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A&E Feature 

What to Know Before You Go

FILM

Academy Award nominated Animated Short Films
7:30 p.m. Tue., April 8
Contemporary Arts Center, 900 Camp St., 528-3800; www.cacno.org

With all the advancements in digital technology, the Academy Award nominated animated short films from 2007 are a curiously retro bunch. In I Met the Walrus , animator Josh Raskin created a free-associating fluid illustration to match the recording of an odd interview with John Lennon. Jerry Levitan, who was 14 at the time, snuck into the singer's hotel room in 1969 and asked Lennon his thoughts on art, peace and money. The Oscar winner is a Polish claymation version of the Prokofiev classic Peter and the Wolf . Perhaps most enjoyable is a wickedly funny French short (pictured) about a priest who sells machine transport to heaven. He even provides free test drives. Other nominees include a Canadian claymation film about a woman taking a bizarre nighttime train trip and an impressionistic Russian film about a teenage boy with an idealistic notion of pure love who is caught between two imperfect women. Presented by the New Orleans Film Society. Tickets $7 general admission, $5 CAC/NOFS members. — Will Coviello

 

MUSIC

Iron & Wine
8 p.m. Wed., April 9
House of Blues, 225 Decatur St., 310-4999; www.hob.com

Iron & Wine — otherwise known as the beatifically bearded singer/songwriter Sam Beam — has remained mostly silent, musically, since the 2005's Woman King and In the Reins , the latter a collaboration with the band Calexico. His sparse output shows remarkable restraint in an indie-rock climate where the norm has become artists who spill releases like coins from a slot machine. His latest release, The Shepherd's Dog , shows that his lush, hypnotic melodies are worth the wait. Beam's dark and dense guitar owes much to the English psychedelic folkies of the '60s, recalling the haunted sound of Fairport Convention and Nick Drake. The experimental-sound artists Califone, who run vintage Americana through an electronic prog-rock machine, open. Tickets $23. — Alison Fensterstock

FILM

New Orleans Human Rights Film Festival
Wed., April 9-Sun., April 20
Various locations, 827-5858; www.nolahumanrights.org

The New Orleans Human Rights Film Festival screens a large slate of films on a wide array of topics, with a mix of documentaries, features and programs of short films. Works about or from the Middle East range from the Academy Award-winning documentary Taxi to the Dark Side (see "Balcony Seats," p. 51) about the U.S. use of torture to a romantic comedy involving five Lebanese women called Caramel . The long list of locally made films includes a documentary on bounce music, Ya Heard Me (see p. 53), Jason Berry's Vows of Silence about clergy sex-abuse scandals (see p. 53) and many more. Mississippi Chicken (pictured) is about demographic changes in Mississippi when Latino populations grow as workers take jobs in the poultry industry. Other films come from around the globe, from Africa to South America. Film screenings are scheduled for Canal Place, Zeitgeist Multi-disciplinary Arts Center, Prytania Theatre and other locations. See the Web site for a full schedule. Tickets $10 opening night, $8 most other screenings. — Coviello

MUSIC

Jay-Z and Mary J. Blige
7:30 p.m. Wed., April 9
New Orleans Arena, 1501 Girod St., 587-3663

Jay-Z and Beyonce may be hip-hop's undisputed reigning power couple, but romance aside, the rapper/mogul's teaming up with Mary J. Blige (pictured) — the longstanding queen of hip-hop soul — is a blockbuster matchup of two urban-music titans that might only be outsold if Elvis Presley reanimated and toured with Madonna. Jay-Z may have lost his well-publicized 2006 record-sales battle with Kanye West and been called out by the homegrown upstart Lil Wayne, but his stylized flow and big-business persona keep him effortlessly at the top of the heap. (In just more than a decade, he reinvented himself from a Marcy Projects thug into a pocket-square-sporting CEO.) The R&B siren Blige, who was the subject of a two-hour biographical special on BET last week — though her 2007 release had the self-effacing title Growing Pains — has long been afforded her place in the soul pantheon; her name is sometimes spoken in the same sentence as Patti and Aretha. The double bill represents not only a two-headed monster of star power but a longstanding and fruitful collaborative relationship that dates back more than a decade, when Mary J. lent her pipes to Jay-Z's early hit "Can't Stop The Hustle." The 1996 track began with the line, "I'm making short-term goals." Looks like the two were also planning for the long haul. Tickets $47.75. — Fensterstock

click to enlarge KIM BLACK
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