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The Last Hours of NOFF 2019

Recap of the Penultimate Day and Jury Award Winners

Oct 23, 2019 By Zach Hollwedel
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The 30th Annual New Orleans Film Festival might be winding down, but you wouldn’t know it. It hasn’t lost a beat. The penultimate day was packed with screenings, installations, and parties - not to mention countless bottles popped by this year’s Jury Award Winners, which were announced the Sunday before.

Sam Jones Q and A

The first feature of the day was directors Andre Bowden-Schwartz’s and Sam B. Jones’s Red, White, & Wasted. A rare peek into the mudding culture of Orlando and Central Florida, the documentary tracked a low-income family navigating the disappearance of its beloved wilderness and mud holes, as Disney and development devour the swamp land. Sometimes disturbing, the film’s subjects embrace their “redneck” culture, while hinting denials of racist inclinations despite the Dixie flags in their rooms and on their monster trucks, and chanting pro-Trump slogans in between bong hits and light beers (the film was shot around the 2016 election). Sam B. Jones was in attendance to introduce the film and engaged in a Q&A with the audience after credits rolled and admitted that the project, shot over the course of 18-months, complicated his perceptions of that America.

It was in the Contemporary Arts Center, which in addition to serving as the Festival’s Hub, also housed two theaters constructed for the week (including the one in which Red, White, & Wasted played), attendees also had their final chance to attend the year’s VR and microcinema installations. Passersby and those waiting for their next film could pop into a tent, put on a pair of VR glasses, or sit in front of one of the myriad screens playing short cinematic works on loop.

VR Room

Elsewhere across the festival, the weekend’s Jury Award Winners were likely still celebrating their big wins. Test Pattern, from director Shatara Michelle Ford and starring Brittany S. Hall (HBO’s Ballers) and Will Brill (The OA) took home the Narrative Features Award. Director Daniel Lafrentz’s The Long Shadow won the Louisiana Features award. In the Oscar-qualifying categories, Sophia Nahil Allison’s A Love Song for Latasha, Things That Happen in Bathroom (Edward Hancox, director), and Guaxuma (directed by Nara Normandie) won in the documentary, narrative, and animated shorts categories, respectively. A full list of Jury Award, South Pitch, and Screenplay Winners can be found here.

NOFF After Party

It was a long, fun day, as a couple spotlight anchor films capped off the night in back to back screenings at the regal Prytania Theatre. First up, was Just Mercy, in which Michael B. Jordan portrays Bryan Stevenson, founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, in his legal battle to free wrongly-accused death row inmate Walter McMillian (Jamie Foxx) from an oppressive, racist Alabama correctional system in the early 1990s. Audible sobs were heard from the audience by the time credits rolled, and it’s no wonder both leading actors are already generating Oscar buzz for their performances. Next up was Edward Norton’s star studded whodunit, Motherless Brooklyn. Norton, who directed and adapted the screenplay from Jonathan Lethem’s novel, plays a sleuth plagued with Tourette’s, trying to solve his friend and boss’s murder. The evening capped off in true NOFF fashion with its second to last party. Night owls snacked, shot pool, and sipped on specialty cocktails, as DJ Heelturn kept the beats going.


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