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Wednesday, October 21st, 2020  

Friday at the Fest

Day Three Delivers

Oct 19, 2019 By Zach Hollwedel
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Day Three of the 30th Annual New Orleans Film Festival saw the programming schedule at its most robust yet. The first film of the day, The Body Remembers, was one of a number of films presented free and open to the public, courtesy of The Helis Foundation. At noon, The Hottest August was a simmering documentary about a stifling day in the life of New York City. A documentary shorts block followed, also free courtesy of The Helis Foundation and sponsored by the Consulate of Canada.

Festival organizers truly strive to ensure that the week delivers to filmmakers more than the just opportunity to screen or premiere their latest film. (Not to say that that chance alone is not worth the attendance. There's ample prestige in having a film selected for the lineup, as the New Orleans Film Festival is an Academy Award-qualifying event in the narrative, documentary, and animated shorts categories.) Friday kicked off a spate of Filmmaker Forum events. Sponsored by the City of New Orleans, these special sessions are prime learning and networking opportunities for emerging filmmakers and the public at large.

The Meet the Programmers Panel that kicked off the day shed light on the submission process. It's often the case, whether it's a screenplay competition, a festival, or some other outlet that filmmakers and artists feel they're tossing their work (and application fee) into a black hole when they hit send on a creative submission. Programming staffers from Tribeca, SXSW, Atlanta, Aspen Shortsfest, RiverRun, and other festivals demystified the process Friday afternoon. Next, the Director of Community at The Black List, a screenwriter-focused initiative that allows writers to host, post, and receive feedback on their scripts, which industry leaders can peruse in search of the next great unknown writer, took questions from a crowd on the website's best practices and success stories. Anyone who has tried to write a script, let alone sell one, knows how Sisyphean of a task it can be. The Black List aims to make the pursuit easier, and its presence at the Festival helped empower aspiring writers for future success.

Filmmaker Forum

Elsewhere across the Festival's campus, Forum discussions included topics included microcinema and a dive into the history of overweight women in film. In an era when acclaimed actors such as Chrissy Metz (This is Us) are talked about as much, if not more, for their appearance than for their talent, this latter talk explored the evolution of the on-scree heavyset woman from a caricature, goofy sidekick, or villain to an actualized, albeit still underutilized, full-fledged and leading character. Open exclusively to filmmakers, the first Roundtable of the Festival was a conversation about and for Queer voices from Appalachia and the South. (The Panel, Special Event, and Roundtable schedules continue throughout the weekend and into Monday.)

Beyond the panels and talks, Friday also featured four pitching opportunities. The If/Then Documentary Short, University Doc, Narrative Open Call, and University Fiction pitches were open to the public from 10:30am to 6:30pm. Pitch winners stand to receive tens of thousands of dollars in support and equipment (and cash) from sponsors including Final Draft screenwriting software, Samsung, the Tribeca Film Institute, and Kyotocolor.

Bon Bon Vivant

Of course, the day wasn't all work and watching. The New Orleans Film Festival knows how to throw a party, and Friday was no exception. All Access and Filmmaker pass holders converged upon the New Orleans Culinary & Hospitality Institute (NOCHI) after the last screenings of the day let out for a rooftop soiree. Local favorite Gypsy Jazz band Bon Bon Vivant supplied the tunes, which echoed up toward the overcast sky, as costumed marching krewes wove through the crowds. Catered by over a half dozen local restaurants, the party atop the city was the perfect way to cut loose after a long, fun day of Festing.  


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