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Free for All: Art Without a Price Tag: Stopped on Track, Lauren Conrad and Shakespeare on the Green - A Midsummer Night's Dream

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On Friday, there are two free and very different film screenings to choose from. Over at Rice University, there's Andreas Dresen: Cloud 9 and Stopped on Track. The films were award-winners at Cannes. Cloud 9 is about a woman who has an affair after 30 years of married life, while Stopped on Track is about a man diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. Stopped on Track, making its U.S. premiere here, was voted the best film of 2011 by German film critics.

One of Germany's most important contemporary filmmakers, Dresen will be on hand to introduce both his films, with Q&A sessions to follow the screenings. Christian Emden, associate professor of German Studies at Rice University, considers it a coup that the school was able to snag the director for a two-day stint.

Cloud 9 screens at 7 p.m. on Friday, Stopped on Track at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Both films are in German with English subtitles. Screenings are at Rice University, 6100 Main. For information, visit www.german.rice.edu.

At the other end of the spectrum, Cinema Bomar is screening The Third Reich and Other Fairy Tales. The program includes Invasion of Poland (1939, newsreel footage), Marijuana (with Sonny Bono), Goldilocks and the Three Bears (with real bears) and burlesque footage. These clips and films are the usual fare for Cinema Bomar, which screens 16mm industrial and education films, a sort of monthly Found Footage Film Festival. Taken out of context and decades after they were originally screened, the films take on an absurdist and often laughable tone (although we don't think there'll be much giggling during the Polish invasion).

Cinema Bomar begins at 8:30 p.m. Friday at Domy Books, 1709 Westheimer. For information, visit www.domybooks.com or call 713-523-3669.

Lauren Conrad is in town on Saturday to sign copies of her latest novel, The Fame Game. PR vets might have a thing or two to learn from Conrad; the California native managed to spin a turn on the MTV reality-TV series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County and then later The Hills into a career as a fashion designer and best-selling author.

For Fame Game, Conrad wisely sets her leading character, Madison Parker, in a reality show where she's competing with three other girls for the spotlight and the paparazzi's attention (all of which sounds vaguely familiar). Conrad has already written a best-selling series for young adults.

Conrad appears at 3 p.m. Saturday at Blue Willow Books, 14532 Memorial. For information, visit www.bluewillowbookshop.com or call 281-497-8675.

Saturday is the last day to see the Watercolor Art Society - Houston's 35th Annual International Exhibition. Juror Judi Betts, an internationally acclaimed painter and instructor, selected Jan Ledbetter's portrait of two colorfully dressed Mayan women as this year's winning entry. Ledbetter, from Virginia, earned a cash prize and bragging rights for her effort.

See the first-, second- and third-place winners, and many more works, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at The Watercolor Art Society, 1601 W. Alabama. For information, visit www.watercolorhouston.org or call 713-942-9966.

You can get a taste of the bard on Sunday during Shakespeare on the Green: A Midsummer's Night Dream. Presented by the University of Houston School of Theatre and Dance, the family-friendly comedy A Midsummer Night's Dream is about the marriage of the Duke of Athens, Theseus, and the Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta. The two share the stage with young lovers, a troupe of actors and manipulative fairies.

A Midsummer Night's Dream is one of Shakespeare's most popular plays, and rightfully so.

You can see Shakespeare on the Green at 7 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney. For information, visit www.discovery green.com or call 713-400-7336.

Ruby Yeh contributed to this post.

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