Houston Community News >> Museum of Fine Arts to Showcase Asian Cinema

2/25/2008 Houston -- This spring, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, takes filmgoers around the world, from Houston’s own Riverside neighborhood (in the locally produced documentary This is Our Home, It Is Not for Sale) to far-flung, exotic destinations outside of the United States. Filmgoers can venture to the towering peak of Switzerland’s iconic Matterhorn Mountain in Lenz (part of the fascinating Thomas Imbach retrospective, Happiness is a Warm Gun); or they can spend time with an artist, played by Gene Kelly, in postwar Paris in the classic An American in Paris. Filmgoers can even witness warfare from an army outpost near Lebanon’s Beaufort Castle in the Oscar-nominated Beaufort (from the Jewish Film Festival series).

In particular, MFAH Films prominently showcases Asian cinema. The selection is exceptionally well-timed as the museum continues to re-install its Asian art galleries and as FotoFest 2008: China and Transformations exhibits photography, film, and videos at various sites around Houston. Within the museum’s Brown Auditorium Theater, a variety of captivating films explore the world’s largest and most densely inhabited continent: Asia.

Asian Film Programming at the MFAH
• In collaboration with FotoFest 2008: China and Transformations, the MFAH presents Pan-Chinese Cinema Now, curated by Cheng-Sim Lim of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The four films in the series each uniquely portray the changing definitions of family and loyalty in China. Many of the films are recommended for adult audiences only.* (Exiled* on Saturday, March 8 and Sunday, March 9, both at 7 p.m.; I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone* on Friday, March 14 and Friday, March 21, both at 7 p.m.; Still Life on Saturday, March 29 and Sunday, March 30, both at 7 p.m.; Little Moth on Friday, April 4 and Sunday, April 6, both at 7 p.m.)

• The MFAH will screen the special presentation, Imagining China. This series, coordinated by the Southwest Alternate Media Project (SWAMP), is inspired by the “China” and “Transformations” themes of FotoFest 2008 and will be selected by a special jury. The selection process is still under way and filmmakers can send applications to SWAMP (swamp@swamp.org) through February 29. (Saturday, April 5, 7 p.m.)

• A “Film Revival” of Woman in the Dunes, a Japanese classic from 1964, screens in April. A drifting entomologist finds himself trapped in the sand-pit house of a gorgeous widow, with the sand acting as an ominous third character. This film has been cited as an influence by Japanese photographer Miwa Yanagi, who is currently the subject of an exhibition at the MFAH. (Friday, April 11 and Saturday, April 12, both at 7 p.m.)

• The 4th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival, presented in conjunction with the Jewish Community Center of Houston, features screenings at both venues. (More details are listed below)

• Finally, the MFAH screens a “Special Presentation” of Lifting the Veil/Afghanistan Unveiled. Journalist Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy investigates to see if life for Afghani women has changed since the fall of the Taliban. Obaid-Chinoy makes a special appearance at the museum to discuss her film. (Monday, April 14 at 7 p.m.)

All films screen in the Brown Auditorium Theater in the MFAH’s Caroline Wiess Law Building, 1001 Bissonnet Street. Film descriptions and a complete schedule can be found below. For more information, the public can call 713-639-7515.

Additional Film Programming in March and April
• An award-winning documentary, Note by Note: The Making of Steinway L1037 follows the creation of a Steinway concert grand from forest floor to concert hall. Each piano’s journey spans 12 months, 12,000 parts, 450 craftsmen, and countless hours of fine-tuned labor. Internationally recognized musicians provide commentary. (Friday, February 29, 7 p.m.; Saturday, March 1, 7 p.m.; Sunday, March 2, 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.)

• Students from the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston’s Teen Council programmed the films in the CAMH Teen Council Presents series, and the students introduce the screenings. Programming includes Woody Allen’s futuristic Sleeper (Friday, March 7, 7 p.m.); Darkon, a documentary about gamers (Friday, March 7, 9 p.m.); Nói the Albino, a drama about a frustrated teenager in a remote, Icelandic fishing village (Friday, March 28, 7 p.m.); and the classic surfing film, The Endless Summer (Friday, March 28, 9 p.m.)

• A collaboration between the MFAH and the Jewish Community Center of Houston, the 4th Annual Jewish Film Festival features screenings at both venues. General admission is $8 (a special admission price). In addition to Beaufort (Saturday, March 22, 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 23, 3 p.m.); five other films are included in the MFAH’s line-up. Sixty Six features Helena Bonham Carter and Stephen Rea in a hilarious coming-of-age comedy about a British boy and his 1966 bar mitzvah. (Saturday, March 15, 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, March 16, 3 p.m.). Making Trouble examines the history of Jewish comediennes from Fanny Brice to Joan Rivers. (Sunday, March 16, 1 p.m.) Jellyfish (Meduzot) is a pre-release screening courtesy of Zeitgeist Films, telling the intersecting stories of three Tel Aviv women in Israel. Jellyfish won the Camera d’Or (Best First Feature Film) at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival. (Sunday, March 16, 5 p.m.) A Love to Hide is the extraordinary French film about a woman hidden from the Nazis by her childhood friend, who has a secret of his own. (Sunday, March 16, 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 22, 9:30 p.m.) Little Heroes is one of the first children’s films made in Israel, charting the adventures of a boy, a Russian immigrant girl with telepathic powers, and her mentally challenged brother. (Sunday, March 23, 1 p.m.) Visit www.jcchouston.org for a schedule of films screening there.

• In conjunction with the museum’s Target Free First Sundays in March and April, the film department offers Family Flicks free of charge. On Sunday, March 2, a quartet of films will focus on homes and architecture. These include a 50-year old classic, Building an Igloo, the award-winning Sandcastles, and two delightful animations based on children’s books: Roberto the Insect Architect and The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. On Sunday, April 6, the MFAH screens Peter Pan, a 1924 silent version that will be presented with live musical accompaniment by harpist Leslie McMichael.

• Happiness is a Warm Gun – The Thomas Imbach Films introduces audiences to the work of the remarkable, award-winning Swiss filmmaker Thomas Imbach (born 1962). Imbach has consistently probed the boundaries between film and video, documentary and fiction, cinema tradition and cutting-edge technology. Visit www.thomasimbach.ch to learn more. (Well Done on Friday, April 25 at 5:30 p.m.; Ghetto on Friday, April 25 at 7 p.m.; I Was a Swiss Banker on Saturday, April 26 at 7 p.m.; Lenz on Sunday, April 27 at 5 p.m.; Happiness is a Warm Gun, recommended for adult audiences only, on Sunday, April 27 at 7 p.m.)

• The Movies Houstonians Love series continues with Houstonian Joanne King Herring introducing her favorite film, Tea with Mussolini. The 1999 film, directed by the legendary Franco Zeffirelli, is set in pre-World War II Italy and features an ensemble cast, including Cher, Judy Dench, Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith and Lily Tomlin. Joanne King Herring has served on five Fortune 500 boards, was knighted by the king of Belgium, received Pakistan’s Sitara Medal, and was the basis for Julia Roberts’s character in the newly released film, Charlie Wilson’s War. Ms. Herring will introduce the film. (Monday, April 28, 7 p.m.)

March & April Film Schedule

1 Sat. 7 p.m. Note by Note: The Making of a Steinway
2 Sun. 2 p.m. Home and architecture-themed films
(Target Free First Sunday Family Flick)
5 p.m. Note by Note: The Making of a Steinway
7 p.m. Note by Note: The Making of a Steinway
7 Fri. 7 p.m. Sleeper (CAMH Teen Council)
9 p.m. Darkon (CAMH TEEN Council)
8 Sat. 7 p.m. Exiled (Pan-Chinese Cinema Now)
9 Sun. 7 p.m. Exiled (Pan-Chinese Cinema Now)
14 Fri. 7 p.m. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Pan-Chinese
Cinema Now)
15 Sat. 7:30 p.m. Sixty Six (Jewish Film Festival)
16 Sun. 1 p.m. Making Trouble (Jewish Film Festival)
3 p.m. Sixty Six (Jewish Film Festival)
5 p.m. Jellyfish (Jewish Film Festival)
7 p.m. A Love to Hide (Jewish Film Festival)
21 Fri. 7 p.m. I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Pan-Chinese
Cinema Now)
22 Sat. 7 p.m. Beaufort (Jewish Film Festival)
9:30 p.m. A Love to Hide (Jewish Film Festival)
23 Sun. 1 p.m. Little Heroes (Jewish Film Festival)
3 p.m. Beaufort (Jewish Film Festival)
28 Fri. 7 p.m. Nói the Albino (CAMH Teen Council)
9 p.m. The Endless Summer (CAMH Teen Council)
29 Sat. 7 p.m. Still Life (Pan-Chinese Cinema Now)
30 Sun. 7 p.m. Still Life (Pan-Chinese Cinema Now)

4 Fri. 7 p.m. Little Moth (Pan-Chinese Cinema Now)
5 Sat. 7 p.m. Imagining China
6 Sun. 2 p.m. Peter Pan (Target Free First Sunday
Family Flick)
7 p.m. Little Moth (Pan-Chinese Cinema Now)
11 Fri. 7 p.m. Woman in the Dunes
12 Sat. 7 p.m. Woman in the Dunes
13 Sun. 2 p.m. This is Our Home, It Is Not for Sale
14 Mon. 7 p.m. Lifting the Veil/Afghanistan Unveiled
18 Fri. 7 p.m. An American in Paris
19 Sat. 7 p.m. An American in Paris
20 Sun. 7 p.m. An American in Paris
25 Fri. 5:30 p.m. Well Done (Thomas Imbach)
7 p.m. Ghetto (Thomas Imbach)
26 Sat. 7 p.m. I Was a Swiss Banker (Thomas Imbach)
27 Sun. 5 p.m. Lenz (Thomas Imbach)
7 p.m. Happiness is a Warm Gun (Thomas
28 Mon. 7 p.m. Tea with Mussolini (Movies Houstonians
Love – Joanne King Herring)

Brown Auditorium Theater Box Office
General admission is $7. MFAH members, senior adults, and students with ID receive a $1 discount. Unless otherwise indicated, Film Buffs members are admitted free. Children 5 and under are admitted free. The MFAH Films box office can accept payment by cash, check, and credit cards. Tickets may be purchased in advance. Advance sales are available at the box office, online at www.mfah.org, or at Membership or Visitor Services desks in the Law and Beck Buildings during museum hours. The box office opens at 5:30 p.m. for weekend evening screenings and 30 minutes before the show time for other films.

MFAH Parking
The museum’s parking garage is in the MFAH Visitors Center, located at 5600 Fannin Street at Binz Street (entrance on Binz). Free parking is available in two lots on Main Street, at Bissonnet and at Oakdale.

Cafe Express at the MFAH
Cafe Express, located on the lower level of the Audrey Jones Beck Building, is now serving dinner and lighter fare for evening moviegoers. Each theater ticket purchase
includes a discount coupon for the cafe. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday.

Film Buffs and MFAH Films Sponsorship
Movie lovers can join the MFAH Film Buffs and receive free admission to MFAH films, plus invitations to sneak previews, special events with visiting filmmakers, and lectures by film scholars. For more information, please call 713-639-7531.

The MFAH Film department receives generous funding from Tenaris, Ternium, Consul Général de France à Houston, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, ILEX Foundation, the Lois Chiles Foundation, Franci Neely Crane, Louisa Stude Sarofim in honor of Nina and Michael Zilkha, Dr. and Mrs. A. Behrooz Ramesh, Mr. Monsour Taghdisi, the Consulate General of Spain, McKool Smith in honor of Sam Hesse, Mokaram & Associates, and Ms. Regina J. Rogers.

MFAH Films
The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s film program is the largest of its kind in the southwestern United States. MFAH first began screening films in the 1930s, and the Brown Auditorium, located in the Caroline Wiess Law Building and designed by Bauhaus architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, opened in 1973. The auditorium immediately distinguished itself by having stadium seating 20 years before such design became the standard for American movie theaters, and because the Caroline Wiess Law Building is one of only two museums designed by this major twentieth-century architect. Marian Luntz, the film program director and curator of film and video at MFAH since 1990, continues the program’s tradition of showcasing a broad range of classic and contemporary Hollywood films, foreign language films, and premieres of independent films—many by local artists. Often, critics, scholars, and filmmakers come to the showings as visiting speakers to give audiences a deeper understanding of movies and moviemaking. In 2005 and 2006, MFAH Films was named “The Best Place to See Vintage Flicks” by the Houston Press.

General Film Information: 713-639-7515, or www.mfah.org .