New Orleans Film Festival Opens in Two Weeks; More Than 230 Films Programmed Including Dozens of Docs
30th annual NOFF runs October 16-23, showcasing fiction and nonfiction films from Jojo Rabbit to Vision Portraits
New Orleans is famous for its jazz festival, but for three decades it has also been home to one of the top film festivals in North America.
The 30th annual New Orleans Film Festival opens Wednesday, October 16 and runs through the following Wednesday, with more than 230 cinematic works of fiction and nonfiction on the schedule. NOFF kicks off with Marriage Story, the Noah Bombach drama starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson that just held its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival.
Thursday - the first full day of the festival - boasts screenings of five documentary features including Rodney Evans' Vision Portraits, in which the director explores the impact of failing eyesight on four artists, Evans among them.
The festival’s seasoned team of programmers carefully curated a slate of 232 visionary, thought-provoking films that represent a wealth of perspectives.
Also screening Thursday is Havana, From on High, a documentary by Pedro Ruiz about the capital of Cuba where some of the city's poorest residents resort to living on rooftops.
"What begins as a portrait of everyday life becomes an exploration of the effects of socio-economic disarray and increased foreign influence on a fiercely independent nation," NOFF programmers note. "Despite their adversity and separation from the world, the rooftop dwellers of Havana, like all others, search for happiness."
Singular, directed by Dennis Scholl and Marlon Johnson, "chronicles the extraordinary rise of Haitian-American jazz singer Cecile Mclorin Salvant, anchored by a pristine recording of a live concert."
Pier Kids, directed by Elegance Bratton, centers on LGBT young people, most of them of color and most without homes, who find a place of refuge on a pier in New York's Hudson River.
The timely documentary Border South, directed by Raúl O. Paz Pastrana, explores the dynamics of immigration at the southern border, where people from as far away as Central America are trying to cross into the United States. Some don't survive the journey.
"Anthropologist Jason de León leads a team that searches the desert for the remains of those whose fates will never be known to their families," NOFF says of the film. "The mosaic of migrant experience begs us to consider how U.S. policies affect those willing to risk disappearance to get here."
Border South screens on October 20 and 22. In Seadrift, directed by Tim Tsai, "a fatal shooting in a Texas fishing village ignites a maelstrom of hostilities against Vietnamese refugees along the Gulf Coast." That documentary is set to screen on October 23 and 23.
Why Can't I Be Me? Around You tells the story of Rusty Tidenberg, a mechanic, inventor and drag racer from Albuquerque, New Mexico who shocked her friends when she transitioned to female.
"[Director] Harold Blank (son of renowned documentarian Les) avoids a timid, quirky approach to this documentary," NOFF observes, "which practically radiates exhaust with a style that’s all Americana, hot rods, and wide open deserts."
For the full list of feature documentaries at NOFF, click here. The festival will also showcase more than a dozen documentary shorts. Find information on those films here.
"The festival is expected to engage 30,000+ attendees with visionary films, directors, and other film lovers," NOFF writes on its website. "The festival is also known for its eclectic parties, virtual reality exhibition, conversations with notable actors, writers, and directors––and its filmmaker forum, offering numerous opportunities for project development and professional networking."
The festival is produced by the New Orleans Film Society.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.