriter and director who made his directorial debut with Seafood, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Venice Film Festival. His second film, South of the Clouds, was awarded the NETPAC Prize at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival. Wen is also a well-known writer in China, a leader of the rebellious “Rupture” (Duanlie) writersʼ movement whose short story collection, I Love Dollars, was translated and published in the U.S. by Columbia University Press in 2007.
Wenʼs culture-clash, pseudo science-fiction comedy, Thomas Mao, will be featured at the festival on Saturday, Nov. 12 at Edwards Cinema. This playful narrative features “Thomas,” a European artist, played by an art curator from Luxembourg, and “Mao,” a Chinese farmer, played by famous artist Mao Yan. Through their close, often contentious relationship, Wen explores themes of friendship, artistic integrity, tradition vs. modernity and the mysterious balance between dueling realities.
Mahmoud Kaabourʼs Grandma, A Thousand Times is a poignant, magical realist documentary that depicts an amazing old woman – the widow of A Lebanese violinist – filmed by a talented grandson who evokes for her the presence of her late husband. The movie follows the 83-year old matriarch of the Kaabour family – the sharp-witted queen bee of an old Beiruti quarter. It documents her larger-than-life character as she struggles to cope with the silence of her once-buzzing house and imagines what awaits her beyond death. Meanwhile, her beloved violinist husband, who has been deceased for 20 years, is both an essential absence and presence. His features manifest through the face of their filmmaker grandson while his previously unpublished violin improvisations weave through her world and that of the film.
Kaabour, jointly hosted by the festival and Levantine Entertainment, will accompany the film on Friday, Nov. 11. An award-winning filmmaker and writer from Beirut, Lebanon, Kaabourʼs first documentary Being Osama was labeled the quintessential film about the Arab Diaspora, receiving four international awards to date and playing on 12 international channels. Grandma, A Thousand Times won the Audience Choice award and a Special Jury prize at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival 2010.
Other confirmed works from around the globe at 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston include the following:
Following their emotional exile from Cuba in 1965, three architects return forty years later to finish what was considered the world’s most spectacular and futuristic art school, which was left to ruin by the country’s Revolution. The documentary features intimate footage of Fidel Castro, showing his devotion to creating a worldwide showcase for art, and it also documents the struggle and passion of three revolutionary artists. Unfinished Spaces, which premiered at the 2011 Los Angeles Film Festival, is directed by Alysa Nahmias and Benjamin Murray, and will be accompanied at the festival by Murray.
Flowers of Evil
In this timely feature debut from France, filmmaker David Dusa introduces us to the apolitical Gecko, a talented French-Algerian parkour dancer promoting himself via YouTube, and Anahita, an exiled Iranian girl who is so obsessed with staying on top of the protests in her homeland via the web that it threatens her fledgling relationship. Set in Paris, the movie also follows the doughs passionate and rootless love affair grounded in small acts of protest.
Free Radicals: A History of Experimental Film
In this personal documentary essay, France-based/American born director Pip Chodorov, who will visit Houston for this screening, examines the lives and work of such experimental luminaries as Hans Richter, Michael Snow, Peter Kubelka, Stan Brakhage and the godfather of the New American Cinema, Jonas Mekas. Chodorovʼs film is a tribute to these influential yet struggling artists, many of whom are longtime friends, who created this often misunderstood area of non-commercial filmmaking. For those unfamiliar with names like Mekas and Brakhage,the documentary provides an excellent introduction.
As previously announced, the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston also will feature many live musical and artistic performances, ranging from virtuoso violinist Philippe Quint to multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek. Further, the closing night film is the world premiere of Art Car: The Movie (2011) on Sunday, Nov. 13 at Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park.
The 2011 festival is scheduled to take place in Houston from Nov. 9 to 13. Cinema Arts Festival Houston capitalizes on the cityʼs status as an international art city, collaborating with many of Houston’s museums, art centers, theaters, and cultural institutions. Works are shown not only in traditional theatrical venues but also via interactive video installations, live music and film performances, and outdoor projections. Past festivals have featured guests Isabella Rossellini, Tilda Swinton, John Turturro, Richard Linklater, Alex Gibney, and Shirley MacLaine. The 2010 festival drew thousands of film enthusiasts and art lovers spread among over 40 screenings and events.
In addition to the films and international guests announced here, the festival will announce its exciting roster of premieres as well as talent in the coming weeks, culminating with an unveiling of the complete program, including major new releases and special guests, on Oct. 18. The full schedule and tickets to the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston will be available on the HCAS website at http://cinemartsociety.org on Oct. 18 as well.
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.