To mark the silver anniversary of the New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF), organizers at the New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) have planned the largest festival to date, including 237 films, visiting filmmakers and stars, workshops, panel discussions, parties and more. The opening night presentation is the U.S. premiere of the New Orleans-shot drama Black and White, and director Mike Binder will attend. Closing night features the world premiere of The Big Beat, Joe Lauro's documentary about Fats Domino and producer Dave Bartholomew's early years working together.
Since being founded by a group of friends with an all-volunteer workforce in 1989, NOFF has grown in stature, named one of "25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee" by Moviemaker Magazine in 2012 and 2013.
"That was before every city had a film festival. Twenty-five years is actually kind of a long time, if you look at other festivals," says NOFS Director Jolene Pinder. "It was out of this love and dedication. ... We're continuing that legacy, but it's just become a different organization and a different animal as the industry has grown and as we have more access to resources to make it a destination festival."
The festival includes curated and jury-selected feature films. Some of the highlights include Foxcatcher, the chilling sports drama based on the bizarre real-life events involving paranoid schizophrenic millionaire John du Pont (Steve Carell) and Olympic wrestling champion brothers (Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo). Director Bennett Miller won Best Director following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.
In The Imitation Game, Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing, a British mathematician and cryptologist who broke Nazi codes during World War II. After the war, rather than being hailed as a hero, he was prosecuted for being gay, which Britain had criminalized. Also among the offerings are Sundance Film Festival favorites Dear White People, a satire focusing on four overachieving black students at a fictitious Ivy League university in a supposedly post-racial era, and Whiplash, about a struggling young jazz musician and his intense instructor.
The Great Invisible is an award-winning documentary about the BP oil disaster told through the stories of those surviving its impact, including rig workers and Gulf Coast residents. Director Alex Glustrom's Big Charity chronicles the history and closing of New Orleans' Charity Hospital.
There is a slate of films with musical subjects, including director John Brewer's biopic B.B. King: The Life of Riley. Big Star: Live in Memphis features Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens and members of the Posies performing a half revival/half tribute Big Star show in the 1990s. Jingle Bell Rocks! explores the niche of offbeat holiday music from bands and figures including The Flaming Lips and John Waters.
The Marquee Screening Series at the Joy Theater showcases nine films with Louisiana connections. The festival also features showcases of short live action and animated films, documentaries and experimental films. Screenings take place at venues across the city. Visit the website for schedule and details.