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GoNOLA Guide to the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival

New Orleans Film Festival (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

It is that time of year again: there’s a breeze in the air, fall festival season is just beginning, and, most importantly, it’s time for the 29th annual, Oscar-qualifying New Orleans Film Festival. This year’s festival, taking place from Oct. 17-25, brings with it groundbreaking changes. The 2018 lineup features the most diverse selection of films in the history of the New Orleans Film Society with 60 percent of films coming from female directors and 54 percent from directors of color.

Opening night of New Orleans Film Festival at the Orpheum Theater (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

While classic movie venues like the Broad Theater, Orpheum Theater, and Prytania Theater will still play a role in the festival, changes have been made to the film festival campus, with an expansion that includes a larger presence at the Contemporary Arts Center in the Central Business District.

Festival attendees will have their work cut out for them in choosing a film as there are 220 films in 13 different categories representing 42 different nationalities. Categories include Caribbean Voices, Documentary Features, Music Videos, and Change-Makers—social justice documentaries made up of freedom fighters and dreamers—amongst others. Here’s a look at some of the unique, can’t-miss categories at this year’s Film Fest.


Seven films beat out the rest to come together to represent our unique points of view here at home in Louisiana. A Man and His Trumpet: The Leroy Jones Story portrays legendary trumpeter Leroy Jones as he spearheaded the New Orleans brass band revival and proceeded to tour the globe for the next 20 years. Second-line and parade dance culture leads to the expression of communities through movement in Buckjumping. Nellie Jackson, a black woman born into poverty in Mississippi and the subject of Mississippi Madam: The Life of Nellie Jackson, traveled north to Natchez in 1902 and ran Nellie’s, a brothel named after herself, for over 60 years. Bending Lines: The Sculpture of Robert Wiggs by Allison Bohl, Same God by Linda Midgett, Tomorrow Never Knows by Adam Sekuler, and The True Don Quixote by Chris Poche fill out the group.


As mentioned before, the Change-Makers category features documentaries that specifically deal with issues of social justice. Blowin’ Up, directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal, covers the issue of prosecution of prostitution and the hurdles the sex workers must face. The near-impossible decision of Timothy Conerly between a plea deal for a crime he did not commit or risk 49 years in prison plays out in Guilty Until Proven Innocent. In This Taco Truck Kills Fascists, Jose Torres-Tama spreads a simple message: “No guacamole for immigrant haters.”

Closing night takes place on Thursday, October 25 at the Contempoerary Arts Center. The closing film features A Tuba To Cuba by T.G. Herrington and the incomparable Danny Clinch. The film follows New Orleans’ very own famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they trace the roots of the music from our storied city of jazz to Cuba, discovering a deeper connection between the two cultures. The film is to be followed by a special performance by Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Ticket prices, options, lineup details, and more information can be found at the New Orleans Film Festival website.

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