This week, beginning tonight, the 26th Annual New Orleans Film Festival kicks off with a slew of stellar films. As Louisiana continues to be one of the, if not the top destination in the US for feature and TV productions, this year’s festival proves to be bigger more diverse and exciting. Even more impressive is the number of films throughout the festival that are Louisiana based projects. Below you’ll find our festival roundup of films we’re super excited about.
BORN TO BE BLUE
Ethan Hawke delivers a stunning performance as Chet Baker in this reimagining of the legendary jazz trumpeter’s struggle to overcome his drug addiction and stage a comeback. Born to Be Blue finds Baker at the end of the 1960s, starring in a film about his own already-infamous life.
THE JAZZ LOFT ACCORDING TO W. EUGENE SMITH
From 1957 to 1965, some of New York’s greatest jazz musicians, including Thelonious Monk, Hall Overton and Zoot Sims, gathered in a tiny set of rooms on Sixth Avenue to play their hearts out. One of their hosts was W. Eugene Smith, an ex-_Life_ magazine photographer with an obsessive desire to capture the world around him in pictures and tape recordings.
STEVE JOBS: THE MAN IN THE MACHINE
Perhaps the most publicly revered corporate figure of the technology age, Steve Jobs’ untimely death in 2011 at the age of 56 set off a worldwide outpouring of grief from consumers, who worshipped his signature products such as the iPhone and the iMac.
NEW ORLEANS, HERE & NOW
In New Orleans, Here & Now six different filmmakers tell six stories about the city today, ten years after Katrina. The settings range far and wide-including Celebration Hall in the 7th Ward, Algiers Point on the Westbank, a high school in the Bywater, the furthest reaches of St. Bernard Parish, even Astrodome in Houston-focusing on the people, experiences and perspectives that are inseparable from the city.
FRAME BY FRAME
Taking a photo was a crime when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan. After the regime fell from power in 2001, a fledgling free press emerged that birthed a photography revolution. Now, as foreign troops and media withdraw, the country and its journalists stand on their own. Set in a modern Afghanistan bursting with color and character, Frame By Frame follows four Afghan photojournalists as they navigate an emerging and dangerous media landscape-reframing Afghanistan for the world, and for themselves.
Big Chief Tugga, the youngest Mardi Gras Indian chief in New Orleans, serves as the leader of the all-children’s Red Flame Hunters.
The Reflektor Tapes is a fascinating insight into the making of Arcade Fire’s international number-one album, Reflektor. The film recontextualizes the album experience, transporting the viewer into a kaleidoscopic sonic and visual landscape.
REVERSING THE MISSISSIPPI
On a road trip across America, filmmaker Ian Midgley met two young innovators whose projects, resourcefulness and idealism inspired him. You may have seen Marcin Jabukowski’s TED talk: he’s the physicist who started Open Source Ecology, an effort to democratize the production of tools for agriculture. And you may have read about Nat Turner, the New York City teacher who relocated to the Lower Ninth Ward soon after Hurricane Katrina: he started Our School at Blair Grocery, an urban agriculture experiment meant to empower neighborhood youth, but recently beset by financial difficulties. Midgley decides to play matchmaker, sensing a collaboration between the two men could be fruitful. The result is a revelatory (and often funny) behind-the-scenes look at individuals who hope to change the world, and the organizational and personal challenges inseparable from this ambition. – Rachel Lazar
THE KING OF NEW ORLEANS
Larry Shirt is a New Orleans taxi driver whose passengers include the city’s tourists, socialites and musicians. Bobby Cohn, a Harvard student home from school and experiencing a personal crisis, is one of those passengers. The circumstances that bring them together lead to a bond ultimately turned upside down by Hurricane Katrina, but instilled by the love of the city they both call home.