The Music Films of Houston Cinema Arts Fest 2014

Bjork's Biophilia Live was partially recorded on an iPad.
Bjork's Biophilia Live was partially recorded on an iPad.
Images courtesy of Houston Cinema Arts Festival

Music-related films only make up about ten percent of the programming of this year's Houston Cinema Arts Festival, or five out of almost 50 films in all. But those five -- about far-flung subjects ranging from Indonesian street musicians, graffiti-strewn subway trains (set to a killer soundtrack), a Houston Ballet production, everyday citizens starring in impromptu music videos, and the one and only Bjork -- are easily as diversified and eclectic as both the six-year-old HCAF and the city that houses it. (See a full schedule of the fest, which runs tomorrow through Sunday, at this link.)

But besides its diversity, another thing that has become a calling card of the HCAF is its accessibility. Of this year's five music-themed selections, all except one are free to the public (space permitting), and the other -- the Bjork film -- is said to be like no other concert film in history, well worth the price of admission. Many other screenings are also free, while still others will be introduced by special guests like Houston rapper Bun B, who will do the honors for Jalanan (the Indonesian-musician film) tomorrow night at Cafe Brasil. Rocks Off will actually be on hand to introduce Bun and pick his brain about Jalanan afterward, so come up and say hi.

BJORK: BIOPHILIA LIVE

Screening Time/Venue: 9:50 p.m. Saturday, Sundance Cinema Directors: Nick Fenton, Peter Strickland Running Time: 97 minutes Synopsis: The Icelandic alt-pop diva in concert...with some rather unusual instruments. Tagline: "A revolutionary concert film capturing the human element of Bjork's multi-disciplinary multimedia project" Critic's Comment: "A dazzling audiovisual spectacle" -- Hollywood Reporter

Jalanan traces recent Indonesian history through the eyes of these three musicians.
Jalanan traces recent Indonesian history through the eyes of these three musicians.

Upcoming Events

JALANAN

Screening Time/Venue: 8 p.m. Thursday, Cafe Brasil* Director: Daniel Ziv Running Time: 108 minutes Synopsis: Five years in the lives of three plucky Jakarta street musicians. Tagline: "[The] elusive quest for identity and love in the day-to-day of a city overrun by the effects of globalization and corruption." Critic's Comment: "At once warm and strange...each protagonist is funny, eccentric and wonderfully open" -- Joshua Oppenheimer, The Act of Killing director * Seating is on a first-come/first-serve basis

Everyday Argentinians sing and dance all across Buenos Aires in Living Stars.
Everyday Argentinians sing and dance all across Buenos Aires in Living Stars.

LIVING STARS

Screening Time/Venue: 8 & 10 p.m. Saturday, Cafe Brasil* Directors: Mariano Cohn, Gaston Duprat Running Time: 63 minutes Synopsis: Residents of Buenos Aires dance to familiar pop songs, both at home and at work. Tagline: "A euphoric portait of the city and its fabulous inhabitants" Critic's Comment: "Mise-en-scene adds immeasurably to these encounters" -- Hollywood Reporter * Seating is on a first-come/first-serve basis

Stations of the Elevated seeks to portray graffiti as something other than "legalized vandalism."
Stations of the Elevated seeks to portray graffiti as something other than "legalized vandalism."

STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED

Screening Time/Venue: 8 & 9:15 p.m. Friday, Cafe Brasil* Director: Manfred Kirchheimer Running Time: 46 minutes Synopsis: The graffiti explosion of 1970s New York City as told on the city's subway trains; originally released in 1981. Tagline: "Forces audiences to ask, 'What is urban art, and what role does it play in the daily life of a city?' Critic's Comment: "An astonishingly beautiful film about graffiti-covered trains hurtling through a strange urban landscape filled with the debris of a decaying civilization" -- New York Film Festival Notes: Soundtrack features Charles Mingus, Aretha Franklin, and more. * Seating is on a first-come/first-serve basis

Suns de l'Ame was shown on television in several European countries.
Suns de l'Ame was shown on television in several European countries.

SUNS DE L'AME

Screening Time/Venue: 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Miller Outdoor Theatre* Director: Olivier Simonnet Running Time: 90 minutes Synopsis: Dancers interpret Houston Ballet Artistic Director Stanton Welch's choreography of several Frederic Chopin works, as played by renowned Chinese pianist Lang Lang. Premiered at Paris' Theatre des Champs-Elysees in October 2013. Tagline: "Sounds of the Soul" (English translation of the title) Critic's Comment: "The overall mood is clean and elegant, technically brilliant and powerfully emotive" -- Houston Press * Seating limited to first-come/first-serve basis

Watch the trailers for Bjork: Biophilia, Jalanan, Living Stars and Stations of the Elevated on the next page.

  BJORK: BIOPHILIA

JALANAN

LIVING STARS

STATIONS OF THE ELEVATED

HCAF tickets start at $8/$12 per movie, or $80 for a one-day pass through $600 for the All Access package. See hcaf14.org for details.

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