Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Happy Holidays from Aurora Picture Show!

Happy Holidays from Delicia, Rachel, Mary, Camilo, Guy & Tara!

We hope all of you are enjoying a wonderful holiday season. As usual, the Aurora family has been so busy popping up cinemas across Houston, hosting coffee talks with emerging artists, hobnobbing with future filmmakers, and keeping up with avant-garde (those kids are crazy), we barely have time to sit down and write this. But it was an exciting year and we know that everyone cherishes these annual holiday letters.

A quick update on the family:

Camilo seems to be liking his latest job assignment - "to finish all the leftovers". Just so you know, the second shelf is his. He continues to complain that we do not provide enough savory treats, so we ordered him some pepperoni pizzas when he spent three weeks at Aurora Boot Camp with thirty-six tweens and teens ALL DAY LONG. He survived unscathed and went on to host classes from most of Houston's university art education programs at the Aurora Video Library, not to be mention still being the only one who really knows how to make sound come out of our speakers and put video on our screens.

We are so proud of our Rachel too, she has finally quit drinking at work - sodas of course. Our resident food truck expert no doubt, she has lead the Aurora team to victory on over twelve free outdoor public screenings this year, complete with pedal parties, live music, and balloon arches, not to mention the countless other screenings, fundraisers, and events this year. Just please don't mention that Willie/rain thing to her... still has her torn up inside.

Mary helps keep the women in the office well-supplied with chocolate candies, much to the dismay of Camilo. Not only has she had sweet success with her personal art endeavors, but she has also proven that no one compares to her when it comes to curating custom shorts programs and one-of-kind live cinema performances like Luke Savisky's —a night that included a lot of sweat, six projectors, 4 cameras, and multiple projections on grain silos over 60 feet tall. And she still looked cute afterwards.

Delicia is just rocking the whole motherhood balancing act, and even with bouts of "mommy brain," she makes sure that Aurora walks the fine line between classy style and raunchy fun. She even has the other ladies thinking about wearing red lipstick in the new year. But we all know that only the one who rocks the grant deadlines deserves that honor.

The most recent addition of Tara has been seamless. She leaped into the Aurora family 100%, putting on her prom dress when instructed, hitting the streets to sell Aurora memberships and raffle tickets, and always making sure to gather the gang for the perfect "say cheese" moments.

Guy, well he's our guy. No request seems over the top for him, from photo back-drop creation to constructing scaffolding, he is our go-to guy and the first person we all want to share a Saint Arnold brew with at our events.

We also have news from Aurora's first lady Andrea, who is multitasking trudging through the Pittsburgh snow, blogging for Glasstire, completing her Warhol Research fellowship, and working on a desk-wide exhibition ( all while missing her Aurora comrades. Good thing she is the holder of the warmest fruitcake recipe in the South.

Couldn't be prouder of the little Aurora tikes this year - all growing up so fast - and proving their selves and their talents every day. Especially, since, while the family sure knows how to stretch a dollar, this year has been especially rough year for us.

In fact, we hate to ask, but if any of you have anything you could spare in the way of a gift to Aurora this holiday season, it would sure make us all do a special thank you dance and bask in the knowledge that we can make 2011 an even greater year of offerings for Houston and beyond.

Wishing you the most cinematic of holidays,

The Aurora Gang

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Each month Aurora Picture Show hosts a free educational video salon with a visiting curator and/or artist at the Aurora Picture Show Video Library. In November we were lucky enough to have artist, Peter Lucas join us. Lucas facilitated a one-hour discussion on the history of title sequences in film, which included sample excerpts from some popular titles.

Lucas presented a primer on those dynamic, first few minutes of the featured films that set the stage. At their best, these movie appetizers were great short films in and of themselves, combining elements of typography, animation, visual effects, still and live-action photography, music and sound, and clever editing. While it's largely ignored in historic overviews of both cinema and design, Lucas explained, this fringe history of creative, efficient, and often experimental movie intros have had a great impact on contemporary film, art and motion graphics. 

Lucas screened a selection of opening sequences that were created in the 1950s and 60s- the "golden age"- and discussed the interdisciplinary history. The clips that Lucas brought for us are listed below, along with their You Tube links (if they are available) in case you missed the salon.

      Kreise (Circles) (1933) Short film by Oskar Fischinger

      Man with the Golden Arm (1955)  Saul Bass 

      Anatomy of a Murder (1959) Saul Bass

      Psycho (1960) Saul Bass

      Vertigo (1958) Saul Bass

      North by Northwest (1959) Saul Bass         

      Ocean’s Eleven (1960) Saul Bass         

      Dr. No (1962) Maurice Binder

      Charade (1963) Maurice Binder

      From Russia With Love (1963) Robert Brownjohn

      Goldfinger (1964)  Robert Brownjohn

      Nine Hours To Rama (1963) Saul Bass

      Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) Wayne Fitzgerald

      Dr. Strangelove… (1963) Pablo Ferro        

      To Kill A Mockingbird (1962) Stephen Frankfurt

      Seconds (1966) Saul Bass

      Alfie (end titles) (1966) Vic Singh & Harri Peccinotti       

      Billion Dollar Brain (1967) Maurice Binder

      Thomas Crown Affair (1968) Pablo Ferro

We want to thank the Brown Foundation for their support and Peter Lucas for coming and educating us on this fascinating topic. Aurora is proud to generate meaningful discussions that provide context and encourage media literacy. 

To all who missed November's salon, we hope to see you in December! Check our calendar!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Tips from Marcy Garriott

The Aurora staff were thrilled to host independent documentary filmmaker Marcy Garriott from Austin, this past Sunday. Marcy joined us for a dialogue on the challenges and rewards of independent documentary filmmaking, drawing on her 10 years of experience to cover topics such as selection of subject matter, production tips, collaboration & creativity, finding the story structure, and festivals & marketing. In addition to showing clips from some of her films -- Inside the Circle, and The Least of These; she also shared some useful resources for indie documentary makers out there. Here are some of Marcy's picks:

Directing the Documentary by Michael Rabiger

Documentary Storytelling for Film and Video Makers by Sheila Curran Bernard

Trust the Process: An Artist’s Guide to Letting Go by Shaun McNiff

I Wake Up Screening: What to Do Once You’ve Made That Movie by Laura Kim

Story by Robert McKee

The Complete Independent Movie Marketing Handbook by Mark Steven Bosko

Other useful sites she mentioned were the following:

Austin Film Society- “Docs-in-Progress” and “Narratives-n-Progress” programs. PLUS TFPF grants.
The Independent- print and web-based magazine
Independent Documentary Association
Independent Film Project
Center for Social Media- source of Fair Use Best Practices

Hope this is helpful for those who could not make it and stay tuned for Aurora's next Video Salon on "Title Designs in Film" with curator Peter Lucas in November.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Fall Interns Rock Aurora!

As another semester at Aurora has come and gone, we have welcomed a new intern, but we have been so busy with all things Aurora that we have not had a moment to share all the changes in our internship program.  Since last semester we have promoted Tara to a part-time position as our Membership Associate and given a going away pizza party for Summer intern Ariana, but we are not done there. We have had two other changes in our intern army.

Ashley remains with us for another semester in an advanced intern position as an apprentice helping us with all our non-profit responsibilities, and even learning more about development.  She keeps our sweet tooth happy and brightens our day with her smiles and yellow dresses.

We are also pleased to welcome Sinai Tirado to our team.  Sinai relocated along with her family to Houston at a young age from her native country of Venezuela, but continues to retain the festive tendencies, salsa loving, and flavorful traits of her culture. When not working on video and independent film projects, she spends her time stomping away to the passionate beats of flamenco music, trying new restaurants around the city, or making plans to travel. Her goal is to one day intertwine her love of media and travel to collaborate in various production projects around the world.

Not sure what we would do without these lovely ladies helping us out at events, especially Media Archeology where they glistened alongside the staff with all the set-up needs.

Thank you Ashley and Sinai! We miss you Ariana!  Belated congratulations to Tara too!  Our interns really do rock.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Aurora Curator Mary Magsamen Receives TFPF Grant for Hillerbrand and Magsamen project

Congratulations are in order to Aurora curator Mary Magsamen and her husband Stephan Hillerbrand. The artist duo received one of thirty-three grants awarded by the Austin Film Society's Texas Filmmaker's Production Fund for their latest video work "Four Place Setting." The fund that began in 1996 has given away over 1.1 million over the years and this year gave away a total of $111,000 in cash and goods to Texas filmmakers. If you missed the recent exhibit of "Four Place Setting" in Houston, you'll hopefully have another chance soon as the artist duo will be using funds to distribute the work to festivals around the country. So look for it at a festival near you!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Not short of a good time at Extremely Shorts

As June comes to a close, another Aurora anniversary passes (13 years and counting) and Aurora staff put away the karaoke mics, picnic tablecloths, and voting ballots for our annual Extremely Shorts festival. We'd like to send out a special thanks to our juror Donald Harrison from Ann Arbor Film Festival who endured the sauna-like Houston weather, a surprisingly loud visitor at 1 a.m. Saturday, and sing-a-long peer pressure (resulting in a great rendition of "Common People") for this year's fest. All that and he still left the Aurora staff brownies. And congratulations to this year's Audience Choice Winners of Extremely Shorts: (1) La Pinata by Manuel Arija, (2) Short Stitched by Jenalia Moreno (2) and (3) Bulldozer by Melissa Hung (who also happens to the curator behind Aurora's annual Slant Film Festival). Your checks are already in the mail. Thanks to Aurora's ever-kind sponsors for the event including Saint Arnold Brewing Company, Ruggles Green, Whole Foods Market Houston, Tony Mandola's, Brasil, Carlos Lama, Molly Gochman, and Aztec Rentals. See you all next year - we are already plotting for more shorts, more songs, and more beer, naturally.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Meet our Summer Interns

Each semester, Aurora Picture Show recruits aspiring media arts leaders through our internship program. Interns are integral to the Aurora team and provide much needed support for the many programs that we host. In exchange, Aurora offers hands-on experience and guidance for their ambitions beyond the time in our office.

This Summer, we invited three interns to join our ranks and they have already proven themselves worthy by helping us with all kinds of projects ranging from administrative duties to curatorial assistance. Come and meet Ariana Reyes, Ashley Powell and Tara Roach at an upcoming event where they will be learning the "nomadic-cinema ropes."


Ari Reyes is a quirky writer and digital media artist. She roams the halls of the School of Art at the University of Houston as a Photography/Digital Media student. When not laboriously designing sets for her films, she is found chasing neighborhood cats and hunting down new coffee and tea houses around town. She spends her working days as an academic advisor at Lonestar College and can always be found awake, at the hour that most choose to sleep, catching up on the latest bestsellers. Her work in stop motion animation is her excuse for why she must watch cartoons; her addiction to cereal is just inexplicable. When she heard about the Aurora Picture Show, she quickly grew an attachment and was encouraged by many to apply for an internship, which she was thankfully awarded.


My name is Ashley Powell, and I am a Senior at the University of Houston at Clear Lake. My major is Public Service Leadership, which is a fancy name for Non-Profit and Governmental Agency Management. The choice to study under this program has given me many wonderful opportunities, like getting the chance to work as an intern here at the Aurora Picture Show. I absolutely love working here! My skills within the areas of management, marketing, and interpersonal relations are flourishing! I also get to learn a lot of awesome things about the film industry from our awesome staff members! I feel so lucky to have this internship with such an amazing organization with a sush a strong mission and dedication!!


Having spent the majority of her childhood in such diverse locations as Scotland and Virginia, Tara recently came to rest in Houston, which is warmer than the other places she has called “home”. She is in her senior year at the University of Houston, studying Photography and Digital Media, and she has a deep and abiding love for video art. When she is not assisting Aurora with sorting, cataloging, and other vital tasks, she loves to cook, swim, hike and take photos. Her dream is to one day run a bunny rescue.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Story Pirates Were Here

The Aurora staff are rejuvinated after a truly exhilirating weekend with The Striking Viking Story Pirates. This talented team of New York actors and performers make it their mission to celebrate the words and ideas of young people, and they do so by working with kids in public schools and at special events to create original stories that the Pirates then perform for the young authors, and young writers across the nation. Aurora's action-packed Pirate weekend included a public performance Saturday afternoon, a one-on-one workshop with the Pirates and twelve 6-10 year olds on Sunday, and two performances at Woodrow Wilson Montessori on Monday morning. In a special collaboration with Writers in the Schools, students enrolled in the WITS after school program at Wilson Elementary wrote a story, "Puppies in the Pound" in preparation for their visit and sent it to the Pirates in advance of their performance. The students then got to see it their own story performed by the Pirates at their school. Two other Wilson Montessori classes also participated with stories that came to life on stage before their eyes. Aurora Picture Show would like to thank Woodrow Wilson Montessori, the Texas Commission on the Arts, and Writers in the Schools for making the Story Pirates' Houston visit such a huge success. For videos from these inspiring kids and adults, click here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Aurora's Curator Featured at Fusebox

As Austin's annual contemporary art and performance festival, Fusebox, gears up for its week-long set of performances, installations and more (April 21-May 2), Aurora's stellar curator Mary Magsamen packs her bags and prepares for her own performance as part of Blender Love, with her husband and collaborative partner Stephan Hillerbrand and collaborator Kirk Lynn of the Rude Mechs. Hillerbrand and Magsamen take Austin by storm with their "modern day séance for cell phones using interactive performance and live cinema" next Thursday night, April 22. If you live anywhere near Austin, or just need an excuse to go to Austin, be sure to see this extraordinary performance.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Glasstire Interview with Aurora's Visiting Artists

Aurora founder Andrea Grover interviews artists Jennifer and Kevin McCoy for Glasstire in anticipation of Aurora's screening tomorrow night entitled Co-Existing and Co-llaborating. Read the full article here and come to the show!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

David Waddell's Recent Salon at Aurora

For those of you who did not make the Menil Community Art Festival, Aurora hosted a salon with local artist, David Waddell on stop motion animation. Waddell is also one of the instructors for Aurora's Summer Boot Camp. Click here for a quick clip from the salon.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Reports from the SXSW front

The Aurora gals are fresh from their pilgrimage to Austin and the SXSW Film Festival with news and new friends to report on. Great to meet and see in Austin were fellow jurors (for the Time Warner Cable and Ovation TV Young Filmmaker Award) Bart Weiss (who has screened his Dallas VideoFest at Aurora numerous times), Marcy Garriot (accomplished documentary filmmaker behind the film Inside the Circle), our favorite East Coast organizational crush, Rootop Films, and our favorite West Coast friends, Wholphin, not to mention several of our Houston neighbors including artist Kelly Sears, Microcinema International, SWAMP, and Houston Film Commission, and the filmmakers behind the Anderson Fair documentary For the Sake of the Song. A highlight of the trip was Aurora founder Andrea Grover's panel on Indirect Collaboration: Collective Creativity on the Web, and though we missed these, we wish we had been able to see Matt McCormick's (who appeared at Aurora with the You Are Here seminar curated by Bree Edwards) film Some Days Are Better Than Others, and our Texas Filmmaker Production Fund Workshop Host Bryan Poyser's (of Austin Film Society) new film Lovers of Hate. If any of our readers are Austin-bound, you still have opportunities to catch some of these films in their final screenings. See the full schedule here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Aurora at Fotofest

If you didn't know already, Aurora's talented curator, Mary Magsamen, is a well known artist in her own right. Her and her husband, Stephan Hillerbrand, form the video art duo Hillerbrand and Magsamen and have a nation-wide exhibition history including exhibitions at the Butler Institute of American Art, the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia and being accepted into the Ann Arbor Film Festival multiple times. They are currently presenting four new videos in the Houston FotoFest exhibition titled, "4 Place Setting." The show runs from March 12-April 10 and the opening reception is April 1st from 6-8pm at the Spacetaker Gallery, 2101 Winter Street.

Magsamen is doing double duty for Fotofest as she has also curated the Aurora Fotofest Screening entitled "Co-Existing and Co-llaborating," featuring six collaborative teams of media artists including Jennifer and Kevin McCoy, Darrin Martin and Jamil Hellu, Potter Belmar Labs, Duke and Battersby, Voshart and Humphries and Dana and Travis Hanmer. More on these artists and this event here

Hope you'll join both Mary and Aurora on the Fotofest tour and stop by both events if you can!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Works by Gary Hill, Pierre Huyghe, William Kentridge and Pipilotti Rist added to the Aurora Video Library

The Aurora staff are very excited about our new library acquisition, Point Of View: An Anthology of the Moving Image.  Come to our library at 1524 Sul Ross to see these amazing works that you can't see anywhere else in Houston! 

Point Of View: An Anthology of the Moving Image
is a DVD series that features eleven leading artists from different generations and cultural perspectives, who are among the most important artists working in film, video, and digital imagery today: Francis Alys , David Claerbout, Douglas Gordon, Gary Hill, Pierre Huyghe, Joan Jonas, Isaac Julien, William Kentridge, Paul McCarthy, Pipilotti Rist, and Anri Sala.

The anthology includes eleven separate DVDs in a boxed set. Each DVD features a newly-commissioned work; an in-depth interview with the artist conducted by Dan Cameron, senior curator for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, curator Hans Ulrich Obrist of the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, or Richard Meyer, Associate Professor, Department of Art History, University of Southern California; an image library of the artist's previous work; and bibliographical material.

If you or your school would like to arrange a special viewing, please make a reservation with our lovely, learned Media and Education Library Guru, Camilo Gonzalez (  Special thanks to the Brown Foundation for their support of our Video Library.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ten Best Latin American Films of the Decade

This weekend we had a great video salon discussion with curator and film critic Margarita De La Vega-Hurtado at our office where we explored the history and diversity of Latin American Cinema. At the conclusion of the salon, Margarita mentioned that Cinema Tropical had compiled a list of the Top Ten Latin American Films of the Decade (2000-2009), based on a survey of distinguished critics, scholars and film professionals based in the New York City area.
In all, 124 films representing 14 Latin American countries were nominated for the distinction of being Best of the Decade, demonstrating the great quality and diversity of films from the region.
Therefore here is the TOP 10 and the link to the rest of the films:

1)La Ciénaga (2001) Lucrecia Martel, Argentina
2)Amores Perros (2000) Alejandro González Iñárritu, Mexico
3)Luz Silenciosa / Silent Light (2007), Carlos Reygadas, Mexico
4)Cidade de Deus / City of God (2002), Fernando Meirelles, Brazil
5)Ônibus 174 / Bus 174 (2002), Jose Padilha, Felipe Lacerda, Brazil
6)Y Tu Mamá También, Alfonso Cuarón, Mexico
7)Whisky (2004), Juan Pablo Rebella, Pablo Stoll, Uruguay
8)La mujer sin cabeza / The Headless Woman (2008), Lucrecia Martel, Argentina
9)La niña santa / The Holy Girl (2004), Lucrecia Martel, Argentina
10)El laberinto del fauno / Pan's Labyrinth (2006), Guillermo del Toro, Mexico

To see more images of the salon visit our Flickr page.