Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) celebrates and illuminates the vitality of one of America’s most diverse cities by connecting audiences and artists with public, educational, and career-advancing film and arts programming.
Houston Cinema Arts Society envisions a future where filmmaking, production, and public programming thrive and grow, in step with the city’s ever evolving fine arts and media sector. In turn, by fostering global filmmakers and promoting a flowering of locally based film, television and media production, HCAS helps realize and celebrate our city’s diversity and cultural riches.
Who We Are
HCAS engages, enriches, and empowers Houston’s diverse cultures and communities by programming and supporting filmmaking and the arts year round. Our local-meets-global approach celebrates connectivity in all art forms, empowering and supporting regional and underrepresented filmmakers. We are a comprehensive and collaborative non-profit organization that produces an annual, internationally recognized film festival, provides filmmaker support and education, and forges connections between the moving image and other arts.
HCAS flagship programs include the Houston Cinema Arts Festival held annually in November, CineSpace and Borders | No Borders short film competitions, and the Black Media Story Summit. CineSpace is a collaboration with NASA challenging filmmakers to create films from the NASA archives. Borders | No Borders is open to short narrative and documentary films with strong ties to Texas, the states bordering Texas, and Mexico. The Black Media Story Summit is an all day free conference in 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, 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 Guillermo Arriaga, Euzhan Palcy, Tilda Swinton, Shirley MacLaine, Patricio Guzmán, Isabella Rossellini, The Kronos Quartet, Trey Edward Shults, Tracy Letts, John Turturro, Amber Tamblyn, Kimberly Rivers-Roberts, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Clement Mensah, Arthur Jafa, Robert Redford, Joseph Khan, James Ivory, Julie Taymor, Akosua Adoma Owusu, and Adele Pham to the Festival in addition to many Texas talents like Ja-Tovia Gary, Patrick Wang, Ivette Lucas and Patrick Bresnan, Lisa E. Harris, Ben DeSoto, and DJ Flash Gordon Parks.
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 goals 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 launched a new regional short film competition in 2020. Borders | No Borders is open to short narrative and documentary films with strong ties to Texas, the states bordering Texas, and Mexico. The competition opened on June 11th with a regular deadline of August 1st and a late deadline of August 21th 2020. Finalist films will be announced with the Houston Cinema Arts Festival 2020 lineup in mid-October and will be screened at the festival.
HCAS proudly collaborates with numerous Houston-based, Texas-based, and national arts, cultural, nonprofit, educational, and civic organizations including NASA, Museum of Fine Arts Houston, Houston Museum of African American Culture, The Ensemble Theatre, Aurora Picture Show, Houston Public Media, Houston Ballet, DeLuxe Theater, Houston Latino Film Festival, QFest, IPIC, Houston Museum of Natural Science, Catastrophic Theater Company, the Station Museum, the Architecture Center Houston, Asia Society Texas Center, Diverse Works, The Moody Center for the Arts, Rice Media Center, University of Houston, HAAPI Film Festival, SWAMP, Discovery Green, Fifth Ward Community Redevelopment Corporation, The Menil Collection, DaCamera Chamber Music and Jazz, Project Row Houses, Texas Film Commission, the Austin Film Society, PSA, the Texas Theatre, Violet Crown Cinemas, and Black Public Media.