The New Orleans Film Festival Starts Friday with 180 Films and New Features


The New Orleans Film Society is preparing for its 22nd annual Film Festival beginning on Friday, October 14th, and is expected to be their largest yet after the evident success of 2010. After a 40% increase in attendees last year, the festival is projected to generate about 10,000 this year, although more may be expected after the progress the society has made over the months. While also connecting film aficionados with meaningful experiences through cinematic pieces, the festival’s goal is to help filmmakers exhibit their creations to a broad audience and continue to promote New Orleans as an epicenter for film production.

With the addition of their new executive director Jolene Pinder, the society has tripled their membership, generated more year-around support, and added new initiatives over the past year to further achieve their mission of engaging, educating and inspiring people through the art of film.

Pinder, a documentary film producer from New York, joined the film society’s staff in January after having been invited last year to be a juror at the festival as well as a candidate for the newly created position. Along with the society’s Art Director and founding member, John Desplas, they have instituted new programs and more films to the festival, providing everyone with something to enjoy.

This year, 180 remarkable films will be showcased, each only screening once at several venues throughout the city including The Theatres at Canal Place, Prytania Theatre, Contemporary Arts Center,  Second Line stages, Zeitgeist, and NOLA Drive-In just to name a few of the hosts. Panels, awards, parties, and competitions also add to the schedule of week-long events.

The festival’s signature “I Love Louisiana Day” on Sunday, October 16th has tripled their lineup this year to exhibit more films and filmmakers from Louisiana.  Besides celebrating the state through film, panels will be held to discuss and interact with those who are building the film industry and further aiding the economic development in Louisiana. At 1 PM, Cafe Istanbul in the New Orleans Healing center will host “Building A Local Sustainable Film/Technology Eco-system” to bring together people from the media industry and government leaders working in film to discuss tax credits, film grants, and tech start-ups.  All are welcome to join in the conversation and learn more about continuing the creative economic drive in New Orleans and developing more strategic, economically viable partnerships that have been possible due to the growing film and media industry.

The film festival also proudly presents several new initiatives that are being launched this year, further creating more options for film-lovers of all spectrums to enjoy.  “OUTakes,” presented by Harrah’s Casino, will feature some of the most esteemed LGBT-related films from around the world.The films range from narrative shorts to documentary features and will be screening throughout the week at several hosting venues.

"The Swell Season,” a black and white music documentary about the folk-rock band, is screening at the festival as part of one of the festival’s new features, Keeping{SCORE}.

As an integral part in both the New Orleans culture and films, music has also been integrated into this year’s festival with “Keeping{SCORE}.” This new initiative is an effort to showcase a series of films about music and musicians, as well as highlight the relationship between both with live music performances before the screenings.

The society has also created a student pitch competition this year with contestants from schools throughout Louisiana and the nation as well. The contestants will have 5 minutes to pitch a panel of 5 – 7 judges for a chance to win a prize package that will help them create their narrative or documentary. The competition gives students the opportunity to practice pitching their projects and representing their ideas, all skills that are not normally fostered in film school.

With the new additions to this years schedule of events, Pinder and the society aspire to continue the festival’s growth with the prominence of the film industry and creative talent in Louisiana. As a filmmaker herself, she also understands the exposure and opportunities the film festival offers to other creatives in the film industry, as well as the hard work it takes for them to get there.

“Each festival has it’s own niche and flavor,” says Pinder on the importance of the annual festival. “The New Orleans Film Festival focuses on showing films that would otherwise never come to New Orleans, showcasing local talent, bringing together music and film to engage the audience, and further supporting Louisiana’s film industry.”

Pinder also explains that, while NOFF’s niche and purpose is different than that of some more well-known festivals such as Sundance who focuses on premiering independent films, she certainly hopes that the festival will reach their level and esteem one day.  Judging by the progress the society has made in recent years, the New Orleans Film Festival may reach and exceed her expectations sooner than imagined.

Adriana Lopez writes about the entrepreneurial community for NolaVie and Silicon Bayou News. She also showcases local start-ups such as the one profiled here through her non-profit organization GenNOLA. For more information on NolaVie, visit