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Award-winning Movie
by Houstonian Robbie Pickering
Serves as Highlight of Texas Offerings


HOUSTON – The 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston will showcase its largest selection of Texas programs, including, narrative and documentary shorts and features and a panel discussion. While the festival’s contingent of Texas films has been building every year since its inception, this category has naturally become a substantial component of the Houston celebration of film and the arts. One of the six Texas-based programs in this year’s festival, Natural Selection, swept seven awards at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival, and was directed by Houston native, Robbie Pickering. Pickering will appear with the film on Sunday, November 13th at Edwards Greenway Grand Palace.

After leaving Houston for New York, Pickering received his undergraduate degree at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. During his time at Tisch, he wrote and directed two short films, both of which won the Student Film Award at the Hamptons International Film Festival in their respective years. Pickering is the first and only participant in the nearly twenty-year history of the festival to win the student award twice. In his feature film directorial debut, Pickering and his comedy, Natural Selection garnered seven awards at the 2011 South by Southwest Film Festival, including Grand Jury and Audience Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Breakthrough Performance for Rachael Harris and Matt O’Leary.

Natural Selection is the story of Linda White, a devoted Christian housewife, who leads a sheltered and childless existence in suburban Texas. Her world is turned upside-down when Linda discovers that her husband has a 23-year old illegitimate son, Raymond, living in Florida. Linda sets out on a quixotic journey to find him and reunite him with his father; along the way she develops a tender and surprising relationship with Raymond that forces her to come to terms with her past and rethink her future.

Another marquee screening that will take place as part of the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston is Echotone, a documentary directed by Nathan Christ and photographed by Robert Garza. Showing at River Oaks Theater on Thursday, Nov. 10, Echotone is a cultural portrait of a modern American city examined through the lyrics and lens of its creative class. Internationally known as “The Live Music Capital of the World,” Austin’s music culture has led it to become a leading cultural destination. Yet working musicians and their environments are being trampled by high-rises and upscale developments. This lyrical documentary provides a telescopic view into the lives of Austin’s vibrant young musicians as they grapple with questions of artistic integrity, commercialism, experimentation, and the future of their beloved city.

One such musician who appears in Echotone is Dana Falconberry, an Austin artist who has been hailed by the Austin Chronicle as one of the city’s “most promising singer-songwriters” and “most arresting female vocalists.” Falconberry will bring her musical talent to Houston, playing live for the audience at River Oaks Theater following a Q&A.

Also taking place during the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston is the Texas Filmmakers Showcase, in partnership with the Houston Film Commission (HFC).  Each year, this showcase of Texas’ finest short films is presented to executives in the Hollywood film community, with subsequent screenings around Texas throughout the rest of the year. The selection committee is a cross-section of film industry professionals from outside the state of Texas. This year’s program of short films includes 8 by Julie Gould and Daniel Laabs, Fatakra by Soham Mehta, The Man Who Never Cried by Bradley Jackson, Sasquatch Birth Journal by David and Nathan Zellner, and more. The Texas Filmmakers Showcase will take place on Thursday, Nov. 10 at 3:45 pm at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Brown Auditorium.

Another partnership with the Houston Film Commission is a panel discussion focusing on filmmakers from the Bayou City who recently premiered their feature documentaries or will premiere a film at the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston. “Meet the Makers” includes Jena Moreno, director of Stitched, a documentary that follows three quilters racing to complete their entries for the International Quilt Festival in Houston, the largest quilt show in the nation; Ford Gunter and Carlton Ahrens, co-directors of Art Car: The Movie, which will premiere on the closing night of the festival; and Alex Luster, director of Stick ‘Em Up. Moderated by Alex Cervantes from the HFC, the panel will discuss what they learned and what to look out for in bringing a feature documentary to completion. They will share stories about hanging with art car builders, illegal street artists and cutthroat competitive quilters.

“Where I’m From” is another showcase of Texas film offerings at this year’s festival and will take place at Rice Cinema on Saturday, Nov. 12 at 3:00 PM. The “2011 Where I’m From Short Film Contest,” cosponsored by Texas Monthly and the Austin Film Festival, gave Texas filmmakers a chance to depict the places they’re from, in ten minutes or less. The program at Rice will screen the 11 best submissions, proving that in Texas, cities and towns are more than just locations on a map; these places are part of who we are and how we define ourselves.

As previously announced, Art Car: The Movie will make its world premiere and conclude the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston and round out the Texas films. Directed by former journalist Ford Gunter and Carlton Ahrens, this new documentary follows a handful of local artists as they prepare their entries for the granddaddy of them all, the 2010 Houston Art Car Parade. With almost 300 entrants and more than 300,000 spectators, the Art Car Parade in Houston is the biggest in the world, and attracts talent from across the globe. Gunter and Ahrens traveled across the U.S. and the world talking to artists, critics and academics to figure out where art cars fit in the art world and define the car’s place in American culture and as a reflection of self. With 250-plus hours of footage of more than 50 artists, experts, politicians and celebrities, including 2010 Grand Marshal Dan Akyroyd, 2010 participant Larry the Cable Guy and past Grand Marshal George Clinton, Art Car: The Movie tells the classic American story of the quintessential form of public art.

Along with an outdoor festival of music, art and live entertainment, Art Car: The Movie will screen on Sunday, Nov. 13 at Miller Outdoor Theater in Hermann Park.

As previously announced, the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston also will feature many live musical and artistic performances, ranging from virtuoso violinist Philippe Quint to multimedia artist Miwa Matreyek. Further, the festival will feature many international films and guests, including such notables as Patricio Guzman (Chile), Zhu Wen (China) and Mahmoud Kaabour (Lebanon). Further, the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston will screen its first 3D movie, PINA, adance film by great German director, Wim Wenders, the famed director of Houston-filmed Paris, Texas.

The 2011 festival is scheduled to take place in Houston from Nov. 9 to 13. Cinema Arts Festival Houston capitalizes on the city’s status as an international art city, collaborating with many of Houston’s museums, art centers, theaters, and cultural institutions.  Works are shown not only in traditional theatrical venues but also via interactive video installations, live music and film performances, and outdoor projections. Past festivals have featured guests Isabella Rossellini, Tilda Swinton, John Turturro, Richard Linklater, Alex Gibney, andShirley MacLaine. The 2010 festival drew thousands of film enthusiasts and art lovers spread among over 40 screenings and events.

In addition to the films and international guests announced here, the festival will unveil its complete program, including major new releases and special guests, on Oct. 17 at a special event at The Grove. The full schedule and tickets to the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston will be available on the HCAS website at on Oct. 18.

ABOUT THE HOUSTON CINEMA ARTS SOCIETY Houston Cinema Arts Society is a non-profit organization created in 2008 with the support of former Houston Mayor Bill White and the leadership of Franci Crane. HCAS organizes and hosts the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, a groundbreaking and innovative arts festival featuring films and new media by and about artists in the visual, performing and literary arts.  The festival celebrates the vitality and diversity of the arts in Houston and enriches the city’s film and arts community. HCAS sponsors include the Crane Foundation, a grant from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, Levantine Entertainment, Houston First Corporation, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Champion Energy Services, Amegy Bank of Texas, The Brown Foundation, Inc. and others. The project is also supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Texas Commission on the Arts. The 2013 Houston Cinema Arts Festival was held Nov. 6-10. For more information, please visit HCAS at