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Houston Cinema Arts Festival

The 2014 Houston Cinema Arts Festival is the sixth annual festival presented by the Houston Cinema Arts Society, and the only U.S. festival devoted to films by and about visual, performing, and literary artists. The first five editions have featured inspiring programs, screenings, performances, installations, and panels, with an extraordinary array of guests each year. The MFAH is proud to again serve as one of the festival’s venues.

This year's opening film is Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream with the director present. Taymor is known for the innovative choreography on Broadway's The Lion King, and for directing the mesmerizing film version of Shakespeare's Titus starring Anthony Hopkins.

Legendary filmmaker James Ivory receives the 2014 Levantine Entertainment Award and screens two Merchant Ivory classic films during the festival.

MFAH Film Committee Founding Chair Lynn Wyatt participates in a conversation following the screening of Dior and I towards the end of the festival.

For the complete schedule of films and to purchase tickets, click here.

Past Films in This Series


Love, Marilyn

Directed by Liz Garbus
In Person: Director Liz Garbus Oscar-nominated director Liz Garbus draws upon never-before-seen personal correspondence, diary entries, and letters to reveal an unknown Marilyn Monroe. The person who emerges, writes Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman, is “not the walking sex bomb, or the dysfunctionally insecure child-woman, either (though she could, on occasions, be both), but a dauntingly complex woman who was far more ambitious than she’s commonly given credit for, who rigorously achieved everything that she did.” Garbus works with acclaimed ... more info

A Suitcase Full of Chocolate

Directed by Lincoln Mayorga
With piano performance by director Lincoln Mayorga When Hitler invaded Austria in 1938, a prize-winning young Jewish pianist was forced to abandon her musical studies in Vienna and return to her home in Latvia. There, she was arrested and sent to a Soviet labor camp, where she endured seven years of hunger and cold. Thirty years in the making, A Suitcase Full of Chocolate recounts the extraordinary story of Sofia Cosma, a brilliant pianist whose career was suppressed by the ... more info

Caesar Must Die

2012, in Italian with English subtitles
Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani
Winner of the Berlin Film Festival Golden Bear, Caesar Must Die is the latest offering from filmmaking brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani. Inventive and beautifully composed, the film centers on a prison production of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Like many films of its kind, Caesar Must Die takes the audience from auditions to rehearsals to the actual performance on stage. What sets the cast of this play apart, however, is that it consists entirely of inmates from Rebibbia Prison in Rome. The ... more info

Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by David O. Russell
Based on Matthew Quick’s novel, Silver Linings Playbook is a smart and hilarious offering from the unconventional and talented David O. Russell, director of Three Kings and The Fighter. In a sincere and nuanced performance, Bradley Cooper is Pat, who suffers a personal and professional meltdown that lands him in a state mental institution for eight months. Released and living back at his parents’ home without a job, wife, or life, he starts over with their help and that of ... more info

A Simple Life

2011, in Chinese with English subtitles
Directed by Ann Hui
In person: Roger Lee, screenwriter and producer A Simple Life, winner of the five top Hong Kong Film Awards (best picture, actor, actress, director, and screenplay), is the latest offering from veteran director Ann Hui. Moving and heartfelt, the film centers on the bond between servant Ah Tao (Deanie Ip), who has served the Leung family for more than 60 years, and film producer Roger (Andy Lau), the only Leung family member still living in Hong Kong. When Ah Tao’s health ... more info

Mugaritz BSO

Directed by Felipe Ugarte and Juantxo Sardón
Mugaritz restaurant in Errenteria, Spain, was voted the fourth best in the world by Restaurant magazine in 2008. Its chef, Andoni Luis Aduriz, has a self-described “techno-emotional” approach to cuisine. For three years, musician Felipe Ugarte studied Aduriz’s culinary formulas. Ugarte transforms his thorough knowledge about the history, technique, philosophy, ingredients, and presentation of each dish into a song that reflects those same aspirations through music. The results are captured in this stunning film exploring the avant-garde in both fields. ... more info

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel

Directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland
Following the sceening, stay for a conversation with the film's director, Lisa Immordino Vreeland, and Lynn Wyatt, founding chair of the MFAH film committee. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel is an intimate portrait and a vibrant celebration of one of the most influential women of the 20th century, an enduring icon whose influence changed the face of fashion, beauty, art, publishing, and culture forever. During Diana Vreeland’s 50-year reign as the “Empress of Fashion,” she launched Twiggy, advised Jackie ... more info

Chasing Shakespeare

Directed by Norry Niven
Presented as part of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival field trip program. Pass holders welcome, but seating not guaranteed. Please contact if you plan to attend. This enchanting love story about a young Native American woman’s search for her destiny, and her widower husband’s attempts to reunite with her after her death, is an emotional and dreamlike experience not to be missed. In flashbacks, Chasing Shakespeare recounts the beginning, end, and rebirth of a love affair between William (Danny Glover) and ... more info

The Yellow Ticket

1918, silent with live musical accompaniment
Directed by Victor Janson, Paul L. Stein, Eugen Illés
Enjoy a live multimedia event! ​Reanimating a silent cinematic classic starring famed Polish actress Pola Negri, The Yellow Ticket  features a new score by violinist Alicia Svigals. Negri embodies a woman’s struggle to overcome adversity in a story of secret identities, heroic measures, and triumphant love. Remarkably progressive for its time, the film explores anti-Semitism, gender bias, and human trafficking in Imperialist Russia. more info
With special guest actor Thomas Haden Church, director Megan Griffiths, and writer/producer Emily Wachtel. We can’t tell you the title of this upcoming release, but we can say it features an inventive and hilarious performance by Thomas Haden Church (Sideways; Broken Trail). Come see this sneak preview in advance of its U.S. premiere and meet Thomas Haden Church, director Megan Griffiths, and writer/producer Emily Wachtel, who will engage in a post-film discussion with Variety and Culturemap film critic Joe Leydon. ... more info

Dazed and Confused

Directed by Richard Linklater
RICHARD LINKLATER RECEIVES LEVANTINE CINEMA ARTS AWARD Award presentation is followed by a 20th-anniversary screening of Dazed and Confused Richard Linklater, born in Houston and raised in Huntsville, has been a supporter of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival since its inception. He attended the festival in 2009 with Me and Orson Welles and brought his friend Ethan Hawke to join him in presenting Tape in 2011. Linklater receives the 2013 Levantine Award amidst a career renaissance with this year's release of one of his ... more info

Houston Ballet: Breaking Boundaries

Directed by John Carrithers
The documentary chronicles the history of the internationally acclaimed Houston Ballet, from the early impact of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in the 1930s and 40s in inculcating a love of dance among Houstonians, to the determination and perseverance of a handful of Houston’s founding families, to the Houston Ballet’s place today as the fourth largest ballet company in America with a facility unmatched in the United States. The documentary captures the voices of many key players who helped ... more info

An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story

Directed by Al Reinert
Truth can be more surreal than fiction, and An Unreal Dream: The Michael Morton Story proves it. Wrongly convicted in 1986 for the brutal murder of his wife, Morton spent 25 years in Texas prisons before Houston attorney John Raley and members of the New York-based The Innocence Project won the right to test DNA evidence found at the murder scene that ultimately exonerated him and identified the real killer. Upon his release in 2011, Morton riveted the world with ... more info
November 12–16, 2014 The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is once again a venue for the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, which marks its sixth anniversary in 2014. Highlights Opening night features the Texas premiere of A Midsummer Night's Dream, followed by a conversation with director Julie Taymor, known for the innovative choreography in Broadway's The Lion King and for directing the films Across the Universe, Frida, The Tempest, and Titus. Legendary filmmaker James Ivory receives the 2014 Levantine Entertainment Award and introduces two classic Merchant ... more info