From October 14 to 22 at venues across New Orleans, The New Orleans Film Society presents the 26th Annual New Orleans Film Festival. There are 173 selections from the festival’s open call for submissions from independent filmmakers, in addition to more than a dozen movies that have acquired distribution. Submissions were received from 100 countries.
This year is the first time the fest will serve as an Oscar-qualifying festival in the category of documentary shorts. The winner of the short documentary jury award will qualify to be nominated for an Academy Award.
The opening night (Oct. 14) film is Born to Be Blue, starring Ethan Hawke and filmed at Plantation Village Studios near New Orleans. Hawke plays troubled jazz legend Chet Baker as he attempts to make a comeback in the late 60s. The newly restored Orpheum Theater will host the event. Another Louisiana-filmed biopic with a high-profile screening is I Saw the Light, starring Tom Hiddleston as Hank Williams, Sr. and filmed at Millennium Studios in Shreveport (the date has yet to be announced, but the venue will also be the Orpheum).
At the venerable Prytania Theater, the closing night (Oct. 22) film is Brooklyn, starring Saoirse Ronan and written by acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Nick Hornby. It’s a romantic coming-of-age story about an Irish immigrant in 1950s New York City. It’s played at a few other film festivals already this year, and the buzz is very positive.
Director Todd Haynes earned raves in 2002 for his period romance Far From Heaven about an unlikely bond between a white woman and an African-American man in segregated America. Haynes travels to 50s New York City with Carol (Oct. 16, the Prytania), a story about two women (Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara) who fall in love. Blanchett and Mara are both considered favorites to earn Oscar nominations for their performances.
Tom Hardy is riding a wave of critical acclaim following the rapturous reception Mad Max: Fury Road received in May. In Legend (Oct. 18, the Prytania), he plays the Kray Brothers, twins who terrorized London’s underworld in the 1960s.
Fans of the band Arcade Fire will want to check out The Reflektor Tapes (Oct. 17, the Orpheum), a documentary on the making of the band’s album Reflektor. Lead singer Win Butler will DJ at the screening’s after-party at The Red House.
As always, there will be a wide variety of feature-length films and shorts submitted by local filmmakers.
Delta Justice: The Islenos Trappers War (dir. David DuBos) is a documentary detailing a violent fight over St. Bernard Parish land that was filled with muskrat, an animal whose fur was worth a lot of money. Indigenous Islenos clashed with local political bigwig Leander Perez and his hired guns over the real estate.
The King of New Orleans (dir. Allen Frederic) gives character actor David Jensen a chance to shine. You’ve probably seen Jensen in small roles in a number of major films (Looper, The Mist, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), but here he plays the lead, a lonely middle-aged cab driver who interacts with a wide variety of locals and tourists in the years before and after Hurricane Katrina.
All-access passes are already available for purchase at www.new-orleansfilmfestival.org. On October 1, tickets will become available for all-access pass holders and members of the New Orleans Film Society’s Producers Circle and Quarter Century Club. Tickets will be available for purchase by New Orleans Film Society members on the Oct. 7. On Oct. 12, tickets go on sale to the general public.