Film is one of the most powerful mediums to highlight cultural diversity, and Houston plays host to a myriad of independent film festivals every year. Most of our festivals are homegrown and aim to showcase films rich in both cultural and geographic significance, from places like Palestine and Iran to India and throughout the Latin Diaspora.
If you’re running out of things to binge-watch, consider getting out and attending a festival for a fresh look at films before they hit streaming services. Here are our top film festival choices to keep on your radar. (If you’re a filmmaker, take a chance and submit your work!)
October 15 | Asia Society Texas Center | $20-50
The IFHH spotlights the creations of filmmakers from across the Indian diaspora. This year’s schedule is light, running only one day, but will spotlight the work of filmmaker and multi-hyphenate artist Satyajit Ray (1921-1992). The one-day program features a screening of Ray’s 1964 romantic drama Charulata (The Lonely Wife) and Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players) from 1977.
October 19–22 | Next Actor Studio | TBA
Produced by local drama school Next Actor Studio, this festival presents a great lineup of independent films and is returning for its eighth year. It's unique because it features table readings of scripts by the actors in the drama school along with a slew of documentaries and films.
November 10–17 | TBA | $200
Dubbed one of the 25 coolest film festivals in the world, the Houston Cinema Arts Festival is returning for its 14th year. In collaboration with NASA, CineSpace will make a comeback alongside the new Borders | No Borders short competition and a host of in-person and online programs. Stay tuned for the mid-October rollout of the entire schedule of films and events.
December 2–4 | TBA
Short films and plays by local Latinx filmmakers are the focus of the La Vida Es Cortos Film Festival. It is hosted by the small but mighty team at Houston-based theater arts organization, TEATRX. For its fourth year, the lineup will expand beyond formal films and feature dance and theater performances.
March 18–29, 2023 | Evelyn Rubenstein JCC | TBA
Stories that center Jewish and Israeli culture take the spotlight at this 18-year-old festival. It takes place at multiple venues throughout Houston and has a virtual component that allows fans to tune in online. Events can only be attended with subscription access and require ticket reservations.
April 25–30, 2023 | Cinemark Memorial City | TBA
As the third oldest independent film festival in the world, yes you read that right, WorldFest has helped showcase world class talents in the film industry. In the festival’s 56 year history, filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, the Coen Brothers, David Lynch and more have been awarded. Though the 2022 fest has passed, mark your calendar for next year to sit in the audience of what might be the next big blockbuster.
April 29–30, 2023 | MATCH | TBA
Underwater videography is a unique craft that takes immense skill and dedication. Although this festival is only two years old, its mission to promote films made underwater has made a big splash. The Houston Underwater Photographic Society (aka HUPS) also provides classes and workshop opportunities for aspiring underwater artists year-round.
June 7–10, 2023 | AMC 8 | TBA
For the past six years, this festival has worked to establish Houston as a major site for cinema by showcasing high quality projects by Black filmmakers and producers. Each year, the NBFF kicks off with a mixer and hosts a series of workshops for film professionals to connect and engage.
There are several annual festivals that have yet to set dates for 2023. Keep an eye out for announcements on their official websites: