, the filmmaking and artist collective behind Beasts of the Southern Wild
, is holding its inaugural Always For Pleasure festival
Friday and Saturday. It's named for documentary filmmaker Les Blank
's wonderful 1978 film about New Orleans' parades and street culture. Filmmaker Benh Zeitlin says he's always been inspired by Blank's work. His father was a folklorist, and Zeitlin was exposed to Blank's films at an early age.
"[Always for Pleasure] was my first image of New Orleans," Zeitlin says. "I've always thought of it as part of my calling to the city."
A free screening of that film opens events at 7 p.m. Friday at 2735C Toulouse St., the festival's improvised film theater and main party space. The festival includes screenings of short films, a couple of dance parties and a fake wedding on Bayou St. John with both a brass band second line parade and a karaoke second line parade. The festival is honoring its Pleasure Defender of the Year, Levy Easterly. Easterly auditioned for the Court 13 short film Glory at Sea
, and he appeared in Beasts of the Southern Wild
. Zeitlin and Court 13 artists are also fans of the way Easterly decorates his French Quarter home during Carnival and other holidays.
Levy Easterly's French Quarter home.
Festival screenings include rare and unreleased films. One features children and young people dancing by themselves in their homes. Zeitlin describes it as full of amazingly talented dancers and unrestrained joy. The filmmaker was unable to secure rights for some of the music, so it was never released.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
was shot in south Louisiana. It drew four Academy Award nominations, including for best picture, best director and best actress for Quvenzhane Wallis (who stars in Annie, which opens Dec. 19).
Court 13 also produced the short film Glory at Sea
, other shorts and music videos for Big Freedia and others.
Zeitlin is writing a new film project and Court 13 is looking to develop more events and nonfilm projects like the festival.