Until Next Year | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019  

Until Next Year

Saying Goodbye to the New Orleans Film Festival – For Now

Oct 27, 2019 By Zach Hollwedel
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What a week it was. From October 16 through the 23rd, I put daily life on hold and immersed myself in the 30thNew Orleans Film Festival. For cinephiles in the Big Easy, there's no better week of the year. Frankly, the same could be said for people the world over; tens of thousands of attendees and hundreds of filmmakers traveled the globe for this year's fest. For some, it was a first ever visit to the Crescent City; for others, it was an annual pilgrimage to a place that's as warm in their hearts as the cities they call home. For me, it was a reminder of why I love both film and New Orleans.

Closing Day was nonstop. From 1:30 in the afternoon until almost 11 at night, I watched four movies back to back. A Woman's Work: The NFL's Cheerleader Problem is a fascinating documentary about the illegal working requirements NFL franchises force upon their cheerleaders. Director Yu Gu's film follows two brave women, one a cheerleader for the Bills and the other a Raiderette, at they sue their teams in pursuit of-at the very least-minimum wage. It's no secret that the NFL, an organization beset by domestic abuse scandals, violent CTE cases, and countless on-field disputes and errors (spoken as a Saints fan), has an image problem. But we often don't hear about or forget the fights cheerleaders wage within over a third of the organizations for some semblance of fair pay. Football fans will be shocked as what these dancers have to do-and what they have to pay out of pocket-in order to be a part of a cheerleading squad that makes less than 1/650th(or even less) than some of the least paid members of the teams for which they cheer. 


The Rach 


Next up, I returned to the Contemporary Arts Center for Seadrift, an undeniably currently relevant documentary about a 1970s murder in a Texas fishing town that highlighted the tensions between immigrants and generational Americans. I remained in The Ranch Theater at the CAC (one of the few the NOFF staff built specifically for the Festival) for the encore presentation of Lost Bayou, a locally shot Gothic noir set in Louisiana's swampland. After Lost Bayou (coverage to come), I huffed it back over toward the French Quarter for the Closing Night Film. 


 Closing Night Film


Closing Night was extra special for Terence Blanchard. The New Orleans born Grammy winning and Academy Award nominated composer was presented with the Career Achievement Award in front of a packed house. Festivalgoers returned to the historic Orpheum Theater in eager anticipation of the Closing Night Film, Harriet, about the life of abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor, Harriet Tubman. Blanchard, who composed the music for the film, offered words of encouragement to aspiring filmmakers both in the audience and not present that night. It can be easy to idolize successful, famous people, yet hard to remember that they had to work for their accomplishments, just as he did. Anyone, Blanchard offered, has the same potential to succeed, if they push themselves to work hard and master their craft. 

 

It's hard to believe the Festival is over; it had become such a part of my day for over a week. Once again, it was a tremendous experience. And it's far from over. Under the Radar's coverage of the 2019 New Orleans Film Festival will continue in the coming weeks and months, as updates about Audience Award winners are posted, and reviews of the films screened at the fest will run on our site and/or in upcoming print issues. 

Closing Night Party 



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