Closing in on a quarter of a century of bringing films to the Big Easy, the 24th edition of the New Orleans Film Festival kicks off this Thursday, October 10, and runs through next Thursday, October 17. The premier film event in Louisiana, the regional festival has been growing in stature for the past few years, buoyed by a passionate staff, excellent curation, and a perfect destination setting, making it no surprise that more than 200 filmmakers are expected to attend their screenings this year, in addition to industry representatives serving on numerous panels and juries.
Documentaries share the spotlight equally with narratives at NOFF, with more than forty feature docs on offer, including the closing night film, Lily Keber’s BAYOU MAHARAJAH, on local piano legend James Booker. Other NOLA-focused docs include similarly music-themed selections like Darren Hoffman’s TRADITION IS A TEMPLE, an exploration of the city’s unique melding of music culture; Jessy Cale Williamson’s A WAREHOUSE ON TCHOUPITOULAS, about an iconic local music venue of the 1970s and early ’80s; Kenna J Moore’s OMITTED, a portrait of two dedicated bounce musicians; and Richard Barber and Andrew Lambertson’s THE WHOLE GRITTY CITY (pictured), which chronicles three high school marching bands post Katrina.
Other regionally-connected docs include Geraldine Brezca’s ELLE, following a New Orleans’ artist on her quest to replace Barbie’s hegemony with her own paper doll alternative; Zach Godshall’s WATER LIKE STONE, an exploration of Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands; Leah Mahan’s COME HELL OR HIGH WATER (pictured), about a historically black coastal Mississippi town’s struggle against encroaching development and environmental damage; Panagiotis Evangelidis’ THEY GLOW IN THE DARK, a portrait of two HIV positive gay men trying to eke out a living in New Orleans; and Godfrey Reggio’s VISITORS, the New Orleans native’s minimalist exploration of mankind’s relationship with technology.
Looking outside the Gulf region, several docs are focused on international subjects, including Bryan Little’s THE AFRICAN CYPHER, on South African street dancers; Jeremy Xido’s DEATH METAL ANGOLA (pictured), about the cathartic role hardcore music has played for Angolans after decades of civil war; and Fabien Constant’s MADEMOISELLE C, following Vogue Paris‘s longtime editor-in-chief as she transitions from Paris to New York City.
Following her, a couple of docs are also focused on NYC, including Richard Hankin’s World Trade Center rebuilding story, 16 ACRES; and David L Lewis’ profile of Village Voice music journalist Nat Hentoff, THE PLEASURES OF BEING OUT OF STEP. Finally, other docs set around the country include John Dentino’s FOR I KNOW MY WEAKNESS (pictured), in which the director becomes embroiled in the lives of an alcoholic homeless woman and her estranged family; Nicole Teeny’s BIBLE QUIZ, following a Bible memorizing teen as she wrestles with infatuation while trying to win the national championship; and Marion Lipschutz and Rose Rosenblatt’s YOUNG LAKOTA, about political awakening and controversy on the Pine Ridge Reservation.