No matter whether your idea of a great movie is A Streetcar Named Desire or (keep this to yourself) Hot Tub Time Machine 2, you probably can think of a favorite flick or two set and filmed in New Orleans.
Directors have always loved the eeriness of the swamps and the quirkiness of the streets. But did you know The Big Easy is as big in the promotion end of the film business as it is in the production end?
The New Orleans Film Festival every October has become one of the most important film festivals in the United States. More than 200 features, documentaries and shorts are screened citywide during an event now known as “Cannes on the Mississippi.”
Filmmakers from around the world enter their wares as the festival’s prestige continues to grow. In 2012, Premiumbeat.com named the event to its list of “Fifteen Fests You Should Enter.” That same year, the New Orleans Film Festival also made MovieMaker magazine’s list of “25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.”
The festival draws an international coterie of filmmakers, actors, investors, distribution execs and critics, and a growing number of them don’t have to travel. New Orleans not only rebuilt itself after Hurricane Katrina, it also re-branded itself as a chic center of the arts. As a result, more and more artists and artisans in the movie trades have made homes there. And of course, they attend the festival.
But most of the screenings, and many other New Orleans Film Festival activities throughout the eight days of the event, are open to the public. Some are free of charge. Some require only a la carte admission tickets. Others, depending on the event, honor one or both tiered all-festival passes sold in advance. Those extra events include themed brunches, galas and parties, and industry-related mentoring sessions and panel discussions.
New Orleans Film Festival movies
It’s important to note that even if you buy an all-access festival pass in advance, that pass alone won’t necessarily get you into a film screening at the door. Seats are first-come, first-serve, so the best way to assure admission to the screenings you want is to reserve seats for individual showings, either at the individual theater or at the NOFF box office, using your pre-purchased pass in lieu of cash or credit. The New Orleans Film Society, which created the event in 1989, also offers movies-only ticket packages at various price points.
As for the movies themselves, check the Festival website for specific titles. According to the NOFS, over 90% of the films come from entries. Honored late-season releases from the previous year comprise the majority of remaining titles. The submitted films are entered in one of the following categories:
• Narrative Features
• Documentary Features
• Louisiana Features
• Narrative Shorts
• Documentary Shorts
• Louisiana Shorts
• Animated Shorts
• Experimental Shorts
• Music Videos
The NOFS also sponsors a number of other major annual events. Those include the New Orleans International Children’s Film Festival every March and the French Film Festival every July. Any of them are a worthy basis for vacationing in New Orleans depending on who’s in your vacationing group. But if you’re a general lover of the cinema, The New Orleans Film Festival could prove to be especially memorable.
You might get an early look at a future Golden Globe- or Oscar-winning film. You might even bump into a past or future Golden Globe or Oscar winner. But in this unusual vacation activity, you surely will explore new boundaries in cinema creativity together with others who share your passion for the movies.
And you’ll do it New Orleans, a setting that couldn’t be more appropriate—a city of mystery, romance and surprise, a city made for the movies.