The Houston Cinema Arts Festival is in its 11th year of running and this may be their biggest year. The festival runs from 11/14-11/18 celebrating the arts through film. In parallel, Cinespace (in conjunction with NASA) will judge their finalists that use space imagery as a part of the content. The HCAF opened with a film called Waves, directed by Houston native Trey Edward Shults and was a sold out performance.
It is not often that you watch a film that is emotionally raw yet you can’t bring yourself to tears. Waves was that experience for me. On a journey with an American middle class family , in South Florida, it felt too familiar (and the familiarity was more than being from South Florida). In the talk back with the director and Bun B, they discussed how the experiences could happen in any American family.
My immediate numbness came from seeing so many reflections of myself and people around me. The film focused on choices and consequences and displayed what happens when communication is frayed or non-existent. In addition, Trey mentioned he wanted to create empathy for his characters, not judgement. The characters experienced relatable trauma and joy. Yet, it was the non-expectance that threw me off. Reminding me that each of us has a story and none of us appear like what we have been through. After watching Waves, I was reminded of the fragility of life and the importance of focusing on each day with care. Hugging and loving those around you is the most important reminder received from the film.
The Houston Cinema Arts Festival is demonstrating that diverse content attracts diverse audiences. Houston is the most diverse city in the country and it was warming being in an audience that reflects the population of our city. There are several amazing films throughout the festival. I am looking forward most to Sugar Cane Alley which is a repurposed film (recently played by Ava Duvernay at her theater opening) where the director will be joining us from France. In addition, Black Rodeo will be a documentary about the rodeo lifestyle through the eyes of black rodeo riders. There will also be rodeo riders for a talk back after the film (we know you won’t be at the Kanye concert so come through and support).
Every year the Houston Cinema Arts festival gets better and this is their best year ever. Individual tickets are available for each film or a pass for the week. I have not seen ratings on the films so it is best to assume that it is most appropriate for adults.