The New Orleans Film Festival announced that the highly anticipated Harriet Tubman biopic Harriet will be its closing night film this year, accompanied by Tribeca Film Fest sensation Burning Cane as the centerpiece film.
Harriet, directed by Kasi Lemmons (Eve's Bayou), tells the story of legendary abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Tubman escaped slavery and risked her life to lead others to freedom via the Underground Railroad. Cynthia Erivo (Widows, Bad Times at the El Royale) stars. Harriet will play on October 23rd at the Orpheum Theater.
Burning Cane, directed by 19-year old NOCCA alum Phillip Youmans, will be the festival's centerpiece film. New Orleanian Wendell Pierce (The Wire, Treme) plays a troubled preacher in rural Louisiana. The film received the "Youth Film Grant" from #CreateLouisiana last year, funded in part by the New Orleans Film Society. Youmans became the youngest and the first African-American director to win the Founder's Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. The centerpiece screening will take place on Saturday, October 18th at the Orpheum.
The festival, in its 30th year, also announced its in competition lineup, which includes 27 feature films from 12 countries. Over 230 films, feature and short, will play at the festival and over 500 filmmakers are expected to attend. The festival reported a record number of submissions this year (6,500 from 104 countries). Films made in the American South represent 50% of this year's lineup and Louisiana-made films account for 26% of the lineup.
"The festival's strong accent on Southern voices is a vote of confidence in the rich storytelling in this region," said New Orleans Film Society's Artistic Director Clint Bowie. "Our role is to help cultivate the storytellers here and shine a bright light on their work - and to continue to ensure that the New Orleans Film Festival serves as an important site of discovery for audiences and filmmakers alike."
Passes for the 2019 New Orleans Film Fest are on early bird sale at NewOrleansFilmFestival.org. Early birds can save $25 on all-access passes and $20 on weekender passes. New Orleans Film Society members save an additional $50 on pass purchases. All-access pass holders get free tickets to all screenings, priority entrance to theaters, and access to parties every night of the festival.
Information about the opening night film and spotlight films (big-name movies festival attendees can see weeks or months before their national theatrical release) will be released in the upcoming weeks.