New Orleans Film Fest 2010

I love love love film festivals. During the summer of 2004, I had two internships in Los Angeles and was at the Los Angeles Film Festival. It was an amazing experience - 10 days FULL OF MOVIES from up and coming film makers starring top talent, as well as soon to be released independent films that were making the circuit rounds. Not only were there all types of movies- documentaries, shorts, narratives-there would be great panels and question/answer periods following the film with the filmmakers and actors. That experience solidified my desire to be a filmmaker.

When I moved to New Orleans, I was thrilled to see they had a film festival but was hesitant to believe it would be any good. Last year was my first year and I must say I was impressed: I got to see several great indie films made by Louisiana natives as well as Francis Ford Coppola's TETRO, his first original screenplay in four decades! I knew I'd go back again this year and was beyond excited when the list of films playing was announced. I bought a six film pass and even booked a hotel in town so that I can see as many movies as possible this weekend (work makes the weekday screenings near impossible).

I saw some great narrative shorts during the day, my fav being THE CYCLE centered around a Bed Stuy community. Last night several friends and I went to go see NIGHT CATCHES US. It was starring Kerry Washington and New Orleans native Anthony Mackie. The film was written, directed and produced by Tanya Hamilton (a woman!!!) and was her debut film. We were in for a special treat as Anthony Mackie was on hand to introduce the movie as well as do questions and answers after. The film was beautifully shot, featured great talent (including that guy who played Marlo in The Wire-I still don't like him b/c of that role lol), and had a nice storyline. Mackie was awesome - backstory: one of my old bosses repped Frankie Flowers who wrote and directed HAVEN in which Mackie starred. Since then I've been a fan of his work and always admired how as an African-American actor, he found compelling independent roles. He's someone I consider to be a thespian as opposed to just an actor because he appears to really seek out roles that most people don't think exist. He's played a bit of everything including the late Tupac Shakur. I'm a fan so when he got up to answer questions, I had to ask how he got his representation to be on board with his decisions to do these smaller films (my experience in the management world taught me that most people go for the money roles and don't value the indie route).

His response was that he got people who understood his vision from the beginning. He elaborated by saying that when pursuing acting or any artistic craft you must be true to only one person: YOU! He said this is a business where you can do what you want regardless of other people's thoughts or opinions. He encouraged us to really pursue what we desired, the stories we wanted to tell because at the end of the day, that is all that matters. (And he said his team really reviews material presented correctly and they read a lot-not everything, but all of the compelling projects get a look).

That was the highlight of the fest for me (even though I have a whole day of movies to see today). My passion for this is so charged and I'm excited for all that is to come for me creatively. Film festivals are encouraging and remind me that it can be done! And what better place than New Orleans to be reminded that anything is possible!!!

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