Why the Houston Cinema Arts Society Is So Dear to My Heart

It seems like just yesterday when former Mayor Bill White asked me to put together a task force to boost the film industry in Houston. We officially formed the Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) in 2008 to meet that need.

HCAS does an outstanding job of celebrating film in one of the nation’s most diverse and interesting cities. In addition to year-round programming that nurtures Houston’s growing film community, our annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival has become internationally recognized. Last year, MovieMaker magazine recognized our Festival as one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World” — and I couldn’t agree more.

Some extraordinary events we host during the Festival each year include a “Meet the Makers Brunch” and free student field trip screenings. HCAS has brought notable guest artists, such as Isabella Rossellini, Tilda Swinton, Shirley MacLaine, Amber Tamblyn, Kimberly Rivers Roberts, Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Robert Redford, and many others. The festival has also featured groundbreaking content celebrating diversity. HCAS’s first Black Media Story Summit was held at the 2019 Houston Cinema Arts Festival, and HCAS launched a new regional short film competition in 2020 called Borders | No Borders.

Houston is on the film industry’s radar now, with more content being shot in our area. This trend is only going to grow, and I couldn’t be more delighted about it. It’s about time that the entire world sees the opportunities that Houston offers, and the arts are at the forefront of that recognition. Film is the most inclusive of all art forms, and I particularly enjoy that the Houston Cinema Arts Festival programs screenings and events that support and nurture Houston’s entire arts community.

The 14th Annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival is slated to take place Nov. 10–17. This year, we have an exceptional lineup of films, including a 25th anniversary screening of Selena, starring Jennifer Lopez; Alamo Bay, which is about a Vietnam veteran in danger of losing his livelihood; Friday I’m in Love, a documentary about Numbers nightclub, which has been home to the underground and LGBTQ communities in Houston; and many more. The screening of Friday I’m in Love will be followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker. And that’s one of the things that makes the Houston Cinema Arts Festival so immersive and unique: It’s more than just screenings — it’s a full and total homage to the arts.

Since retiring from my career as an attorney, devoting much of my time to traveling and supporting the arts has been a mission of mine. I look forward to the Houston Cinema Arts Festival each year, and I very much appreciate the marvelous team of people who really make this festival come together.

The festival is gaining momentum globally. Every year, it gets bigger. There is nothing better than being inspired by a new film — especially one that might’ve never been showcased if not for the Houston Cinema Arts Festival. It’s an opportunity to introduce future generations to the magic of film and all the wonderful arts and culture coming out of Houston. For those who can’t attend the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in person, we offer virtual options to take part in the festival. There’s something for everyone — and that inclusivity makes all the difference.

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