Jessica Green has been named Artistic Director of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival
Photo: Courtesy of Houston Cinema Arts Festival
Jessica Green, who arrived as artistic director of the Houston Cinema Arts Festival in 2019 and helmed the region’s most prestigious film festival during 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 headquartered in Atlanta and New York, and will continue to do independent film programming.
“I’m super excited for my next chapter with the Chromatic Black Collective and I’m also incredibly excited for the next chapter of Houston Cinema Arts,” Green said via email. “Houston is an absolutely phenomenal city that I have completely fallen in love with and plan to continue supporting in my new endeavor. The Houston Cinema Arts Society is in excellent hands and has such a bright and powerful future ahead of it. A gem of the crown of America’s most diverse and vibrant city.
Green came to Houston from New York where she was the film director of the Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem, a nonprofit founded by a famous nonfiction filmmaker dedicated to the documentary form.
“She has guided the organization through the pandemic, through some very strange times and uncertainties. And it really stepped up,” says Jim Townsend, executive director of the Houston Cinema Arts Society which oversees the festival. “Of course she will be missed.”
No replacement has yet been named, but he says the next festival scheduled for November 10-17 will go ahead as planned. In the meantime, a group is being put together to manage this year’s festival while a search is underway for a new artistic director.
“When we identify the right person, it will be someone with deep programming experience and a connection to Houston who can really facilitate those conversations with our community partners,” Townsend continues.
Townsend says he wants to continue Green’s work liaising with smaller film festivals around town. “We’re playing the role of being a big umbrella where we can push forward what the Houston Latino Film Festival or the new Queer Picture Show is doing, filling the space left by Q-Fest or HAAPIFEST,” Townsend said. “We are doing what we can to grow the film community in Houston.”
Townsend says Green has made a big difference, expanding the reach of the festival in different communities across the city. He said she proved that “we don’t just show great movies and throw parties for philanthropists to hang out, but rather we are in a lively and ever-changing conversation with our community. he says. “It was really exciting for the Houston Cinema Arts Society (to be seen) as a reflection of Houston. They had this outside perspective where they could do it. Houston wasn’t their home, but they saw its potential. .
Under Green, the festival expanded beyond expected venues like the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and Rice Cinema to various locations around the city, including the DeLuxe Theater in Fifth Ward and Moonstruck Drive-In in the East End and the Showboat Drive-In at Hockley. .
It also highlighted films related to Southeast Texas by screening titles such as: “Mogul Mowgli” with Riz Ahmed and directed by Bassam Tariq of Houston: “Red Rocket”, which was shot in Texas City and Galveston; “Friday, I’m in Love: A Night at Numbers”, the documentary about 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 festivals on the planet by Moviemaker Magazine.