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HOUSTON – Having just wrapped the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston, Executive Director Trish Rigdon reported early estimates for attendance exceeding 10,000 people – setting an unprecedented record for the festival dedicated to films by and about performing, visual and literary artists. In just its third year in existence, Cinema Arts Festival Houston (CAFH) drew standing room only crowds at screenings, a continuous wave of foot traffic at eye-popping installations – dubbed Cinema on the Verge – and scores of enthusiastic supporters at live performances and events throughout the city over the 5-day period of the festival.
Opening night on Nov. 9, 2011 set the tone for this year’s unrivaled success with the regional premiere of Downtown Express, accompanied by director David Grubin and the film’s star, the brilliant Russian-American violinist Philippe Quint. The Brown Auditorium at Museum of Fine Arts, Houston drew a crowd of more than 300, who were treated post-screening to Quint’s live performance of two numbers, including Tchaikovsky Melody and a stunning rendition of It Ain’t Necessarily So.
The line up of international artists, cutting edge filmmakers, and A-list talent (in the form of Ethan Hawke and Texas-based director Richard Linklater) proved to be as alluring to festival participants as to festival-goers. “One of the nicest aspects of this year’s festival was the camaraderie among the guest artists and the pleasure they took in experiencing each other’s films and Houston’s hospitality,” said CAFH Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz.
Indeed, Shakespeare High producer Brad Koepenick echoed that sentiment following the debut of his award-winning documentary. “As an actor and filmmaker, I’ve been to dozens of festivals, including Toronto, Sundance and Tribeca, but what sets Cinema Arts Festival Houston apart is its unique array of international films and artists, its exceptional vision of blending live performance and film and its dedication to providing ‘an experience’ for both the festival participants and the audience at large.” When charter and arts students were brought in from four different schools around the city to see Koepenick’s documentary on teen actors, he said “I can honestly say that after debuting clips at The Kennedy Center, premiering the film at Tribeca and finding theatrical distribution, this was a high point for the film this year and for me personally.”
From fascinating conversations with legendary Latin American director Patricio Guzman and Braden King’s unforgettable presentation of Here: The Story Never Sleeps, to the joyous responses to Trimpin’s interactive installations and the articulate and genuine presence of Ethan Hawke, the 2011 Cinema Arts Festival Houston was a perfect storm of programming – complete with a storybook ending.
As over 3,000 people converged on Miller Outdoor Theatre for the festivities surrounding the world debut of Art Car: The Movie, co-director Carlton Ahrens confirmed, “It was an overwhelmingly positive experience and such an honor that we were chosen to be a part of it. It’s such a cool thing to have a free showing for thousands of people to come out and see.”
Ahrens’ business partner and co-director Ford Gunter summed it up this way: “The entire festival was a whirlwind of incredible screenings, panels and interactive installations. It’s a huge thrill and honor to be part of it, surrounded by peers we hold in high, high regard. The entire event, from the guest artists to the volunteer corps, could not have been more friendly and helpful in just about every way.
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 www.cinemartsociety.org.