Cinema Arts Festival Houston

November 20, 2010

We traveled to Houston, Texas last week for the Cinema Arts Festival Houston. For the first three nights we stayed in a hotel in central Houston, here is the view from our room on the 18th floor.

Houston after dark
Houston after dark

Wednesday was opening night at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. The festival had arranged for us to be driven there with other filmmakers also staying at our hotel. I didn’t recognize him at first, but two time academy award nominated animator Bill Plympton shared a ride over to the museum with us. He was on the phone most of the time talking about his latest feature film “Idiots and Angels“. We walked the red carpet upon arrival and a photographer was nice enough to use our camera for a photo.

Mark and Angela Walley on Red Carpet
Mark and Angela Walley on the Cinema Arts Festival Red Carpet

Opening Night at MFAH
Opening Night at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston

There was a really great turn out at the Museum, everyone was there to see John Turturro’s new film “Passione”, a musical journey through Naples, Italy. Turturro was in attendance and talked to the audience about his film and his love for the music of Naples.

Angela Walley and John Turturro
Angela Walley and John Turturro

Friday night at MFAH was the program “An Evening with Isabella Rossellini”. “My Wild Life”, an intimate portrait of Rossellini’s remarkable career screened before she was presented with the Levantine Cinema Arts Award. Following the presentation was a screening of several shorts from Rossellini’s new Sundance Channel series Seduce Me. Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz then spoke with Rossellini about her work.

Isabella Rossellini
Isabella Rossellini at MFAH

Isabella Rossellini
Isabella Rossellini discusses her work

She was so beautiful and funny, it was a really wonderful program to have attended. We then headed over to Frenetic Theater for Brent Green’s Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then. It was a very powerful film and performance with Green, Donna K. and accompaniment by Brendan Canty, Drew Henkel & John Michael Swartz. We had the opportunity to join Brent and Donna for dinner after the opening night party at MFAH. Brent became an instant mentor to us and was very open about his work and his success as both an artist and filmmaker. We felt an immediate connection with both of them and hope to stay in touch. Here are some photos Mark took during their performance on Friday night.

Brent Green
Brent Green, Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then
Donna K., Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then

Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then
Video still from Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then

The whole gang was super nice and down to earth. We got a quick silly photo one night at a festival after party. Donna gave us a shout out on her blog over here.

Cinema Arts Festival After party
Mark Walley, Brent Green, Donna K., Angela Walley, Drew Henkel and John Michael Swartz

Bill Plympton was part of a series of presentations called “Meet the Makers” sponsored by Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP). We love SWAMP, they are the amazing organization we received our Emerging Filmmakers Grant from in 2008.

Bill Plympton's Dogma
Bill Plympton at Cinema Arts Festival Houston

I love Bill’s advice for making successful films: Make them Short, Cheap and Funny. That dogma has really worked for him. He screened a series of his animated shorts and talked about his life and how he became the animator he is today. His dedication to animation is something to be admired. After his presentation he sat outside the theater to draw a character and sign postcards for the whole audience. After attending two of his screenings Mark and I collected three cows and a dog.

Bill Plympton
Bill Plympton

Saturday afternoon we screened a 40 minute program of our short documentaries about Texas based artists. We are so grateful to Alfred Cervantes, Deputy Director of the Houston Film Commission. Alfred did an amazing job hosting the screening and moderating our Q&A afterwards. We talked a little about how much we love working with artists and projects we have planned for the future.

Sarah Sudhoff
Still from “At the Hour of Our Death”

We spent the last three nights in Houston at The Art Guy’s studio apartment. Michael and his wife Rainey Knudson, Founder and Director of were so kind and accommodating.

The Art Guy's Jesus Room
The Art Guy’s Jesus Room

I have to say it was the most comfortable and unique place we’ve ever stayed. We’re definitely looking forward to having a place to stay when we visit Houston in the future.

The Art Guy's Jesus Room
Angela Walley in The Art Guy’s Jesus Room

Sunday was the final day of the festival. We were very much looking forward to seeing one of our favorite Fellini films 8 1/2 at the MFAH. It was a completely different experience from seeing it on our TV at home. It was a very nice way to end our trip in Houston.

8 1/2
8 1/2 Ending title

They are doing some amazing things over at the Cinema Arts Festival Houston. Special thanks to Executive Director Trish Rigdon and Artist Director Richard Herskowitz, as well as everyone who worked so hard to put this incredible Film Festival together. We hope to be a part of Cinema Arts Festival Houston for many years to come.


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