Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) is dedicated to presenting innovative films, media installations, multimedia performances, and educational initiatives that celebrate the artistic process and enrich Houston’s culture and urban vitality.
We Encourage and Foster:
- Appreciation of the creative process
- Collaboration across arts disciplines, organizations, and communities
- Cross-cultural understanding
- Transformative cinematic experiences
- Local economic development through the arts and film
- Cinematic education that will inspire the next generation of artists and audiences
Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) promotes the cinematic arts to a diverse audience through innovative and interactive film screenings, media installations, multimedia performances, and educational initiatives. HCAS flagship programs include the Houston Cinema Arts Festival held annually in November, the Cinespace short film competition (a collaboration with NASA challenging filmmakers to create films from the NASA archives), and the Black Media Story Summit (a collaboration with Black Public Media, the Austin Film Society, and the Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation). HCAS year-round programming is currently focused on its Virtual Cinema series in response to the COVID crisis. HCAS Virtual Cinema highlights the work of local and international artists and filmmakers and allows film lovers direct access to these creatives through live virtual Q&A and performance sessions. HCAS is dedicated to serving Houston filmmakers and film lovers and engaging in meaningful partnerships with creative individuals and organizations at the intersection of cinema with the visual arts, music, theatre, literature, dance, culture, science, and the humanities.
HCAS was conceived in 2007 when former Mayor Bill White created a task force of cultural leaders spearheaded by arts philanthropist Franci Neely to stimulate film culture in Houston. The task force recommended that Houston sponsor cinematic programming that celebrates the visual, performing, and literary arts. This unique focus on films by and about artists accomplished two goals: it filled an under-represented niche in the broader film festival world and further solidified Houston’s identity as a thriving city for the arts. HCAS received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in September 2008 and launched its first large-scale film festival in November 2009.
The most ambitious of the HCAS programs, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, is a five-day multi-venue festival that includes over 50 narrative, documentary, and experimental films; innovative video and media installations; live multi-media performances; panel discussions; Meet the Makers workshops; and free student field trip screenings. HCAS has brought notable guest artists, such as Tilda Swinton, Isabella Rossellini, Guillermo Arriaga, John Turturro, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford, and James Ivory, to the Festival in addition to many Texas talents.
Inaugurated at the 2015 Houston Cinema Arts Festival, CineSpace is a short film competition and collaboration with NASA challenging filmmakers around the world to create short films inspired by and using NASA archival footage exploring 50 years of public historical archives. Films are judged based on the creativity, innovation, and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of space exploration, and the final winning films are chosen by Director Richard Linklater. Finalists films are screened at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, and $26,000 in awards are distributed to the winning filmmakers.
HCAS’s first Black Media Story summit was held at the 2019 Houston Cinema Arts Festival at the historic Deluxe Theater in the 5th Ward. Created in partnership with national film funder Black Public Media, Austin Film Society, and Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, this free all-day conference is attended by diverse filmmakers and stakeholders from Houston, Dallas, and Austin. Black Public Media has worked with partners all over the country on these regional summits with the goal of gathering information about the needs of regional black filmmakers to share with national funders and field building between filmmakers and funders and filmmakers with each other.
HCAS proudly collaborates with numerous Houston and Texas-based arts, cultural, nonprofit, educational, and civic organizations including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Aurora Picture Show, Houston Public Media, Houston Ballet, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Houston Museum of African American Culture, Architecture Center Houston, Asia Society Texas Center, Rice University, University of Houston, HAAPI Film Festival, the Houston Latino Film Festival, QFest, the Austin Film Society, The Catastrophic Theatre, the Deluxe Theater, SWAMP, Texas Film Commission, NASA, Discovery Green, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, and Black Public Media.