The documentary A Tuba to Cuba which follows New Orleans’ famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they retrace their musical roots to the shores of Cuba will be the Closing Night film of the 29th New Orleans Film Festival. The film underscores the festival’s programmatic focus on films from and about the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora, particularly those that speak to the historical and cultural ties between New Orleans and the Caribbean.
This year the feature competition lineup includes ten narrative feature films, eight documentary feature films, and eight feature films made in Louisiana. The 2018 Festival which will take place from October 17th through October 25th boasts the most diverse line-up in the festival’s history – with 60% of films by female directors and 54% by directors of color, and 80% from either a female director or director of color.
The New Orleans Film Society will warm up for the 29th New Orleans Film Festival with a special preview of the feature film BLAZE, directed by Ethan Hawke, on Tuesday, August 29th at the Orpheum Theater!
BLAZE is a biopic of Texas outlaw music’s unsung legend Blaze Foley, written by Ethan Hawke and Blaze Foley’s former sweetheart, Sybil Rosen. Rosen will attend the screening at the Orpheum Theater for a Q&A session on the 29th. Hawke approached Rosen about the project after reading her own telling of Foley’s story in the book “Living in the Woods in a Tree.” The lead role of Foley is played by newcomer Ben Dickey (a musician by trade), and fans of Netflix’s Arrested Development will spot Alia Shawkat as the female lead (Sybil Rosen). Rosen plays her own mother in the film. Blaze was filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and opened at Sundance Film Festival 2018.
CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
A Tuba to Cuba | dir. T.G. Herrington, Danny Clinch | USA
A TUBA TO CUBA follows New Orleans’ famed Preservation Hall Jazz Band as they retrace their musical roots from the storied city of jazz to the shores of Cuba and in turn discover a connection that runs much deeper than could have been imagined.
NARRATIVE FEATURES COMPETITION
Chained for Life | dir. Aaron Schimberg | USA
A beautiful actress struggles to connect with her disfigured co-star on the crowded set of a European auteur’s English-language debut.
Empty Metal | dir. Adam Khalil, Bayley Sweitzer | USA
SOUTHERN U.S. PREMIERE. A trio of aimless musicians are caught up in a shadow revolution governed by psychic native separatists, sovereign citizens, survivalist preppers, and steered by a dreadlocked rasta.
Family First | dir. Sophie Dupuis | Canada
Constantly walking a tightrope, JP tries to maintain a proper balance between the numerous needs of his family, his job with his brother, and his involvements in his uncle’s drug cartel.
Fort Maria | dir. S. Cagney Gentry, Thomas Southerland | USA
Four women in the South are connected by the death of a dog.
A Haunting Hitchhike | dir. Heejae Jeong | South Korea
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. 16-year-old girl Jeong-ae is on her way to find her long-lost mother, believing that she’s the only hope left to her.
Jules of Light and Dark | dir. Daniel Laabs | USA
WORLD PREMIERE. Two young lovers, Maya and Jules, are found wrecked on the side of the road in North Texas by a loner roughneck, Freddy. As her relationship crumbles, Maya forms a friendship with Freddy, whose past mistakes and experiences offer her insights on her life.
Life is Fare | dir. Sephora Woldu | Eritrea, USA
Sephora, an idealistic young Eritrean American, pitches a well-meaning but ludicrous film about identity, memory, and homesickness to her traditional mother.
Pig Film | dir. Josh Gibson | USA
NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE. In an empty world, a solitary female mechanically follows the protocols of a factory hog farm. Her labors are sporadically punctuated by musical rhapsodies as she moves toward the impending end.
Solace | dir. Tchaiko Omawale | USA
SOUTHERN U.S. PREMIERE. A 17-year-old orphan is shipped off to her estranged grandmother. She plots her escape while navigating a foreign environment, new friendships and a hidden eating disorder.
Waru | dir. Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ainsley Gardiner, Katie Wolfe, Chelsea Winstanley, Renae Maihi, Paula Whetu Jones | New Zealand
Following the death of a child, eight Māori women are confronted by guilt, pride and defeat but will ultimately risk everything for the greater good of their community.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURES COMPETITION
América | dir. Erick Stoll, Chase Whiteside | Mexico
América is a story of brothers confronting the chasm between adolescent yearning and adult realities when brought together to care for their ailing ninety-three year old grandmother.
For the Birds | dir. Richard Miron | USA
A woman’s love for her pet ducks, chickens, geese, and turkeys—all 200 of them—ignites a battle with local animal rescuers and puts her marriage in jeopardy.
Gimme A Faith | dir. Hao Zhang | China, USA
WORLD PREMIERE. Two evangelical Christians in the Bible Belt of the United States are devoted to converting newly arrived Chinese international students.
Jaddoland | dir. Nadia Shihab | Kuwait, USA
WORLD PREMIERE. A visit to her mother’s home art studio in Texas prompts the filmmaker to explore the meaning of home and the search for belonging across three generations of her Iraqi family.
Man Made | dir. T Cooper | USA
Traces the paths of four transgender male bodybuilders as they prepare to step on stage at the only all-trans bodybuilding competition in the world.
The Unafraid | dir. Heather Courtney, Anayansi Prado | USA
A look at the personal lives of three DACA students in Georgia, a state that has banned them from attending their top state universities and disqualifies them from receiving in-state tuition at any other public college.
While I Breathe, I Hope | dir. Emily Harrold | USA
WORLD PREMIERE. This film explores what it means to be young, Black, and a Democrat through the experiences of South Carolina politician Bakari Sellers.
Wrestle | dir. Suzannah Herbert, Lauren Belfer | USA
The wrestling team at JO Johnson High School in Huntsville, which has been on Alabama’s failing schools list for many years, fights their way towards the State Championship and the doors they hope it will open.
LOUISIANA FEATURES COMPETITION
Bending Lines: The Sculpture of Robert Wiggs | dir. Allison Bohl DeHart, Peter DeHart | USA
Obsessed with the repeating geometry of nature, a sculptor works in the space between art and science.
Buckjumping | dir. Lily Keber | USA
WORLD PREMIERE. Buckjumping takes the pulse of present-day New Orleans by turning to its dancers, the men and women who embody the rhythm of the city and prove it on the streets every chance they get.
Mississippi Madam: The Life of Nellie Jackson | dir. Timothy Givens, Mark K. Brockway | USA
In 1902 Nellie Jackson, an African-American woman born into poverty in Possum Corner, Mississippi, traveled north to Natchez and opened “Nellie’s”, a brothel she ran for more than sixty years.
Same God | dir. Linda Midgett | USA
The first African American woman to gain tenure at “the evangelical Harvard” faces a life-altering backlash to her public show of solidarity with American Muslims.
The True Don Quixote | dir. Chris Poché | USA
WORLD PREMIERE. Danny Kehoe lives an ordinary life that leaves him bored nearly to death. His only escape is in his collection of books and comics, all recounting, with great inaccuracy, the romantic tales of the chivalrous Knights Errant. When those books are taken away, he goes mad. In his desperation, he re-christens himself as the last and greatest knight of all, Don Quixote.
This Little Light | dir. Ada McMahon, Wendi Moore-O’Neal | USA
When Black feminist freedom singer Wendi Moore-O’Neal married her now wife, Mandisa, she was fired from her job as a community organizer. This is a self-determined portrait about the Black Southern Freedom movement.
This Taco Truck Kills Fascists | dir. Rodrigo Dorfman | USA
WORLD PREMIERE. Jose Torres-Tama is on a mission: to create a revolutionary Taco Truck Theatre with a simple message: “No guacamole for immigrant haters”.
Tomorrow Never Knows | dir. Adam Sekuler | USA
The uncomfortable reality of death is faced by Shar and Cynthia who, upon Shar’s diagnosis with early-onset Alzheimer’s, make a brave and difficult decision.