The Houston Press Indie Film Series will honor filmmakers who've fought their own uphill production battles. "We just had a desire to do a true independent film series in Houston," says organizer Monica Keels, Houston Press promotions director. "What we're showing are films, I think, that the everyday filmgoer is going to be interested in. Some of them are a little weird, but that's okay. I think that holds true to the independent spirit."
The series includes eight full-length films and six shorts. Its opening film is director Paul Quinn's Never Get Outta the Boat, which lists John Cusack as a producer. The movie takes place in a gritty Hollywood drug rehab center, where protagonists Joe, Cesar and Franky are trying to get clean. Their efforts are going swimmingly until a popular rock star and some alcoholics who are still on the sauce move in.
Other promising flicks include Danny Clinch and Sam Lee's Pleasure and Pain, a documentary chronicling the life and music of roots-rock prince Ben Harper; Shinsuke Sato's The Princess Blade, a jolting Asian samurai actioner inspired by the comic Shurayukihime; and Deepa Mehta's Bollywood/Hollywood, a love letter to the majestic, extravagant musicals of India.
Romantic-comedy fans will dig Stu Pollard's Nice Guys Sleep Alone, a film set in Kentucky horse country about a good guy named Carter who can't get laid. His best friend and sister tell him that if he'd quit being so nice, he'd have more luck. So when Carter meets a woman he could fall in love with, he tries to win her over by playing it cool.
Each feature screening will be accompanied by a short. Among the openers are Talk to You Later, Houstonian Steven Hentges's film about female neuroses, and In/Out, about a guy who starts questioning reality when he sees a weird old man outside his window.
Several featured filmmakers will be present at their screenings, and they'll stick around afterward for Q-and-A sessions. Gillie, the screenwriter, co-producer and co-star of Never Get Outta the Boat, says he finds the format of the series refreshing. "It's interesting that they're screening one film a week," says Gillie. "That tells me that whoever is organizing the festival is really, really serious about film and not so much about the glamour of having a film festival."