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Lights, Camera, Action

The New Orleans Film Fest Rolls Through the Big Easy

Oct 17, 2019 By Zach Hollwedel
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The 30thAnnual New Orleans Film Festival kicked off yesterday in spectacular fashion. Three decades in, the Festival, produced by the New Orleans Film Society, continues to grow. Festival managers anticipate over 30,000 filmmakers and cinephiles will attend the weeklong celebration of film. More than 250-volunteers have been enlisted to help ensure the week goes off without a hitch. Over 500-filmmakers worked on the 240-movies that will screen over the coming days, over 60 of which were made in Louisiana. The growth of NOFF and sheer quantity of films is all the more impressive, considering that there are only five true cinema screens in Orleans Parish. (Yes, neighboring parishes house numerous multi-plexes, but after the relocation of one independent film house and the closure of a cineplex on the edge of the French Quarter, Festival crews had to construct a 180-seat and a 300-seat venue in the Contemporary Arts Center to accommodate the robust lineup.)

Last night, though, all eyed were on one screen only. Opening Night returned to New Orleans’s grand Orpheum Theater, this year with Noah Baumbach’s latest exploration of family life, Marriage Story. Then, like film cameras, a Second Line Parade rolled through downtown New Orleans once Marriage Story let out. Despite a chill that caught all locals off guard, a brass band replete with trumpets, drums, and a sousaphone danced festivalgoers six blocks, from the majestic theater to the night’s party venue. Along the way, music echoed off the tall buildings of the Central Business District, and tourists en route to their hotels or the next bar snapped photos, enchanted by what is nearly a daily celebration of life here in the Big Easy. The dancers leading the parade twirled and tapped, painted by the flashing blue of the NOPD motorcycle escort.

Gallier Hall

The party arrived at Gallier Hall, a gorgeous example of mid-1800s Greek Revival architecture on the famed, street car track-lined St. Charles Avenue. Having previously served as New Orleans’s City Hall for over a century), the National Historic Landmark was the perfect space to ring in the first night of the NOFF. Crowds packed the ornate hallways and massive rooms, as DJs spun tunes, bartenders sling drinks, and local New Orleans restaurateurs catered the soiree. Filmmakers began networking and celebrating their hard work, anticipating premiers and rehearsing their pitches in their heads, while New Orleans did what it does best. Celebrate.


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