Best Virtual Bets: HAAPIFEST, Pariah, and Love Motels for Insects

Installation view of "Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon."EXPAND
Installation view of "Allora & Calzadilla: Specters of Noon."
Photo by Fredrik Nilsen
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If you’ve glanced at the forecast, you know we’re in for some rain this weekend. Still, we’re here to bring a list of the best bets this coming week. Lots of film, music and theater offerings are here. Some are virtual and some are outdoor events, because we like to be optimistic. That said, look out the window and check the websites before even attempting to leave the house.

If you’re a lover of arthropods, you’ll want to make plans to check out “Love Motels for Insects,” a limited-time, bug-watching experience courtesy of Buffalo Bayou Partnership and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts. Louisiana-based visual artist/biologist Brandon Ballengée will be on hand as UV lights are placed to attract the nocturnal arthropods (such as moths and beetles) for observation. Be sure to download the iNaturalist app and head down to one of the three pop-up locations between 8 to 10 p.m.: Buffalo Bend Nature Park on Thursday, June 3; Buffalo Bayou Silos on Friday, June 4; or Waugh Drive Bridge on Saturday, June 5. You can register for the free events here.

Aimee Long’s feature debut A Shot Through the Wall, a quite topical look at the aftermath following the shooting of a Black man by a Chinese-American cop, will lead off the 17th Annual Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival (HAAPIFEST) starting this Thursday, June 3. The festival, from OCA-Greater Houston, will present about 35 full-length and short films from around the world divided into themed blocks. “Raising Fierce Woman” (featuring a horror-comedy short, Miss Aswang, about girl who encounters a creature straight out of Filipino mythology on her 16th birthday) and “Raising Youth” (a block that includes a director Q&A following Iranian thriller Metamorphosis in the Slaughterhouse) are just two blocks you can expect. You can buy tickets here – $35 for an all-access pass ($60 if you want the commemorative HAAPIFEST t-shirt) or $5 for individual film blocks. The festival runs through June 13.

Disappointingly, the Alley Theatre won’t be doing a “Summer Chills” production this year. But if you’re looking for something in the spirit of the tradition, check out August Strindberg’s Pariah, the Alley’s latest digital short play offering, on Friday, June 4. Alley Resident Acting Company Members Shawn Hamilton and Todd Waite will play two archeologists who find themselves trapped in a battle of wills and morality in Strindberg’s play, translated and directed by Alley Artistic Director Rob Melrose. The play has been described as “nervously funny, vaguely Nietzschean and satirically familiar,” and – for those “Summer Chills” lovers – Melrose writes in the program that the “archeological setting and the frequent plot twists feel like an anticipation of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels.” You can register to view Pariah, which will be streaming through July 4, for free here.

Zaire ’74, “a huge sideshow” in the run-up to one of the greatest sporting events of all time – “The Rumble in the Jungle” – wasn’t just a three-day music festival. It was “a striking sociocultural moment,” a moment featured in Jeff Levy-Hinte’s film Soul Power, which kicks off the first Houston International Sports Film Festival on Friday, June 4, at 8:15 p.m. The new festival, which runs from Friday, June 4, to Sunday, June 6, at Discovery Green, will spotlight about a dozen films and documentaries about the lives of athletes on and off the field. Additionally, kids can enjoy sports clinics and sports-related STEM activities. All screenings are free (though registration is required for Soul Power), and be sure to check the HISFF website before heading to a screening, as there may be weather-related cancellations.

Celebrate Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s exhibition at the Menil Collection during the "Specters of Noon" Community Day on Saturday, June 5, from 3 to 6 p.m. The free outdoor offerings include live music with Will Cruz and Quattro, presented by DACAMERA (from 3 to 4 p.m.); Writers in the Schools (WITS) on hand to create personalized “Insta-Poetry” (from 3 to 5 p.m.); and readings of poems by Aimé Césaire and students of the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program who drew inspiration from the exhibit (from 5 to 6 p.m.). Events will take place on the Menil’s front lawn and guests are encouraged to bring picnic blankets or lawn chairs. You can find more information here.

After one severe weather-related delay, on Saturday, June 5, at 8 p.m. Stages – in partnership with Houston Cinema Arts Society – will relaunch Fatherland by Candice D’Meza. The digital project, a “gorgeously crafted mystically haunting 50-minute show” that premiered during Stages’ 4th Annual Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival, will be presented as a special outdoor screening on The Brown Foundation Lawn at The Gordy. D’Meza’s film, which “merges Haitian spirituality, song, dance, and theatrics,” also provides an opportunity to celebrate Haitian Heritage Month, so if you can’t make it to the screening you can always swing by from 6 to 7 p.m. to hear music and shop from local Black and Caribbean vendors.

Kinetic will close their season on Sunday, June 6, at 7 p.m. with an all-American, dance heavy program titled Delights & Dances. Curated by violinist Samuel Park, the program will include “Breeze Serenade,” a “slow and tender” movement from Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Higdon’s Dance Card; William Bolcom’s Graceful Ghost, an introspective tribute to the composer’s late father; John Adams’s “ferocious and exhilarating sonic rideShaker Loops; and the “dissonant joy” of Michael Abels’s Delights and Dances. The 2007 piece from Abels, best known for his scores to Get Out and Us, has been described as “a requiem of hope for the history of Black music in America.Tickets are pay-what-you-can, with a suggested price of $25. Following Sunday’s premiere, the concert will be available on demand through June 13.

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