SEPTEMBER 9-11, 2016
THE BROAD THEATER
From festival co-founder Angela Catalano:
Tomorrow starts our second annual True Orleans Film Festival, and we couldn’t be more excited to continue our showcase of nonfiction storytelling. We’ll be bringing our mobile cinema with us to the Broad Theater this year, screening both digital AND 16mm films. We relish in the opportunity to spend three days sharing films with all of you, and we’re particularly excited to be expanding our screening lineup this year.
Our programming philosophy is to curate a diverse lineup of films that showcase various styles of documentary filmmaking and storytelling. We search for films from around the world*, and our goal is to share work from different countries, with different languages, and including work from female filmmakers and filmmakers of color. With only nine slots to fill, it’s impossible to cover as much ground as we’d like, but our 2016 selections each provide a different viewpoint, subject matter, and take on the craft that highlight some of the best nonfiction films being made. Documentary films tend to receive fewer opportunities for theatrical runs, and many of them head straight to Netflix of video-on-demand platforms, but we want this festival to introduce audiences to nonfiction work that might get lost in the shuffle.
We’re opening the festival with Robert Greene’s Sundance award-winning documentary, Kate Plays Christine. Greene’s work pushes boundaries not only with regard to how documentary films are perceived, but also in how his films can force a viewer to confront psychological and emotional processes. What starts as a simple premise (documenting an actress preparing for a role) subtly delves into deeper questions of voyeurism, control, and notions of what’s “real” in documentaries (and moreover, whether or not we as viewers need or want that realness). That captures much of what we strive to question throughout this weekend of films, and we’re thrilled to have him join us to discuss his film and his thoughts on documentary filmmaking further.
The festival includes different examinations of social justice issues: Hooligan Sparrow is a nerve-wracking exploration of government corruption in China, while Do Not Resist takes us into police training and operations to examine the increasing militarization of law enforcement with beautifully shot footage of intense confrontations. Peter and the Farm is a visually stunning portrait of one farmer’s failed American dream, and Starless Dreams provides an intimate and compassionate look into a detention center for young girls in Iran. For fans of our Full Aperture series, we’re incredibly excited to be showing Deborah Stratman’s newest feature, The Illinois Parables, on her personal 16mm print. We’re screening a recently restored version of Wim Wender’s infectious Cuban music documentary, Buena Vista Social Club, to celebrate a classic documentary that’s not widely available. Personally, curating our Big Stories, Short Films program is one of my favorites: documentary short form is especially innovative, with many of the films experimenting with technique and genre to create compelling stories. Closing the festival is Kedi, a charming, thoughtful look at the connection between street cats in Istanbul and their human counterparts. We packed the weekend with some intense films, and we’d like to end it on a hopeful note.
To contextualize these films on a local level, we’ve paired locally produced audio pieces with related films to showcase the inventive radio work that’s being created in town. You’ll experience a detention center for young girls in Iran in Starless Dreams, but you’ll also hear about what New Orleans youth are doing to reform the juvenile justice system in Eve Abrams’ Unprisoned piece before the film. In addition to local audio pieces, we’re hosting two panels, sponsored by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, City of New Orleans, comprised of local filmmakers, journalists, audio producers, and experts: immediately following Starless Dreams, our panelists will discuss the state of Louisiana’s juvenile justice system, and our Sunday panel will bring together local practitioners to examine the state of documentary and nonfiction audio funding.
I’m proud of the festival we’ve put together, and we couldn’t have done this without the generous support of WWNO, NOVAC, Antigravity Magazine, NolaVie, New Belgium Brewing, and the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy, City of New Orleans. We’re looking forward to seeing you at our screenings!
*For those of you asking about Louisiana-made documentaries, we highly recommend you attend the New Orleans Film Festival next month; their lineup of locally made films is vast and top notch.