Houston Cinema Arts Festival artistic director Jessica Green is leaving

Jessica Green has been named the artistic director of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival

Photo: Courtesy Houston Cinema Arts Festival

Jessica Green, who arrived as artistic director for the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in 2019 and led the region’s most prestigious film fest through the pandemic, is leaving to return to the East Coast. She will be the artistic director of the Chromatic Black Collective, a national organization for Black artists with headquarters in Atlanta and New York City, and will continue to do some independent film programming.

“I’m super excited for my next chapter with the Chromatic Black Collective and I’m also incredibly excited for Houston Cinema Arts’ next chapter,” Green said via e-mail. “Houston is an absolutely phenomenal city that I have completely fallen in love with, and plan on continuing to support in my new project. The Houston Cinema Arts Society is in excellent hands and has such a continued, bright, powerful future ahead of it. A jewel in the crown of America’s most diverse and dynamic city.”

Green came to Houston from New York City where she was the cinema director of the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, a non-profit founded by noted non-fiction film director devoted to the documentary form.

“She shepherded the organization through the pandemic, through very strange times and uncertainty. And she really stepped up,” says Jim Townsend, executive director for the Houston Cinema Arts Society which oversees the festival. “Of course, she’ll be missed.”

No replacement has yet been named but he says that the next festival set for Nov. 10-17 will go on as planned. In the interim, a group is being put together to handle this year’s festival while a search is being conducted for a new artistic director.

“When we identify the right person, it;s going to be somebody with some great programming experience and some connection to Houston, that can really facilitate these conversations with our community partners,” Townsend continues.

Townsend says he wants to continue Green’s work in liaising with smaller film festivals around town. “We are serving the role of being a big umbrella where we can advance what Houston Latino Film Festival is doing or the new Queer Picture Show, occupying the space that Q-Fest left behind or HAAPIFEST,” Townsend says. “We’re doing what we can to grow the film community in Houston.”

Townsend says that Green made a big difference, broadening the festival’s reach into the city’s various communities. He said that she proved that, “We’re not just showing great films and having parties so that philanthropists can hang out but instead we’re in a living, constantly evolving conversation with our community,” he says. “It was really exciting for the Houston Cinema Arts Society (to be seen) as being a reflection of Houston. She had that outsider perspective where she could do that. Houston wasn’t her home but she saw its potential.”

Under Green, the festival expanded beyond expected venues like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Rice Cinema to various locations throughout the city including the DeLuxe Theater in Fifth Ward and the Moonstruck Drive-In in East End and the Showboat Drive-In in Hockley.

She also emphasized films with southeast Texas ties by screening such titles as: “Mogul Mowgli” starring Riz Ahmed and directed by Houston’s Bassam Tariq: “Red Rocket,” which was shot in Texas City and Galveston; “Friday, I’m in Love: A Night at Numbers,” the documentary about the Numbers nightclub in Montrose; and “Corpus: A Home Movie for Selena,” a documentary about Selena.

Last year, the Cinema Arts Festival was named one of the coolest film fests on the planet by Moviemaker Magazine.

cary.darling@chron.com

  • Cary Darling

    Cary Darling

    Cary Darling joined the Houston Chronicle in 2017 where he writes about arts, entertainment and pop culture, with an emphasis on film and media. Originally from Los Angeles and a graduate of Loyola Marymount University, he has been a features reporter or editor at the Orange County Register, Miami Herald, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. In addition, he has freelanced for a number of publications including the Los Angeles Times and Dallas Morning News.

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