The New Orleans Film Festival

Photo courtesy of The New Orleans Film Festival/Craig Mulcahy

The New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) has been constantly evolving since its inception in 1989. As the movies and the technology behind them have become more advanced, so too has this local event, which promotes and fosters the cinematic arts for audiences and filmmakers in the Crescent City.

To date, the New Orleans Film Festival is one of the largest film festivals in the South and is the longest-running one festival of its kind in the state. The festival has grown to the point of attracting thousands of attendees and industry insiders, plus more than 400 filmmakers and over 200 films annually.

This year the festival kicks off on October 16 and runs through October 23 at multiple venues across the city. The event is facilitated by the New Orleans Film Society, which is a nonprofit, year-round organization made up of full-time staff, volunteers, local cinephiles, and donors. The Film Society screens movies in the greater New Orleans area throughout the year, but there is no cinematic event in the city’s busy calendar quite like the NOFF.

Now in its 30th year, the Film Festival has grown into a massive undertaking. It’s one of the few film festivals in the nation that showcases Oscar-qualifying films drawn from all three Academy-accredited categories: Narrative Short, Documentary Short, and Animated Short. The festival is a subject of considerable media attention too — MovieMaker magazine has dubbed it one of the “50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” every year since 2012 (with 2019 being no exception).

As befits a city that has a long history of involvement in social justice and civil rights movements, the festival has a stated commitment to diversity. As such, over 50 percent of the featured films are created by women and gender non-conforming filmmakers, and the same goes for productions created by filmmakers of color. The festival also works hard at creating networking events for the filmmakers to connect with the industry presence, and meet the distributors and the media.

The festival organizers reported receiving a record number of nearly 6,000 film and screenplay submissions from 120 countries for last year’s festival, a 25 percent increase since 2017. Venues across the city will again include the Broad TheaterOrpheum Theater and Prytania Theater, plus the festival’s hub, the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), with the 1,800-seat and 300-seat screening rooms. The New Orleans Advocate headquarters Uptown (840 St. Charles Ave.) had also been added as a screening and a VIP Lounge venue.

This year, the NOFF kicks off its Music Initiative, in an attempt to connect local working musicians with opportunities in the film and television industry. The initiative will include short pitch sessions, a public panel, and a networking reception. The second annual New Orleans Film Festival Screenplay Competition will also coincide with the 2019 festival, in the ongoing commitment to diversity and discovering new voices.

Want to attend the NOFF? There are several different ticket packages available for attendees, and the screenings start at $9. All-access passes are also available for purchase — you can grab a pass for $315 ($265 for members). Weekender passes are $195 for non-members and $170 for the members.

For more information on the panels, parties, special guests, and a schedule of events, visit the New Orleans Film Society website or the festival’s Facebook page.

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