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The Third Coast

Sometimes referred to as Hurricane Alley, The Third Coast is an idea that informs much of the festival this year. A liminal region in so many ways, most notably situated somewhere in between the first and second coasts — the peoples, cultures, art, music, film, foods, threats and opportunities of The Third Coast are epic and unique.

From stories about the region like Red Rocket and Bushwick Bill: Geto Boy, to those in conversation with one of the most culturally and environmentally diverse regions on the planet like Luchadoras, North By Current, and Whether the Weather is Fine, HCAF 2021 celebrates The Third Coast in all its fullness and complexity.

The festival will also have a resident DJ, Flash Gordon Parks, providing the pre-show mixtape alongside performances at the Opening Night Party, The Last Tree, and Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song.

Red Rocket

The audacious new film from writer-director Sean Baker (The Florida Project, Tangerine), starring Simon Rex in a magnetic, live-wire performance, Red Rocket is a darkly funny, raw, and humane portrait of a uniquely American hustler and a hometown that barely tolerates him.

>> Read More About Red Rocket >>


Luchadoras portrays the courageous female wrestlers of Cuidad Juárez – who in the ring and in their daily lives fight to redefine the image of what it means to be a woman in Mexico.

>> Read More About Luchadoras >>

Bushwick Bill: Geto Boy

Censorship couldn’t silence him. Size couldn’t limit him. A bullet couldn’t slow him down. A raw cinematic ride into the mind of Bushwick Bill (born Richard Shaw) legendary Gangsta Rapper and original member of The Geto Boys – godfathers of Southern Hip Hop. 

>> Read More About Bushwick Bill: Geto Boy >>

North By Current

Filmmaker Angelo Madsen Minax returns to his hometown after the mysterious death of his 2-year-old niece and confronts long-buried family traumas.

>> Read More About North By Current >>

Again, Together – The Cumulative Impact of Environmental Racism in Houston

Environmental justice and race are inextricable, particularly given the history of our city, state, and country. The goal of this film is to illuminate and activate people around this history so we can build a better present and future for communities that have for far too long borne the brunt of the compounding impacts from systemic racism like redlining, which has exacerbated disasters like COVID, Hurricane Harvey, climate change, and though not documented in the film, Texas’ most recent devastating winter storm.

>> Read More About Again, Together >>


In Disney/Pixar’s vibrant tale of family, fun and adventure, aspiring young musician named Miguel embarks on an extraordinary journey to the magical land of his ancestors. 

>> Read More About Coco >>

The Third Coast (40th Anniversary)

Directed by Susan and Alan Raymond, this 1979 documentary seeks to capture the evolving character of Houston. The film pays special attention to the city’s rapid expansion—investigating not only what attracts so many people to the Bayou City but also its ongoing drawbacks, from a struggling mass transit system to alarming statistics about the use of deadly force by Houston police officers. 

>> Read More About The Third Coast >>

Music of the South

The exhibition includes a portrait of Lyle Lovett for MET magazine in 1990 and one of the first official portraits of the group Destiny’s Child from 2000. In the 1990s, Francis photographed the Tejano supergroup La Mafia, Los Palomino, Emilio Navarro, and Selena, “The Queen of Tejano.” Francis also photographed country music legends Patty Loveless, Hank Williams, Jr., Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, George Strait, and Randy Travis.

>> Read More About Music of the South >>

Third Coast (And Other Shores)

A survey of some recent experimental short films, Third Coast (and Other Shores) presents the latest works by film artists based in Houston and around the world. All of the works are united by a concern with place, landscape, and the interconnections between the local and the global. The program will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Cuyler Ballenger, Jonathan Caouette, W. MacLean, and Abinadi Meza, moderated by Guest Curator Michael Sicinski.

>> Read More About Third Coast (And Other Shores) >>


In early 20th century, Liborio, a peasant, disappears in a hurricane and returns as a prophet. He says he’s been given a mission: to bring the good and take away the evil, curing the sick and teaching by example.

>> Read More About Liborio >>

Films of PJ Raval

As part of 2021 Texas Biennial: A New Landscape/A Possible Horizon, Austin Based award-winning filmmaker PJ Raval presents a selection of film highlights from his career. The program includes a conversation with PJ Raval alongside clips from definitive film work including his groundbreaking and visionary upcoming project. Growing up as a queer, first-generation Filipino American in a small, white, conservative town in California’s central valley, PJ’s outsider experience greatly shaped his filmmaking practice. PJ’s work examines social justice issues through the voices of queer and marginalized subjects.

>> Read More About Film of PJ Raval>>

Acid Test

Set in 1992, Acid Test is a coming-of-age rebellion story fueled by Riot Grrrl music, a dysfunctional family, and LSD. 

>> Read More About Acid Test >>

Borders No Borders Narrative Shorts

This year’s Borders | No Borders Narrative Shorts Program highlights periods of transition, whether that marks a character embracing new aspects of their biculturalism, betrayed friendships, or journeying beyond the planet.

>> Read More About Borders No Borders Narrative Shorts >>

The Last Tree

Directed by Shola Amoo, The Last Tree is the semi-autobiographical story of Femi, a British boy of Nigerian heritage who, after being fostered in rural Lincolnshire, moves to inner-city London to live with his birth mother. In his teens, Femi is struggling with the culture and values of his new environment. Femi must decide which path to adulthood he wants to take, and what it means to be a young black man in London during the early 00s.

>> Read More About The Last Tree >>

Whether the Weather is Fine

Devastated after the impact of Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, the Filipino coastal city of Tacloban is largely reduced to rubble. Among those left standing in its wake are Miguel (Daniel Padilla), his mother (Charo Santos), and his friend Andrea (Rans Rifol). Food is in short supply. Rescue centres are overflowing with the injured. Everything is thrown into disarray and confusion.

>> Read More About Whether the Weather is Fine >>

Borders No Borders Documentary Shorts

This year’s Borders | No Borders Documentary Shorts examine communities trapped in liminal spaces, including those lost while crossing borders, communities abandoned during the pandemic, or those harmed by improper toxic waste disposal. Some offer glimpses of lives stalled while others offer new moments of healing, with ritual and speculative fiction to imagine new futures.

>> Read More About Borders No Borders Documentary Shorts >>

CineSpace 2021

CineSpace 2021 marks the seventh anniversary of the collaborative film competition between Houston Cinema Arts Society and NASA, where the finalists screen for a public audience. The  screening features the announcement of the three top prize winners selected by Academy Award © nominated director Richard Linklater. NASA will also award two special prizes in the following categories: “Best Educational Film on Space and Science” and “Film that best depicts unity and inclusion in science”. Entries are competing for a total of $26,000 in cash prizes.

>> Read More About CineSpace 2021 >>

Bushwick Bill: Geto Boy Encore

Censorship couldn’t silence him. Size couldn’t limit him. A bullet couldn’t slow him down. A raw cinematic ride into the mind of Bushwick Bill (born Richard Shaw) legendary Gangsta Rapper and original member of The Geto Boys – godfathers of Southern Hip Hop. The film chronicles Bill’s improbable journey from immigrant to icon and sheds new light on the infamous shooting that nearly took his life.

>> Read More About Bushwick Bill Encore >>