The Rest of the Best 2014: Houston's Top 10 Film Festivals
We love film festivals. Thankfully, Houston has loads to choose from. Here's our list of the top 10 film festivals in Houston. Most of these will seem familiar to movie fans; the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's Latin Wave, the Houston Indian Film Festival and the ever impressive Houston Cinema Arts Society all made the cut.
Also on our radar, but missing from this list is the Reel Teen Film Festival at the Houston Public Library. A collection of new works by young filmmakers, Teen Fest has an impressive track record for presenting a mix of films that range from studiously serious to happily silly with awards in eight categories. The next Reel Teen fest is scheduled for May 2014.
In the also ran category is the now defunct Mexican Film Festival organized by Viva Cinema, which ran a multi-plex in the Sharpstown shopping center. While it boasted some great films, the festival was a victim of a poor publicity campaign. The trouble didn't stop there. Viva Cinema closed the theater down last fall due to what it said were unfair industry practices.
10. Houston Iranian Film Festival
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Rice Cinema
One of two festivals on our list hosted by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston's outstanding film department, led by long-time curator Marian Luntz, the Houston Iranian Film Festival does a great job of finding gems such as My Name Is Negahdar Jamali and I Make Westerns, (seen above) a 2012 documentary by director Kamran Heydari. My Name chronicled the unexpected story of Negahdar Jamali, a pleasant who has spent the last 35 years making amateur westerns which feature sometimes reluctant friends and family in front of the camera.
Another recent film featured at the festival is Negar Azarbeyjani's 2011 Facing Mirrors, an impressive narrative debut that follows Eddie, a female-to-male transgendered person, as he tries to make his way to Germany for reassignment surgery and Jafar Panahi's 2011 This Is Not a Film, made by the Panahi who was under house arrest in Iran and banned from filmmaking at the time for reportedly creating "propaganda against the regime."
Darren Stein's 2013 G.B.F.
It's been less than 20 years since Loris Bradley of DiverseWorks, Liz Empleton of Rice Cinema, Sarah Gish of Landmark Theatres, and Marian Luntz of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, put together the First Annual Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (HGLFF). Steve Buck of the now defunct Angelika Film Center and Andrea Grover of The Aurora Picture Show soon joined them and helped grow the festival. Now under the direction of Kristian Salinas with such cinema and queer advocates as Stephanie Saint Sanchez and Rachel Boyle, Q-Fest is in good hands. The next festival, scheduled for next July, should be announced soon.
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