Reel Worlds

Houston mines international gold with the Pan-Cultural Film Festival

"The terrific thing about the Pan-Cultural Film Festival is the exposure it provides for movies that might get lost in the shuffle of the mainstream movie marketplace," says former Houston Post film critic Joe Leydon, now a critic for Variety.

He cites last year's festival presentation of Midaq Alley, "one the greatest Mexican films of recent years," Leydon says. "Here's an extraordinary movie, based on a novel by Naguib Mahfouz, the Nobel Prize-winning writer -- and, disgracefully, it took over four years for it to receive any kind of U.S. distribution. It never saw any kind of commercial release in Houston. That's just one reason why local movie buffs should support events like the Pan-Cultural Festival."

The festival is seeking support. "We don't have any money, but the Cultural Arts Council and the Texas Commission on the Arts and individuals -- $20 here, $20 there -- are helping us to put it together," says Kamara.

He's looking for "people who are passionate about film, especially art film, and social and cultural issues." And he has found some in the Houston Endowment, and even (mirabile dictu!) at the increasingly parsimonious National Endowment for the Arts.

"Every little bit helps," he says. "This is a grassroots effort."

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