Bears Fonté and the H-Town Multicultural Film Festival
06.11.13 | Bears Fonté
Every year, shorts arrive at our office from all over the world. I love watching these international shorts because you can really get a sense of place and culture and people in just a few minutes. Filmmakers are able to take chances and tell unseen stories when they don’t have to worry about funding an entire feature. However, what I notice most watching these films is the universality of themes, and the emotions. Last year our shorts program was particularly strong. Some of these films – and indeed their filmmakers – touched my heart with their stories. And then the festival ended. Other than stealing a copy of the film from our Archive, what else could I do?
Enter the H-Town Multicultural Film Festival. A very passionate founder of an Art House theatre (14 Pews), told me all about how a study labeled Houston the most culturally diverse city in the world – and she wanted to start a film festival to showcase that fact. Of course, I signed on near immediately and became a guest programmer, curating three programs of shorts over the three day festival – debuting this weekend, June 14th-16th in Houston (for more information click here). Several of the shorts I selected were standouts from the 2012 festival, others were films I either didn’t have the space for last year, or had discovered since. I hope you’ll be able to join me in Houston this weekend – it’ll be like buying a ticket around the globe.
Friday night the festival opens with Shorts Program One: The View From Outside. Sometimes the most powerful stories are the real ones. In this collection of documentary shorts, including Oscar-Winner INOCENTE, occasionally the direness of truth can provide a ray of hope to the future, for both the audience and for the subject. At 15, homeless, and undocumented, Inocente refuses to let her dark past color her dreams and her canvases. Other films include UNRAVEL and ILLEGAL, a film produced by Houston native Diana Espitia (in attendance).
On Saturday, the day opens with Shorts Program Two: The World Comes Of Age. 7 stories from around the globe, from 7 people on the verge of growing up. Mexico, Somalia, Australia, Afghanistan, Spain and the UK — every youth is born into a unique experience. Each life filled with its own set of problems, tragic or trivial. This program is based on my favorite program from our festival last year, with a couple swap-outs and two Oscar-nominated films (AFF Narrative Short Jury Winner ASAD and BUZKASHI BOYS). Other highlights include two animated shorts (JAMÓN and FROM A TO B AND BACK AGAIN), San Antonio native Will Shipley’s MENTIROSO, and YARDBIRD, an Australian film AFF US premiered and has since played almost every major festival.
On Sunday, the day opens with the final shorts program, DIRTY LAUNDRY, which should probably be screening at midnight, but hopefully no kids will wander in. Love is simple. Sex is complicated. From that first taste, to sex as revenge, to collateral damage left in our wake. Mature adults-only stories about sex and sexuality, love and love-making. This program features our AFF Student Short Jury Winner HATCH, and stories of deviant deception from Peru, Sweden, and Spain, as well as my favorite film from Sundance 2013, SOCIAL BUTTERFLY.
Of course, the H-Town Multicultural Film Fest is not just shorts, with many features (MY HEART IN YAMBO, WHEN HARI GOT MARRIED) making their Texas premieres, and one of my favorite Sundance 2013 features – HOUSTON – making its Houston premiere. It’s an exciting program for a first year of a festival, and I’m glad to have helped put it together. I hope to see you there.