New Orleans film festival returns to city

With this year marking its 18th anniversary, the New Orleans Film Festival’s annual gala will be returning home since its brief break after the storm. From Oct. 11 through Oct. 18, the festival will a showcase of national and international short films and movies.

Dubbed as “Cannes on the Mississippi,” the festival has been a city-wide event hosted by the New Orleans Film Society since 1989. This year’s festival is titled “Zoom In” and will kick off with a red-carpet, Hollywood-style gala in the Warehouse District Oct. 11. The party will continue over the week as movies are premiered at venues across the city, including the Canal Place Cinema, Prytania Theatre and Contemporary Arts Theatre.

Following Hurricane Katrina, the Film Society did not produce the festival due to the tribulations brought on by the storm but this year, they are returning with a bang.

Highlights of the “In Competition” portion of the festival include a stand-up comedy concert by actor Vince Vaughn (Jurassic Park, The Break-Up) and a questionnaire session with writer/director Vince Morelli (Left Behind). A film that is slated to come out on top is filmmaker Rick Ray’s 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama, a film that will be shown three times during the course of the festival. The film has already won an award at the 2006 Berkeley Video & Film Festival.

Other films that will be highlighted include The Walker, a socialite drama starring Woody Harrelson (Cheers) and Emmy award-winning Lily Tomlin (The West Wing, The Magic School Bus), as well as Left Behind: The Story of the New Orleans Public Schools, a documentary about the lives of three high school seniors in the New Orleans public school system in the film.

Tickets for the event are on sale to the general public, starting at $8.00 for each separate film and going up to $200 for all films at all venues throughout the festival. Tickets for the gala are $300. The Film Congress’ panels and workshops, which will take place at the Contemporary Arts Center and Swelltone Labs, are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of all films and events of the Festival, see the New Orleans Film Society Webpage at