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The 30th New Orleans Film Festival Puts Diversity & Homegrown Artists Centerstage [Full Festival Guide]

Film Festival

The New Orleans Film Festival is back for its 30th year. Hosted by the New Orleans Film Society, the NOFF runs from October 16th to October 23rd. Eleven different venues will host viewing parties, meet-ups, discussion panels and parties celebrating this year’s flicks. Silver screens all across the Crescent City will play host to a collection of Hollywood handiworks and homegrown pieces alike. 

And if you’re as excited about Film Festival as we are, then you need to read on for the most extensive guide to the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival out there! From films to forums to all the parties, your 2019 New Orleans Film Festival guide is here! 

The New Orleans Film Festival

Since 1989, the New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) has been meeting for the now-annual Film Festival. NOFF has a mission to “discover, cultivate, and amplify diverse voices of filmmakers who tell the stories of our time”. That mission is front-and-center at this year’s festival. Over 220+ films from 550 filmmakers are featured during NOFF’s eight-day run. Likewise, an audience just as large as anticipated. Around 30,000+ attendees are expected to gather for the festival. The stories on display are a varied mix of independent and big-budget films (several of which are seeking Oscar-nods).

Diversity Takes Center Stage

This year’s NOFF has incredible diversity in its representation. Over 6,500 submissions from 106 different countries were received for the 30th annual NOFF. There is something on the lineup for everyone. And, something on the lineup by everyone: 54% of this years’ films were directed by women or non-gender conforming directors, and 56% of the lineup was helmed by a person of color. Respectively, the content is just as expressive. As NOFS Artistic Director Clint Bowie says, “the New Orleans Film Festival serves as an important site of discovery for audiences and filmmakers alike.” The lineup says just as much.

Hollywood Spotlights

There are several movies at this year’s NOFF which are generating Oscar-buzz. The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins (Westworld) & Johnathan Price (Game of Thrones), is a witty biopic about meetings between Pope Benedict and the future Pope Francis. For those interested in something a bit more energetic then conversations from Catholic priests, NOFF presents Ford v. Ferrari. The biopic features Christian Bale and Matt Damon, playing driver Ken Miles and revolutionary car designer Carroll Shelby, respectively. The film takes place in the high-octane world of 1960’s auto-racing, and it’s sure to get a car-junky’s heart pounding like an engine.

Several of the NOFF’s Oscar-seeking films bring the laughs, but their not always the most comfortable. Jojo Rabbit, a dark comedy about a young boy in Hitler’s Youth, features Scarlett Johansson and a strong anti-hate message. Knives Out, directed by Rain Johnson (The Last Jedi) is a comedic murder mystery that follows two detectives (LaKeith Stanfield and Daniel Craig) as they seek answers to a family whodunnit, set on a remote Massachusetts estate. 

Several of these big studio films are not so laughable. These works hold a sharp lens to matters like criminal justice. Clemency, starring Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave), took this year’s Sundance by storm. The story about a prison warden, fighting the psychological demons of her role in carrying out capital punishment. Or, viewers can see Just Mercy. It is the true story of a freshly-minted Harvard lawyer who takes up the case of wrongly convicted Walter McMillian. Set in the deep-South, there is a feeling of being close to home. Featuring Jamie Foxx, Brie Larson, and Michael B. Jordan, the on-screen representation and the crucial nature of the film’s subject matter is a Hollywood product that matches the mission of the New Orleans Film Festival. 


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Watch @JustMercyFilm at @neworleansfilmfestival! Set in Alabama in the 1980s, Just Mercy tells a true story about the trial of an innocent death-row inmate, starring Michael B. Jordan, Brie Larson, and Jamie Foxx, and was helmed by Destin Daniel Cretton (Short Term 12). “Just Mercy will shake you to your soul.” according to @Variety. Individual tickets for #NOFF2019 are now available to book for our members and festival pass holders. Tickets will be on sale for the general public next Monday, September 30th at noon CST. Why wait? Become a member or purchase a pass to start booking your tickets today. You know where the link is!

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The noise and news around these commercial studio productions can be loud. The glam of big-budget films can be bright. But this is the New Orleans Film Festival. Few cities are so good at celebrating their own. At the 30th annual NOFF, it’s the homegrown films that tell the most unique stories, in some of the most creative ways. 

New Orleans Spotlights 

First, is The Long Shadow. A film written and directed by Louisianan Daniel Lafrentz. It tells the story of a female police officer in Pont Minou, Louisiana who is fighting to keep her community from displacement. The Film Festival’s centerpiece, Burning Canewas written and directed by a 19-year-old NOCCA-alum. Phillip Youmans tells the story of troubled love, both familial and religious. Although set amongst the cane field of rural Louisiana, the film has traveled far already. Burning Cane stars Wendell Pierce (Treme, The Wire), and enters the festival after winning Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. AdditionallyYoumans has a short-film, Nairobi, premiering at NOFF.

Sharing the Louisiana lineup is Mossville: When Great Trees Fall. The documentary by Alexander Glustrom discusses environmental racism, right here in our backyard. Up From the Streets is lighter material–a film covering the Crescent City’s rich history through a focus on music. These films are only a few of what the festival offers. And, much like the layers of New Orleans, there is so much to discover. The deeper you look into the lineup, the more diversity you’re sure to find.


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Made in #Louisiana! Watch 28 short films from homegrown talent in 5 different programs. Discover films from both seasoned and emerging local filmmakers. The winner of the Louisiana Shorts Competition will receive Final Draft 10, a @Vimeo Pro account, and Showbiz budgeting software. The jury will also present a Louisiana Narrative Short Cinematography Award worth $10,000 camera package from PRG Paskal – New Orleans. Louisiana Shorts Competition jurors are @rachelraney, Director of National Productions for @publicmedianc and Executive Producer of @reelsouthdocs; #MichelleHamada, Manager of Documentary & Scripted Programs @tribecafilmins; and @mchlgbbns, Director of Marketing and Communications for @creative_capital. Click on the “Lineup” link in our bio to browse and get your tickets for Louisiana Shorts.

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One example is Pier Kids, a documentary about three homeless, black queer youth trying to find stable housing; or Building the American Dream, an expose on the fight for justice within the construction industry of Texas. These inclusive pieces at NOFF are going to make you think. For this reason, the Festival offers beaucoup places for you to talk about all your opinions on the films.

View the full film schedule here.

The Parties Show This Week Is More Than Just Movies

New Orleans Film FestivalWith artistic work comes conversation. The NOFF has plenty of places for filmgoers to catch up and discuss their favorite flicks of the festival. Like all good things, NOFF starts off with a second line to Gallier Hall for the opening party. The Drifter Hotel is the site of a Filmmaker Welcome Party. Here, DJ Nice Rack will hold down the music, while NOLA’s only all drag flag troupe, the Flaming Flagettes, do their thing. Of course, there’s a bounce & hip-hop party: It’s Lit is the celebration of the home-premiere of Burning Cane, soundtracked by traditional club sounds of the city. Other venues, such as the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute, the Ace Hotel, Vintage Rock Club, and the Library will host parties at various times throughout the festival.

Click this link to get up on all NOFF parties.

Film Festival Forums

For those looking to get into the grainy details of filmmaking, NOFF has curated an extensive schedule of talks and discussion. Admission to the panels is free. The instructional lectures take place at the centrally located Gallier Hall. Conversations range from a focus on film-arts to screenwriting exposure, and VR movie experiences. There are discussions about opportunities in public television, the aesthetic element of documentaries, and how to write screenplays. 

New Orleans Film FestivalRoundtable discussions give attendees a chance to speak with industry professionals, hearing their conversational takes on aspects of all things film. From the Queer Fat Artist & Maker Meetup to a crash course on 16mm celluloid film, festival-goers looking to learn a thing or two will have plenty to chose from, or talk about. 

The full forum line-up can be found here.

The Silver Screens

The 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival takes place all over the city, honoring some of the longest standing traditions of movies in New Orleans. The Contemporary Art Center on Camp St. serves as the Festival Hub. From there, venues like the Broad, Prytania, and Orpheum Theatre will display films throughout the festival run. Additionally, several theaters in the CAC will show submissions to NOFF, and will the Blue Theatre at the New Orleans Advocate Building.

The NOFF promises to be a lively time around the city. This year’s submissions deliver relevance. Important stories are being told about these times we live in. New Orleanians are fortunate to have such a strong organization promoting impactful voices in our community. So get your tickets to the 30th annual New Orleans film fest today.  

Have any tips on film and fine arts in New Orleans? Send them to brich@riverbeats.life 


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