A second line with Steve McQueen, Lupito Nyong’o, and Chiwetel Ejiofor of “12 Years a Slave” following the opening night of the 2013 New Orleans Film Festival. (photo courtesy of New Orleans Film Festival)
The 27th iteration of the New Orleans Film Festival is set to launch this week with the locally filmed LBJ, a political docudrama directed by Rob Reiner and starring Woody Harrelson and Jennifer Jason Leigh as the acclaimed presidential couple. The Festival announced that both Reiner and Harrelson will be in attendance for the opening night red-carpet event held at the historic Orpheum Theater on Wednesday, October 12th.
The emergence of New Orleans as a cinematic hub has allowed the New Orleans Film Festival to not stray too far from its home in the selection of its opening night film. In recent years, the festival has opened with Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave and Kevin Costner’s Black and White. Both films were predominantly filmed within New Orleans and the surrounding parishes of Louisiana.
The Film Festival has cast an eclectic lineup to match the configuration of its host city. Notable films within the lineup include:
Lion, follows a young man’s search to find his family some twenty-five years after becoming lost within a crowded city thousand of kilometers from home. This early festival favorite is the first feature film from Garth Davis (Top of the Lake) and stars Dev Patel, Rooney Mara, and Nicole Kidman.
Manchester by the Sea, a familial drama from director Kenneth Lonergan, marking his first film since 2011’s Margaret. Starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams, this film has already generated buzz as an potential Oscar contender.
The Book of Life, another New Orleans-based film directed by Bill Purple, stars Jason Sudeikis, Maisie Williams, and Jessica Biel. Biel will also be in attendance for the film’s premier.
Moonlight, chronicles the life of a man who struggles to find his niche within the racially catalyzed world. Directed by Barry Jenkins and starring Mahershala Ali (House of Cards), this film has received high-acclaim since it’s premier at the Telluride Festival.
Contemporary Color, a documentary film from the Ross Brothers that captured a one-time musical performance led by David Byrne that planted its cinematographic roots from the creativity and the artistic symbolism of the Color Guard.
Five Awake, directed by Susan Willis and Donald Dees, this Louisiana documentary pictorials an advocated outcry for domestic violence legislation in Louisiana.
Multiple Maniacs, a restoration of the 1970’s classic film from John Walters.
I am Not Your Negro, the James Baldwin inspired documentary film from director Raoul Peck will also serve as the festival’s centerpiece offering.
The New Orleans Film Festival has surfaced as one of the premier regional film festivals in the United States, offering highly-pedigreed and local filmmakers alike a forum to showcase their films in an eclectic and engraving environment. The festival offers a diverse platform – the film selection includes narrative and documentary features, short-films, animated shorts, Caribbean cinema, Louisiana-based features, music videos, and experimental film categories. The festival also hosts numerous events throughout the city in addition to the film core. These range from parties and receptions to panels and roundtables hosted by members in the industry.