Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) is dedicated to presenting innovative films, media installations, and performances that celebrate the artistic process and enrich Houston’s culture and urban vitality.
Year-around programming, including the Houston Cinema Arts Festival (HCAF), demonstrates its commitment to the appreciation of the creative process; cross-cultural understanding; collaboration across arts disciplines, organizations and communities; transformative cinematic experiences; local economic growth through the arts; and, arts education to inspire next generation artists and audiences.
In 2007, then-Mayor Bill White asked arts philanthropist Franci Neely to head a task force of cultural leaders to stimulate film culture in Houston. They recommended that Houston sponsor cinematic programming that celebrates the visual, performing, and literary arts; thus the Houston Cinema Arts Society came into being. 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 identified Houston, nationally and internationally, as a thriving arts city.
HCAS received 501(c)(3) nonprofit status in September 2008 and presented a weekend Film Festival at Rice University and the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. Its first five-day Film Festival was launched in November 2009. In addition to the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, HCAS provides a variety of annual initiatives and programs, including screening events for adults and youth, performances, and guest lectures.
The most ambitious of the HCAS programs, Houston Cinema Arts Festival, is a five-day multi-venue festival that includes over 50 narrative, documentary, and experimental films, an interactive video installation gallery, 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, in addition to many Texas talents, to the Festival.
Inaugurated at the 2015 Festival, CineSpace, a collaboration between NASA and HCAS, is a competition offering filmmakers around the world a chance to share their short films inspired by and using actual NASA footage from 50 years of historical archives. Judged on the creativity, innovation, and attention to detail that are the hallmarks of space exploration, CineSpace remains an integral part of the Festival.
HCAS proudly collaborates on many of its programs with numerous Houston arts, cultural, and other nonprofit organizations, such as 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, and others. Current initiatives include educational outreach screenings at high schools, internship programs with area colleges and universities, and CineBrew screenings at local breweries for adults, JULYDOSCOPE outdoor performances and films for families at Discovery Green, among others.