The Louisiana International Film Festival will hold its inaugural event April 18-21 in Baton Rouge and New Orleans to celebrate indigenous and international films. Filmmaker Dan Ireland ("The Whole Wide World") and producer Jeff Dowd ("Zebrahead"), famously the inspiration for the Dude in the Coen Bros.' "The Big Lebowski," have been named co-artistic directors of the new fest.
The first submission deadline is January 7 through WithoutABox.com.
LIFF also involves a mentorship program and will present a special photo and multimedia exhibition by civil rights movement photojournalist and author Bob Adelman. The launch comes at a time when Shreveport has become one of the highest-profile locations for outside-of-Hollywood film production.
"We founded the Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program to act as a conduit for our state's ample and untapped creativity," said festival executive director Chesley Heymsfield. "LIFF is more than a film festival; it is a bridge between the local people who dream of becoming filmmakers and those veteran artists who know that mentorship can help to promote social change through direct access to opportunity. The Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program exists to promote Louisiana's budding film industry year-round with mentorship and education while at the same time nurturing the state's international reputation as a place of — and showcase for — artistic creativity."
Record producer Alan V. Abrahams (Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson) has been named music program director of the festival. Film producer and photographer Clinton H. Wallace will serve as strategic partnerships coordinator, while actress Shanna Forrestall (“The Last Exorcism,” “Olympus Has Fallen”) will act as Louisiana liaison to interface between local and out-of-state talent.
In addition to his filmmaking, Ireland co-founded the Seattle Film Festival and served as co-director in 1976. Dowd was on the board of the Independent Feature Project and the International Documentary Association, and he served on the Sundance Film Festival advisory board in its early years.
"The Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program is rising up from a world where uniquely American storytelling and musical forms like blues and jazz were born," said Dowd. "Today, we combine Louisiana's rich culture, a vibrant musical scene and New Orleans Jazz Fest, and the best tax incentive program in the United States with filmmakers highlighting Louisiana's diversity and culture — which has survived in the face of monumental adversity in the last decade. We intend to empower a new generation to be able to tell stories with the oldest and latest tools of the trade. My vision includes job creation within the 'industry' and also in the sustainable economy of the future when some of these new artists show what is possible."