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Preview: New Orleans Film Festival

A look at some of the 190 films being screened around town during the weeklong fest



The New Orleans Film Festival presents major studio releases and jury-selected features, documentaries and short films. This year, in addition to awards for films in competitive sections, the festival will announce the winner of its first Create Louisiana grant. The $50,000 award, supported by the festival, Deep South Studios and the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, will enable a local filmmaker to make a short movie.

  "It's a chance to invest in taking a filmmaker's career to the next level," says New Orleans Film Society Executive Director Jolene Pinder.

  The film festival increasingly is bridging the divide between independent filmmakers and studio executives and resources. In recent years, Guardians of the Flame Big Chief Brian Harrison Nelson, who made the film Keeper of the Flame, was able to get a development grant to make a full-length movie about Mardi Gras Indian culture, Pinder says. A narrative film in this year's slate, Krisha, is a full-length version of a short film screened in the 2014 festival. Festival staff also have organized filmmaker events including a financing summit with industry executives, a mentorship program for minority filmmakers and other networking and development opportunities.

  For film enthusiasts, the festival has plenty to offer. Roughly 190 films screen at venues across New Orleans and at Chalmette Movies. There also are after-parties; following the screening of Kahlil Joseph's The Reflektor Tapes, about the band Arcade Fire, lead vocalist Win Butler will DJ at a festival party Saturday night at New Orleans Event & Film Studios.

  Festival highlights include opening night at the Orpheum Theatre, featuring Robert Budreau's Born to be Blue. Ethan Hawke stars as trumpeter Chet Baker, struggling to shake addiction and regain his place at the top of the jazz world late in his career. The closing night (Oct. 22) film is Brooklyn, writer Nick Hornby's (High Fidelity, About a Boy) story of a young Irish immigrant in 1950s New York City. Other major releases include I Saw the Light, a Hank Williams biopic filmed in Shreveport. Also shot in Louisiana is Crisis is Our Brand, starring Sandra Bullock and Billy Bob Thornton as rival campaign managers hired to work in a Bolivian election. Post-production work for Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and Duke Johnson's Anomalisa was done in Baton Rouge. The whimsical stop-motion animation film follows a customer service guru who falls for a fellow hotel guest while attending a trade convention.

  The festival presents narrative and documentary works by local filmmakers, and there are slates of films about music and LGBT subjects. The festival created Cine Cubano, a selection of films about Cuba, after many of the films were submitted independently via the open-submission process, says programming director Clint Bowie. There also are feature-length documentaries, including Alex Gibney's profile of Apple founder Steve Jobs and Douglas Tirola's look at The National Lampoon (see page 37 for reviews).

  For a full schedule and details and information about panel discussions and new media workshops in the festival's Cinema Reset program, visit

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