The New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) has announced the lineup for their 25th annual film festival. “Black and White,” a drama starring Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer will open, with blues documentary “The Big Beat” closing the fest.
Shot in New Orleans, “Black and White” stars Costner as a widowed grandfather who must raise his biracial granddaughter. Problems ensue with the young girl’s paternal grandmother, played by Octavia Spencer, who also wants custody. Meanwhile, “The Big Beat” also explores New Orleans, this time through a profile of legends Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew.
In addition to these two films, NOFS has announced their Narrative and Documentary Competition, a contest where feature films will compete for a prize. The festival will take place from October 16-23, all around New Orleans.
Check out the 14 films that will show and compete below (descriptions courtesy of NOFS):
NARRATIVE FILMS IN COMPETITION:
“Buttercup Bill” (dir. Émilie Richard-Froozan & Rémy Bennett)
This New Orleans–shot feature centers on the psycho-sexual romance between Patrick and Pernilla—mutually obsessed soul mates clinging to childhood secrets. Closer to twins separated at birth than friends or lovers, their volatile, whiskey-soaked relationship oscillates between fairy-tale innocence and sadomasochism. Love and cruelty are one in this dreamlike haze of obsession. Featuring musical sequences with Hurray for the Riff Raff.
“Dig Two Graves” (dir. Hunter Adams)
The mysterious death of a young boy triggers the unearthing of a town’s long buried secrets in this debut feature from Hunter Adams. One part Gothic thriller, one part black comedy, and one part Dickensian mystery, “Dig Two Graves” dramatizes the cycle of violence that perpetuates itself over generations in a small backwoods town. This film was workshopped in the Independent Feature Project (IFP) labs.
“Love Land” (dir. Josh Tate)
When Ivy, an aspiring tattoo artist, finds herself in a Texas institution for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, she hatches a scheme to manipulate a fellow resident with Down Syndrome in order to escape the facility and reunite with her boyfriend. Featuring a leading cast with intellectual and developmental disabilities, “Love Land” tells a universal story of labels, love and liberty. **World Premiere**
“Manhattan Romance” (dir. Tom O’Brien)
In this movie about making a movie, a TV commercial editor is consumed by his latest passion project: a documentary that examines the nature and variety of intimate relationships in New York City. Danny’s fascination with the details of others’ romance is juxtaposed with hilarity and heartbreak to the solitary nature of his own. This indie romantic comedy is a love letter to New York itself—and features standout performances from Katherine Waterston (the lead actress in Paul Thomas Anderson’s upcoming “Inherent Vice”), Caitlin Fitzgerald (“Masters of Sex”) and Gaby Hoffman (“Crystal Fairy,” “Girls”). **World Premiere**
“Proud Citizen” (dir. Thom Southerland)
Krasimira Stanimirova wins second place in a Bulgarian play-writing contest, and her award is a trip to the United States, Kentucky to be exact, to see the world premiere of her Communist- era, autobiographical play. Expecting to be met with a warm welcome and “Southern hospitality,” she instead finds herself isolated and lonely in a hotel off an interstate. Exploring America on foot, Krasi ruminates on her complicated past as she confronts the reality that her play might not be such a big deal. Along the way she slowly finds comfort amongst strangers in this alien world, including a young mother and her son.
“Sabbatical” (dir. Brandon Colvin)
Ben Hardin, a middle-aged scholar, returns home to care for his ill mother during his scheduled writing sabbatical. While home, faced with the remnants of a life he left behind, Ben’s relationships with estranged friends and family are tested. Routine becomes reenactment, as past traumas are refreshed and agitated. “Sabbatical” is constructed to evoke the melancholy mood of returning home—not the glowing warmth of nostalgia or the restful ease of vacation- like escape, but the evacuated feeling that sets in beyond those initial sensations.
“Sunbelt Express” (dir. Evan Wolf Buxbaum)
Set along the Arizona/Mexico border, this film is about a down-on-his luck ex-teacher (Tate Donovan), who, after getting fired for plagiarizing a student’s work, has just about hit rock bottom. He now begrudgingly shuttles immigrants across the border illegally in the trunk of his car—for cash. Meanwhile, his ex-wife is in the heat of a conservative campaign for State Senate, and his teenage daughter has started spying on him to see where he disappears to on the weekends. **North American Premiere**
DOCUMENTARY FILMS IN COMPETITION:
“61 Bullets” (dir. David Modigliani)
“61 Bullets” looks at the complicated—and still disputed—story of the assassination of Huey Long, the populist U.S. Senator from Louisiana who remains one of the most colorful and contentious figures in American history. Seventy-five years after the assassination, the son of Long’s alleged killer and his family delve into a painful past to question the official story. Not a film about conspiracy theories, or a one-sided shot at vindication, the film is, instead, a Louisiana mystery revealed through an emotional journey, told through the eyes of compelling present-day characters and exploring themes of father-son relationships, justice and how history is formed. **World Premiere**
“Big Moccasin” (dir. Chelsea & Andrew Moynehan)
An intimate look into the lives of four people who live on Big Moccasin Rd., a 20-mile stretch of pavement in the Appalachian Mountains of southwest Virginia. Realized with an astonishing intimacy, the film is a slice of Americana that digs deep into a lost world whose memories and presences still linger in the very fabric of American Culture. **North American Premiere**
“Dwarves Kingdom” (dir. Matthew Salton)
Curious tourists flock to a theme park in China, where about 100 little people live and put on musical and dance routines. While critics liken the park to a human zoo, many of the little people who work there see the park as a chance to live in a community that understands them. Through interviews and rich observational footage, the film uncovers the soul-stirring and ultimately life-affirming stories of these people who live and perform in this unique and controversial setting. This film marks the exciting debut feature of Matthew Salton.
“Meet the Hitlers” (dir. Matt Ogens)
“Meet the Hitlers” examines the relationship between names and identity by exploring the lives of people who are linked by the name “Hitler.” A character study, the film offers an intimate portrait of its subjects, whose reactions to their name span the spectrum of human experience, from tragedy to comedy and heartbreak to hope. The film marks the second feature documentary from Emmy-nominated filmmaker Matt Ogens, his first being the critically acclaimed “Confessions of a Superhero” (2007). **World Premiere**
“Of Kites and Borders” (dir. Yolanda Pividal)
“Of Kites and Borders” tells the story of the daily struggle of living on the U.S.-Mexico border, as told through the eyes of four working children in the city of Tijuana. Profiled are a teen border smuggler, a nine-year-old dumpster scavenger and a pair of young brothers who perform wrestling matches at busy street intersections for spare change. The film is a story of hope, struggle and survival that digs behind newspaper headlines to explore life on the other side of the wall and the underlying context of immigration.
“When the Bell Rings” (dir. Brad Bores)
When 40-year-old former boxer David “Dino” Wells makes a gutsy attempt to return to fighting, he finds that his 15-year absence from the sport has left him in need of intense training. He tackles his return with determination and grit, battling his own body as well as skeptical coaches and ruthless promoters. Meanwhile, he’s also tormented by memories of a fatherless childhood, which drive him to take on another challenge: reuniting with his estranged son in New Orleans. **World Premiere**
“Where God Likes to Be” (dir. Nicolas Hudak)
This lyrical documentary portrays what it means to be Native American today—taking a personal and cinematic journey into the heart of the Blackfeet Indian reservation in Montana. It follows three young protagonists over the course of one summer, marked by a turning point in each of their lives as they must decide if they want to leave home to attend college or stay and struggle with life on the impoverished reservation.