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Houston Cinema Arts Festival

The 2015 Houston Cinema Arts Festival is the seventh 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.

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

Janis: Little Girl Blue

Directed by Amy Berg
With director Amy Berg and moderator Bun B With Janis: Little Girl Blue, Oscar-nominated director Amy Berg (Deliver Us from Evil, West of Memphis) examines singer Janis Joplin’s story for the first time on film, presenting an intimate and insightful portrait of a complicated, driven, often beleaguered artist. With massive hits including “Me and Bobby McGee” and “Piece of My Heart,” and such classic albums as Cheap Thrills and Pearl, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Joplin was one of ... more info

Landfill Harmonic

Directed by Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley
Free screening! All seats first come, first served. Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical youth group who live next to one of South America's largest landfills. This unlikely orchestra plays music using instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. more info
This is a free screening.  All seats are first come first serve. With producers Jonathan Woods and Jeffrey Kluger Astronaut Scott Kelly is more than half way through a record-setting one-year stay aboard the International Space Station—part of an ambitious experiment to determine if humanity’s grand dreams of traveling to Mars can ever be achieved. TIME’s A Year in Space project accompanies Kelly for his entire ride, releasing ten web episodes about his journey. With unprecedented access, we will follow ... more info

Apollo 13

Directed by Ron Howard
With screenwriters William Broyles Jr. and Al Reinert and author Jeffrey Kluger Apollo 13 details the unbelievable true story of the aborted 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission. While en route to complete America’s third Moon landing, an on-board explosion effectively wiped out the oxygen supply and electrical power. NASA flight controllers were forced to abort the mission and figure out how to get three astronauts, Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise home safely. Purchase tickets here. more info

CineSpace: The Screening and Awards Presentation

2015, in various languages
Directed by Various directors
Awards presentation and screening with astronaut Don Pettit and other guests The 16 short film finalists of the first annual CineSpace competition, a collaborative project of Houston Cinema Arts Society and NASA, will be screened tonight, supplemented by the announcement of the three top winners selected by filmmaker Richard Linklater. Entries are competing for a total of $26,000 in prizes. Films containing NASA-captured imagery collected throughout the agency’s 50-year history were judged on creativity, innovation, and attention to detail – ... more info

Satellite Beach

Directed by Luke Wilson and Andrew Wilson
With Luke Wilson and Andrew Wilson Satellite Beach follows the unique journey of the Endeavour space shuttle as it travels through the streets of Los Angeles to the California Science Center, and the final move of the Atlantis space shuttle to the Kennedy Space Center. Warren Flowers (Luke Wilson), a devoted and unlikely shuttle manager, navigates the missions on his own accord, while the citizens, reporters, and officials are perplexed by his involvement. Satellite Beach won Best Live Action Short ... more info

House Party

Directed by Reginald Hudlin
With Kid 'n Play Kid 'n Play defined a generation of teenage schemers and style icons. In this classic 1990s teen film, Play (Christopher Martin) is planning the house party to end all house parties while his parents are out of town. Play's best friend, Kid (Christopher Reid), wants to go more than anything, knowing that Sydney, the hottest girl in school, is sure to be there. So when Kid is grounded after getting into a fight at school, he ... more info


Directed by Trey Edward Shults
With Trey Edward Shults, Krisha Fairchild, and others Following a prolonged battle with addiction and self-destruction, Krisha returns for a Thanksgiving visit to the family she abandoned. Eager at first to fit in, Krisha throws herself into atoning for her past. However, what begins as a moving testament to the family’s capacity to forgive soon spirals into a deluge of emotional bloodletting, as old wounds are torn open, and resentments are laid bare. A Houston native, Shults began his career ... more info

Paul Taylor: Creative Domain

Directed by Kate Geis
Among the most acclaimed choreographers in American history, Paul Taylor has been reinventing the roles of music, movement, and theme in dance for nearly 60 years. In that time, he has offered only glimpses into his creative process. Kate Geis’ brilliant portrait is a rare in-depth documentation of how he creates a single dance. Through the lens of the award-winning cinematographer Tom Hurwitz, we see Paul’s non-verbal communication with his dancers. Geis begins with Taylor dancing in his youth, describing ... more info

The Jones Family Will Make a Way

Directed by Alan Berg, Lauren Sanders, and Jason Wehling
With filmmaker Alan Berg and a post-screening performance by the Jones Family Singers For 30 years, Bishop Fred Jones and his family—formerly Austin-based, now Houston-based—have performed on the Southern gospel circuit, largely unseen by those outside the Pentecostal faith. When the bishop, despite objections from many within his faith, decides to take his family’s musical ministry outside the church, he unexpectedly connects with Michael Corcoran, a jaded, atheistic rock critic who also happens to be a gospel historian. To Corcoran, ... more info

I Dream Too Much

Directed by Katie Cokinos
With director Katie Cokinos and producer Richard Linklater After speeding through college, Dora finds herself back at home, unemployed, and scheming to travel abroad with a friend. When financial reality and her distressingly practical mother keep Dora grounded in frigid New Jersey, her only option is to take the Law School Aptitude Test and resign herself to several more years of mind-numbing studies. Opportunity knocks when Dora’s great aunt Vera (played luminously by Diane Ladd) breaks her foot, and Dora ... more info