The New Orleans Film Society kicks off the 30th New Orleans Film Festival at tonight (Oct. 16) with the Opening Night Film Marriage Story. Uptown’s Prytania Theater will screen over a dozen films, including Motherless Brooklyn, directed by and starring Edward Norton, and The Long Shadow, by Louisiana director Daniel Lafrentz. Shorts from the state and big-budget films are some festival highlights coming to the neighborhood this year.
Of the 6,500 submissions from 104 countries, 232 “visionary, thought-provoking films that represent a wealth of perspectives” made it into the festival. 50% of the films were made in the American South, and 26% are Louisiana-made.
“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 in a statement to the press.
Big Waves for New Orleans
The festival’s two Centerpiece Films will be Waves, from director Trey Edward Shults and starring New Orleans-born actor Kelvin Harrison, Jr., and Burning Cane, directed by 19-year-old NOCCA alum Phillip Youmans and starring Wendell Pierce.
Waves is “a heartrending story about the universal capacity for compassion and growth even in the darkest of times.” It had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival and went on to screen at the Toronto International Film Festival. Waves screens on Friday at The Ranch Theater at the Contemporary Arts Center at 6:45 p.m.
Burning Cane is “set amongst the cane fields of rural Louisiana, where a deeply religious woman struggles to reconcile her convictions of faith with the love she has for her alcoholic son and troubled preacher.” The film received the “Youth Film Grant” through #CreateLouisiana last year, funded in part by the New Orleans Film Society.
Burning Cane also makes Youmans the youngest and the first African-American director to win the Founder’s Award for Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. The film will screen at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Orpheum Theater.
Youmans will also screen a new short film, Nairobi, within the “Fashion Conscious Shorts” block of the festival. The 15-minute short film follows the story Eloise Sekongo immigrating to New York from Ivory Coast after divorcing her husband of 18 years. The short plays at the Blue Orleans Theater at The Advocate 7:15 p.m. Friday and again on Monday at The Ranch at the CAC.
Films at Prytania Theater
Prytania Theater will host about a dozen festival films again this year, including Louisiana short films and full-length, mainstream features. Here are all of the NOFF screenings at Prytania this year. (Full Film Fest Schedule)
Thursday, Oct. 17
7:15 p.m. – 9:03 p.m.
The new comedy and anti-hate movie from writer-director Taika Waititi (What We Do In the Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok). A young boy in Hitler’s army finds out his mother is hiding a Jewish girl in their home.
Friday, Oct. 18
Portrait of a Lady on Fire
7:30 p.m. – 9:29 p.m.
In 18th century France, a young painter, Marianne, is commissioned to do the wedding portrait of Héloïse without her knowing. Therefore, Marianne must observe her model by day to paint her portrait at night. Day by day, the two women become closer as they share Héloïse’s last moments of freedom before the impending wedding.
Louisiana Shorts: Right Place Wrong Time
2:15 p.m. – 3:31 p.m.
Shorts made in Louisiana: The Rougarou | Terry + Sam | Pell – “Skyfall” feat. Ambré & Malik Ninety Five | Old Crows | Voodo | Tank – Nice | And What Happened After That?
5:00 p.m. – 6:34 p.m.
In rural 1977 Georgia, a misfit girl named Christmas Flint (Mckenna Grace) dreams of life in outer space. When a national competition offers her a chance at her dream, to be recorded on NASA’s Golden Record, she recruits a makeshift troop of Birdie Scouts, forging friendships that last a lifetime and beyond.
Ford v. Ferrari
8:00 p.m. – 10:32 p.m.
Academy Award®-winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in FORD v FERRARI, based on the remarkable true story of the visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles (Bale), who together battled corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company and take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.
Sunday, Oct. 20
2:00 p.m. – 3:41 p.m.
With Redmayne and Jones re-teaming for the first time since The Theory of Everything, The Aeronauts mixes period flourishes and high-altitude thrills.
The Two Popes
4:30 p.m. – 6:35 p.m.
Behind Vatican walls, the traditionalist Pope Benedict and the reformist future Pope Francis must find common ground to forge a new path for the Catholic Church.
7:30 p.m. – 9:23 p.m.
In this year’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave) plays female prison warden Bernadine Williams, who after years of carrying out death row executions, comes up against one inmate who forces her to confront the psychological and emotional demons her job has created.
Monday, Oct. 21
7:30 p.m. – 9:06 p.m.
A documentary covering the unusual life and ground-breaking fiction of acclaimed Georgia writer Flannery O’Connor.
Tuesday, Oct. 22
5:00 p.m. – 7:16 p.m.
Just Mercy follows world-renowned civil rights defense attorney Bryan Stevenson as he attempts to appeal Walter McMillian’s murder conviction. With a star-studded cast featuring Michael B. Jordan, Jamie Foxx, and Brie Larson, this American legal drama is based on a true story and explores the lengths to which one must fight for justice in this world.
8:00 p.m. – 10:24 p.m.
Set against the backdrop of 1950s New York, Motherless Brooklyn follows Lionel Essrog, a lonely private detective afflicted with Tourette’s Syndrome, as he ventures to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend, Frank Minna.
Wednesday, Oct. 23
7:00 p.m. – 9:10 p.m.
Acclaimed writer and director Rian Johnson (Brick, Looper, The Last Jedi) pays tribute to mystery mastermind Agatha Christie in Knives Out, a fun, modern-day murder mystery where everyone is a suspect.
The 30th New Orleans Film Festival runs until Wednesday, Oct. 23. For more about the festival, Film Society, or films, visit neworleansfilmsociety.org.