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Houston Cinema Arts Festival hosts annual Launch Party at new East Village hot spot to announce exciting films, guest artists, and special programs


Photography by Anna Veselova and Grady Carter

The ninth annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival hosted its Launch Party at Chapman & Kirby in East Village, Ancorian’s new mixed-use complex in bustling East Downtown.  Houston  trendsetters, cinephiles,  influencers,  and  thought  leaders  gathered together to discuss the exciting lineup for HCAF17, which will take place from November 9 - 13.


Remarks began with Houston Cinema Arts Society Board Chair Franci Neely, who kicked off the program portion of the evening and complimented the new party venue. A special message from NASA astronaut Joe Acaba, who is currently aboard the International Space Station, followed Neely’s comments. Acaba encouraged the Houston community to remain strong and persistent in the continued recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey.


Houston Cinema Arts Society Executive Director Patrick Kwiatkowski then took the microphone and gave additional introductory remarks before handing the proverbial stage to HCAS Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz for his customary lineup presentation.


Through visuals, descriptions, and several film clips, Herskowitz took the audience on an interactive tour that spanned the entirety of the programming that will be showcased at this year’s festival. Before and after the presentation, guests mingled, discussed the films and artists with one another, and dabbled on light bites, including charcuterie and cheese offerings provided by Chapman & Kirby and Yo Yo’s hot dogs provided by the Houston Cinema Arts Society. Attendees also enjoyed complimentary wine and beer courtesy of Chapman & Kirby while they reveled in the pleasure of an absolutely perfect fall evening in Houston, which is a rare treat. Silver Eagle Distributors additionally provided Stella Artois beer for guests.


Highlights of the 2017 Houston Cinema Arts Festival will include two Opening Night films, Love, Cecil at MFAH and Bodied at Rice Cinema; Singin’ in the Rain: A Houston and Cinema Arts Celebration at White Oak Music Hall featuring Bun B, Kat Edmonson, and other special guests; the third annual CineSpace short film competition in partnership with NASA; world premieres of Ash: The Art of Wayne Gilbert and Jesse Lott: Artist in Action, which are films about Houston-based visual artists by local filmmakers; local premieres of previous festival darlings and major awards contenders; and a retrospective of Abigail Child as part of Cinema on the Verge, the festival’s selection of boundary-pushing experimental films.

The event also included the announcement of the 13 CineSpace finalists, which were chosen from 650 submissions garnered from 55 countries across the globe, by NASA’s Dan Jacobs; DJ EXX spinning hits that kept the atmosphere electric throughout the festivities; telescopes from the Houston Astronomical Society that dazzled patrons late into the night; and a photobooth courtesy of Silver Eagle Distributors. The enthusiastic crowd purchased festival t- shirts and passes throughout the evening in support of one of Houston’s true civic endeavors.


Notable Houston cinema enthusiasts seen mingling in the crowd included Houston Cinema Arts Society Board Chair Franci Neely, HCAS Executive Director Patrick Kwiatkowski, HCAS Board Member Bun B, Susie Criner, Gulf Coast Entertainment’s Annie Eiffler, HCAS Board Member Fredericka Hunter, HCAS Board Member Ann Vaughan, Houston Film Commission’s Rick Ferguson, NASA’s Dan Jacobs, HCAS Advisory Board Member Margarita De la Vega-Hurtado, Marian Luntz of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Houston Film Commission’s Alfred Cervantes, HCAS Strategy and Development Officer Mary Lampe, HCAS Operations Manager Angelina von Graff, and HCAS Artistic Director Richard Herskowitz.


Full festival passes and individual tickets for the 2017 Houston Cinema Arts Festival are now on sale. The complete schedule is available at

For pass information, please visit


For    individual    ticket    information,    please    visit




Houston Cinema Arts Society (HCAS) is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization dedicated to presenting innovative films, media installations, and performances that celebrate the artistic process and enrich Houston’s culture and urban vitality. Created in 2008 with the support of former Houston Mayor Bill White and philanthropist Franci Neely, it organizes and hosts the annual Houston Cinema Arts Festival, a groundbreaking and innovative festival featuring films and new media by and about artists in the visual, performing, and literary arts. The Festival celebrates the diversity of the arts in Houston and elevates the city’s film and arts scene. Houston Cinema Arts Society sponsors include premiere sponsor Houston First Corporation, signature sponsor Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, and featured sponsor Levantine Films. HCAS is also supported in part by the Franci Neely Foundation; the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance; an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, Art Works; the Brown Foundation; and a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts. The 2017 Houston Cinema Arts Festival will take place from November 9-13, 2017.

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