The New Orleans Film Festival presents its 23rd edition beginning this Thursday, October 11 and running for the next eight days. The event is clearly on the rise, witnessing a dramatic increase in submissions, and drawing higher profile films, industry attendance, and sponsors. I’ve only attended once, bringing THE CANAL STREET MADAM there for a hometown screening in 2010, but I echo MovieMaker Magazine in recommending NOFF as a “festival worth the entry fee” for its fantastic staff and amazing setting.
The festival is extremely supportive of documentaries – more than half of its feature-length selections are non-fiction. Among these are a number of Special Presentations, including REBIRTH OF A NATION (pictured), DJ Spooky’s remix of DW Griffith’s controversial and influential ode to the KKK; and two films with direct connections to NOLA: Angad Singh Bhalla’s HERMAN’S HOUSE, about an artist who collaborates with New Orleans native Herman Wallace, a Black Panther in solitary confinement in Angola; and Jamie Meltzer’s INFORMANT, a portrait of the complex and contradictory life of local grassroots activist turned clandestine federal informant, Brandon Darby.
Other locally-connected docs include Alix Lambert and David McMahon’s BAYOU BLUE (pictured), an investigation into a decade-long serial killer case in southeastern Louisiana; S Leo Chiang’s MR CAO GOES TO WASHINGTON, the unlikely and complex story of a Vietnamese ex-priest turned Republican congressman for traditionally Democratic New Orleans; Conni Castille’s T-GALOP: A LOUISIANA HORSE STORY, an exploration of southern Louisiana and its horse culture; Crista Rock’s NOLABOUND, which follows more than two dozen thinkers and business people as they assess the entrepreneurial potential of post-Katrina New Orleans; Michelle Ettlin’s LIQUID LAND, on a unique art project exploring music and creativity in New Orleans; and Tao Norager’s TRUE FAMILY, a portrait of a recovering singer in a New Orleans itself recovering from Katrina.
The festival isn’t limited to only Louisiana stories – the programming also draws from a number of highlights from this year’s fest circuit, such as SXSW’s WONDER WOMEN! and BAY OF ALL SAINTS, or Hot Docs‘ CALL ME KUCHU and THE MECHANICAL BRIDE. Other notable titles include Jae-Ho Chang and Tara Autovino’s ULTIMATE CHRISTIAN WRESTLING, which profiles a would-be professional wrestler who feels called to minister via Christian-themed wrestling shows; Till Schauder’s THE IRAN JOB, which follows an African-American basketball player during his contract to play for an Iranian team in the months leading up to the contentious 2009 elections; Ben Guest’s SHOWTIME, a look at an African American rural Mississippi girls basketball team; Tim Cawley’s FROM NOTHING, SOMETHING, which offers insight into the creative process across a multitude of disciplines; Juliet Snowden’s HOLLYWOOD HAIR, a portrait of a hair salon that serves as a second home to those who haven’t quite realized their Hollywood dream; and Jared Goodman’s CAPTIVE BEAUTY, about a Colombian women’s prison beauty pageant.