There has been no shortage of first-rate films examining the death penalty in recent decades, from Errol Morris’ groundbreaking documentary The Thin Blue Line to Tim Robbins’ powerful Dead Man Walking. Overtly or not, these films mostly build arguments against capital punishment, which can limit their reach as the films typically wind up preaching to the converted.
With his absorbing prison drama Apprentice, Singaporean filmmaker Boo Junfeng hopes to add new perspectives to the debate. In interviews, the 33-year-old Junfeng has stated his unequivocal opposition to the death penalty. (Singapore’s laws dictated mandatory death sentences for those convicted of drug trafficking as well as murder, a practice that continues today with a few circumstance-specific exceptions.) For his film, the writer-director identified two groups of people whose voices have not been a part of the discussion: the families of those executed — who often are consumed by their own guilt and shame — and those charged with carrying out the executions.
The New Orleans Museum of Art's "Friday Nights at NOMA" film series continues tonight with the first of three Venice-based films screened in conjunction with the museum's exhibition A Life of Seduction: Venice in the 1700s. Tonight it's 1997 romantic drama The Wings of a Dove at 7:30 in the Stern Auditorium. The screening will be preceded by a short lecture on the film from UNO associate professor Laszlo Fulup, who curated the series.
Also tonight are family friendly "Art of the Spot" activities from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.; music by all-female jazz band The BellaDonnas from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and “Masks and Identity in Casanova’s Venice,” a lecture by James H. Johnson at 6 p.m.
The series continues with screenings of Death in Venice on April 21 and Don't Look Now on May 19. More information is here.
The Broad Theater (636 N. Broad St.) presents a showcase of short films by New Orleans film collective DumbSmart Industries on Friday, March 24 at 7 p.m. On the program are three short films written and directed by Nicholas Manuel Pino and Alejandro de los Rios: Richie Broke, Jalapeño Andretti, and Joe & Josie. The collective recently earned widespread attention for its Big Freedia-starring commercial for local attorney Juan LaFonta. DumbSmart will be on hand for a post-screening reception at the theater's bar featuring a surprise musical guest. Tickets are available here.
There’s no medium like documentary film for bringing little-known subcultures out of the shadows and into the light of an unsuspecting world. More than 25 years ago, Jennie Livingston’s landmark Paris Is Burning fulfilled that promise with a poignant portrait of New York City’s ball culture, in which gay and transgender people of color stage elaborate competitions featuring their own style of dance-and-modeling performance. Soon after the release of that film, the style was further popularized (or appropriated, depending on your point of view) by Madonna with her smash hit “Vogue.”
Though not an official sequel, director Sara Jordeno’s Kiki returns to the still-thriving ball community of New York City. The kiki scene is a subset of the ball scene, and one inhabited by kids as young as 12 up to young adults in their early 20s. Like the mostly older denizens of the ball scene depicted in Paris Is Burning, kiki participants affiliate themselves with “houses” that provide mentorship, team training for the competitions and a support network intended to mitigate the racism and homophobia they live with daily — even in a city as relatively open-minded and tolerant as New York.
Shotgun Cinema and artist, animator and musician Martha Colburn will present a program of Colburn's innovative stop-motion animation at the New Orleans Photo Alliance (1111 St. Mary St.) on Saturday night, March 18 at 8:00 p.m. Described as "Monty Python meets Hieronymus Bosch," Colburn's films are part of the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection. Tickets are $6 and $5 for Photo Alliance members. Click here for more information.
The Alvar Library (913 Alvar St.) will present a free public screening of Maya Angelou: And I Still Rise on March 23 at 6 p.m in honor of Women's History Month. The documentary premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and is the first feature-length film about the celebrated poet and civli rights activist. It includes new interviews with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Common, Oprah Winfrey and others. More information is here.
What makes a really good popcorn movie? There’s no formula for the finely crafted, imaginative, escapist entertainment many of us find appealing, whatever our tastes in film. The best popcorn movies don’t take themselves too seriously but do maintain a strong sense of fun, all while finding purpose in larger-than-life characters and exotic, often fantastic worlds.
With its tale of an outsized ape ruling an undiscovered, primordial land in the tropical South Pacific, director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ Kong: Skull Island would seem an almost too-literal fulfillment of that figurative ideal. But Vogt-Roberts defies the odds with a weirdly inspired and entertaining reboot of the 84-year-old King Kong story.
Tulane University’s Newcomb Art Museum will present two free screenings of classic films next week in conjunction with its art exhibition, Mickalene Thomas: Waiting on a Prime-Time Star, which brings together more than 40 works by an artist noted for examining femininity, sexuality and gender.
Black Girl, a 1966 film directed by “father of African cinema” Ousmane Sembene, will screen on Sunday, March 12 at 1:30 p.m. at the Freeman Auditorium in Tulane’s Woldenberg Art Center. Mickalene Thomas’ short Happy Birthday to a Beautiful Woman will also be screened.
Charles Burnett’s legendary film Killer of Sheep will screen on Wednesday, March 15 at 7:30 p.m also at the Freeman Auditorium. The film portrays Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood during the 1970s. More info here and here.
Until last week, only three directors had won a Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award more than once: Federico Fellini, Ingmar Bergman and Vittorio De Sica, all of whom easily rank among the all-time great filmmakers. The fourth director to join that exclusive club is Iran’s Asghar Farhadi, who won his second Oscar in that category for The Salesman. Farhadi’s A Separation won the award in 2012.
The director chose not to attend this year’s Oscars (though he knew an historic award was possible) to protest the U.S. ban on travelers from Iran and six other Muslim-majority nations. But he made a fascinating choice for who would accept his award and explain his absence to the world.
Speaking for Farhadi were two Iranian-Americans, former NASA scientist Firouz Naderi and tech executive Anousheh Ansari, the first Iranian in space and first female space tourist. The message sent by their presence appeared almost whimsical — that national borders disappear with benefit of the literally global perspective from space. That interpretation might seem a stretch if associated with any filmmaker other than Farhadi, but empathy and respect for perspectives other than one’s own are the subjects of virtually all the director’s work.
Louisiana and Texas native Fallon Young has been appointed executive director of the New Orleans Film Society (NOFS). Young replaces Jolene Pinder, who stepped down from the executive director role at the end of last year. Fallon served as director of communications and community engagement at San Francisco's SOMArts Cultural Center. NOFS programming director Clint Bowie has been promoted to artistic director, and John Desplas will remain as artistic director emeritus.
You matter, great opinion
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The location of the festival seems like it should have been mentioned in the article.
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