The 2017 New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF) selected the Louisiana-shot Mudbound, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year as the Centerpiece Film; and announced the competition lineup. The festival will take place October 11th to October 19th in venues across the city. With 53 percent of films by female directors and 45 percent by directors of color, 2017 boasts the most diverse line-up in the festival’s history.
Directed and co-written by Dee Rees, whose previous directorial projects include Pariah and Bessie, Mudbound is an adaptation of the prizewinning novel from Hillary Jordan about racial tension in the 1940s American South. It stars Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke, Mary J. Blige, Garrett Hedlund, and New Orleans native Jason Mitchell. In addition to being directed by a woman, Mudbound also features women in the lead roles of producer, writer, cinematographer, editor, sound mixer, and head of makeup.
Set in the rural American South during World War II, Dee Rees’ Mudbound is an epic story of two families pitted against one another by a ruthless social hierarchy, yet bound together by the shared farmland of the Mississippi Delta. Mudbound follows the McAllan family, newly transplanted from the quiet civility of Memphis and unprepared for the harsh demands of farming. Despite the grandiose dreams of Henry (Jason Clarke), his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan) struggles to keep the faith in her husband’s losing venture. Meanwhile, Hap and Florence Jackson (Rob Morgan, Mary J. Blige)—sharecroppers who have worked the land for generations—struggle bravely to build a small dream of their own despite the rigidly enforced social barriers they face. The war upends both families’ plans as their returning loved ones, Jamie McAllan (Garrett Hedlund) and Ronsel Jackson (Jason Mitchell), forge a fast but uneasy friendship that challenges the brutal realities of the Jim Crow South in which they live.
“Mudbound is an epic film that feels like an instant American classic: timeless and yet strikingly relevant to issues our country is facing today,” said NOFS Artistic Director Clint Bowie of the festival’s Centerpiece Film.
After receiving a record number of nearly 5000 entries for the 2017 competition lineup—an increase of over 20 percent from 2016—the festival’s seasoned team of programmers carefully curated a slate of original, affecting, and provocative films. Entries came from 109 different countries. Overall, directors of selected films represent 44 different nationalities. This year, Louisiana-made films represent 29 percent of the lineup.
After Louie | dir. Vincent Gagliostro
Sam worked as an artist and activist through the early years of AIDS, and the younger generation of gay men has left him bewildered. That is, until he meets Braeden. A relationship blossoms between them, reawakening Sam’s artistic soul and wilted heart.
Damascene | dir. Freddy Syborn
WORLD PREMIERE. Frank and Inez meet while biking to a party. They went out at university, but they haven’t seen each other for nine years. Their journey through the streets of London, captured on their helmet GoPros, brings to light old stories and old secrets.
Rift | dir. ErlingurThoroddsen
After receiving a disturbing late-night call from his volatile ex, Gunnar drives through the night to a secluded cabin below a glacier, where the two men are haunted by their dead relationship.
Sambá | dir. Laura Amelia Guzmán, Israel Cárdenas
Cisco returns home to the Dominican Republic after doing time in a U.S. prison but soon finds that the only way he can make a buck is through loosely organized street fights. When a former boxing coach shows interest, they discover there is atonement for both of them in the game.
She’s Allergic to Cats | dir. Michael Reich
A dog groomer living in a rat-infested Hollywood dive struggles to raise money for an all-cat remake of Carrie.
Snowy Bing Bongs Across the North Star Combat Zone | dir. Rachel Wolther, Alex H. Fischer
Bing Bong (n. /biNGbäNG/) A pre-historic future lady creature. Soft and dangerous. “Three bing bongs awaken to the morning light, an epic battle awaits them.”
The World of Which We Dream Doesn’t Exist | dir. AyoubQanir
U.S. PREMIERE. In Central Asia, a Mongolian shaman is visited by an ancient spirit with a message to embark on a grand journey in a world where multiple generations thrive with and alongside shamanic magic.
Victor’s History | dir. Nicolas Chevaillier
WORLD PREMIERE. A proud son hires a documentary filmmaker to immortalize his father’s legacy. Tensions flare up between filmmaker and subject—a rookie cameraman is caught in the cross fire—as the three travel across France unearthing family secrets.
Wexford Plaza | dir. Joyce Wong
A dark comedy about a lonely female security guard who works at a dilapidated strip mall. Isolated and friendless, a glimmer of hope appears when a charming make-up salesman shows Betty kindness, leading to an unexpected sexual encounter.
Young and Innocent | dir. Jesse Robinson
During the hot days of summer, Marion runs away from camp and checks into a seedy motel where she meets a man named Norman. They begin a friendship, though Marion begins to have dreams of another young girl who’s recently gone missing in the area.
Ask the Sexpert | dir. Vaishali Sinha
U.S. PREMIERE. 90-year-old Dr. MahinderWatsa is an institution on page 34 of the Mumbai Mirror, doling out on-demand sex advice to a faithful readership. Meanwhile a ban on comprehensive sex education in schools is adopted by approximately a third of India’s states.
Burqa Boxers | dir. AlkaRaghuram
In a culture that values beauty, delicacy, and submission as the ultimate feminine traits, young Muslim women in Kolkata challenge stereotypes, learning boxing with one of the first Indian women to become a boxing coach and an international referee.
Communion (Komunia) | dir. Anna Zamecka
Ola is 14 and takes care of her dysfunctional father, autistic brother, and a mother who lives separately; but most of all she tries to reunite the family. Her 13-year-old brother Nikodem’s Holy Communion is a pretext for the family to come together.
Horace Tapscott: Musical Griot | dir. Barbara McCullough
A poetic meditation on the strength of African American music and activism embodied in the history of Los Angeles through the life of musician, composer, and community activist Horace Tapscott (1934-1999).
Love and Saucers | dir. Brad Abrahams
The story of David Huggins, a 73-year-old man who claims to have had a lifetime of encounters with otherworldly beings—including a romance with an extra-terrestrial woman, and chronicled it all in surreal impressionist paintings.
Olancho | dir. Chris Valdés, Ted Griswold
Manuel, a farmer from Olancho, Honduras, seeks fame by making music for the region’s drug cartels. When some of his song lyrics get him in trouble, he must make the most difficult decision of his life: continue the quest for fame, or flee.
The Organizer | dir. Nick Taylor
WORLD PREMIERE. A feature length documentary about the life, times, and philosophy of community organizer Wade Rathke.
Pow Wow | dir. Robinson Devor
An elderly Austrian heiress, a Native American family, a bitter Las Vegas comedian, and a cadre of white golfers throwing their club’s annual “pow wow” party, join in a portrait of the garish contrasts of the Coachella Valley in Palm Springs.
The Thunder Feast (Truenos de San Juan) | dir. Santiago Maza Stern
U.S. PREMIERE.The ancient tradition of a town and its patron saint changes when devotion is mixed with explosives.
The World Is Mine | dir. Ann Oren
U.S. PREMIERE. A western Cosplayer of cyber diva HatsuneMiku moves to Tokyo to get to know the HatsuneMiku fandom. Her journey explores identity through cosplay and the collective fantasy of this phenom.
AS IS by Nick Cave | dir. Evan Falbaum
Director Evan Falbaum spent 12 months in Shreveport, Louisiana, with visual artist Nick Cave and captured the profound way in which he delivers his message of change to the Shreveport community.
Cut Off | dir. Jowan Carbin
WORLD PREMIERE. Struggling with his new life in New Orleans, Clive follows Trevor, a former professor, to his country home on the bayou to gain a new perspective. While Trevor helps Clive deal with his demons, Clive is sucked into a mission to kill.
Do U Want It? | dir. Josh Freund, Sam Radutzky
An exploration and celebration of the musical culture of New Orleans, and the complex nature of success, through the story of beloved New Orleans band Papa Grows Funk.
Fat Tuesday | dir. Jorge Torres-Torres
WORLD PREMIERE. Behind the mask of Mardi Gras, something sinister stalks the streets of New Orleans. Filmed on-location during the final days of Carnival, a group of friends is picked off one by one by a mysterious killer.
Hate Crime | dir. Steven Esteb
As a killer is executed for murdering a young gay man, two sets of parents struggle to deal with the consequences of fear and repression.
Isleños, a Root of America | dir. Eduardo Cubillo
U.S. PREMIERE. A travel in time throughout North American history, dealing with a community in St. Bernard Parish largely unknown by the general public with significant and unique influence on politics, arts, war conflicts, and American society.
On Our Watch | dir. Jonathan Evans
WORLD PREMIERE. Louisiana is facing a coastal land loss crisis. If nothing is done, Louisiana’s wetlands, industries, people, and culture are in danger of being washed away.
The Power of Glove | dir. Adam Ward, Andrew Austin
U.S. PREMIERE. Released by Mattel in 1989, the Power Glove was hyped as a device that would change the way humans interact with computers. Thirty years later, a small but dedicated fanbase has brought new life to the Power Glove by hacking and repurposing it.
Sick to Death! | dir. Maggie Hadleigh-West
WORLD PREMIERE. After drinking radioactive iodine to kill her overactive thyroid, filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West catapults into illness only to run smack into the medical corruption that is shredding the fabric of millions of lives all over the world.
Small Town Rage: Fighting Back in the Deep South | dir. Raydra Hall, David Hylan
Examines the work and influence of the AIDS activist group ACT UP Shreveport and the challenges that come with advocating for people living with AIDS in the conservative Deep South.