The 28th annual New Orleans Film Festival will feature the work of several University of New Orleans students, alumni and faculty. The New Orleans Film Society is set to hold its signature event Oct. 11-19 at multiple venues around the city.
In addition to the University’s role in cultivating artistic talent on display at the festival, it is also a common link among several who play a key role in the production of this year’s event. An alumnus of UNO’s MFA program, Jonathan Kieran, serves as this year’s festival program coordinator. The team of festival screeners who reviewed film submissions included UNO faculty members Henry Griffin, Erik Hansen and Laura J. Medina and film program alumni Rashada Fortier and Cypriene Oliver. Angela Catalano, an adjunct faculty member, will provide venue, technical and logistical support as a member of the festival staff.
On Thursday, Oct. 12, “The Farewell Rag” will be screened at the Ace Hotel along with other short films produced by Louisiana filmmakers. This film was directed by faculty member and screenwriting artist-in-residence Henry Griffin, and the crew included more than 40 UNO students. It was produced as a UNO spring film, an annual group project involving current film students.
On Friday, Oct. 13, two UNO students will participate in the “Pitch Perfect” competition, where emerging filmmakers have just a few minutes to describe their film concepts or works-in-progress to a panel of film professionals and industry insiders who offer on-the-spot constructive feedback and select a winning pitch. In this competition, two categories are open only to students from southern universities, and winners receive cameras, software and other prizes. Graduate student Langston Williams will represent UNO in the narrative film pitch contest, and David "Stormy" Leonard will represent UNO in the documentary pitch contest. They will compete against students from Florida State University, Loyola University, Wake Forest University, University of Alabama, University of Texas at Austin, Southeastern Louisiana University and Auburn University.
On Friday evening, “Foreign Body” makes its world premiere at the Prytania Theater. Directed by Andrea Kuehnel, an alumna of UNO’s MFA program, the 9-minute piece tells the story of a paralyzed ballerina who undergoes a body transplant and struggles with the implications.
Another world premiere directed by an MFA alumna happens Sunday, Oct. 15 at the Ace Hotel. “Morning Steph,” directed Maja Holzinger, is a 12-minute short in which the main character, after a night of partying, commits to staying home and spending sober time by herself. Holzinger also directed a music video that will be screened multiple times during the festival. The video features a punk band from Myanmar called Rebel Riot and their song “Street Punx Oi!”
Finally, a piece directed by MFA alumnus Andrew Bryan will be shown Tuesday, Oct. 17 at Canal Place. The piece is the pilot episode of a series called “Shepherd,” which centers around a Catholic priest in New Orleans who is fed up with the crime and murder plaguing his inner city community and decides to take matters into his own hands. In the pilot, Father Joseph is called to action after a little girl is murdered on his church’s steps. Tortured by his past, he exacts vigilante justice on those who wreak havoc on his community. Starring as Father Joseph is Lance Nichols, known for his roles in HBO’s “Treme” series and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.”
Details about screenings and other festival events can be found here.