Being a New Orleanian and a film critic, this time of year holds a special place in my heart and on my calendar: It’s the 29th Annual New Orleans Film Festival, presented by the New Orleans Film Society! Every year, I look forward to an eclectic array of movies – short and feature-length – that represent the overlooked and/or underappreciated stories from burgeoning and even local filmmakers. Each one is looking to take an industry in desperate need of change by storm. Sure, we get some early peeks at mainstream fare (Widows, Roma, and Green Book included this year), but it’s the flicks that I may never see outside of a festival that interest me the most.
For this week’s progressive’s lifestyle, I have an offering of three selections from this year’s event of cinephile delights, each different in subject and style, but similar in showcasing the talents and observations of multiple artists.
The new media collective behind such obscure features as collective:unconscious and Chained for Life (also playing at the fest this year) present, for the second year, a showcase of short films and sketches meant to melt minds and blow away eyes. This time around, it’s all with the theme of Halloween, featuring introductions from a group of Elvira impersonators (found on craigslist, it seems). This show intrigues me to no end, as not only is it pushing into new grounds of filmmaking and storytelling, but it’s elusive – their website is available by invitation only.
Eyeslicer just may be meant for New Orleans more than any other city of moviegoers and weirdos.
With support from the Roger & Chaz Ebert Foundation, this restoration of a nearly 40-year absent film, set/shot in and around Natchitoches, LA, comes at a time when film preservation is more and more becoming urgent. Netflix may have completed Orson Welles’ long unfinished The Other Side of the Wind, but Cane River is a true find for anyone who’s ever searched IMDB.com for any/all information on missing and lost movies. A Romeo & Juliet down south, a discovery of great importance to the local film culture, Cane River has much to celebrate.
Tomorrow Never Knows
Directed by Zeitgeist Multidisciplinary Center Associate Director Adam Sekuler, Tomorrow Never Knows tells a devastating story that may be hard to stomach for some, and too emotional for others, but downright integral to the human experience. It’s about a couple dealing with not just the effects of Alzheimer’s, but the end of life decision to go without eating or drinking – to starve themselves until death. Why? Why put yourself and loved ones through such pain? The film looks to discover this, what it means to love, to be loved, and to live and die. Unexpectedly, this may be a contender for year-end awards consideration.
No matter what you end up watching, keep it unique, keep it progressive, and keep it (of course) New Orleans!
For more information on the above films and the festival, visit neworleansfilmsociety.org/lineup
Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations and Occupy.