It Pays to Think Ahead

Summer pre-sale passes to the New Orleans Film Festival are the cheapest way to be a V.I.P. this 30th anniversary season.

Almost every October since Biz started almost five years ago, I’ve taken this space to write about the New Orleans Film Festival (NOFF), which takes place that month. This year, though, I’m getting a jump start on things because it’s a big year for the festival and for movie-lovers like me, NOFS is offering a pretty good deal I thought I’d share.

In just a few months, from Oct. 16-23, NOFS will showcase more than 240 films — the work of more than 500 filmmakers. While Downtown’s Contemporary Arts Center will serve as the home base for this event with its two theaters, there will also be screenings around the city at the Prytania Theatre, The Broad Theater, Orpheum Theater and The New Orleans Advocate’s 180-seat theater.

While the full lineup won’t be released until mid-August, the New Orleans Film Society (NOFS), is offering a very strong incentive to buy an all-access pass now. Through July 9, pre-sale all-access passes are $240 for members and $290 for the general public — a savings of $50, or $100 off if you’re a NOFS member — and with annual individual memberships for $60 and two person memberships for $100 basically you’re getting a membership for free. So, you save money and get a free membership that gives you more than 15 free, exclusive screenings and discounts on other passes, events and tickets — including on sneak previews of new releases and the popular annual French Film Festival.

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What does an all-access pass buy you? First, priority entrance into all film screenings and access to a V.I.P. lounge. And then of course, being New Orleans, there are the parties. Purchasing an all-access pass is the only way to attend the parties held every night of the festival. Note: NOFF was recognized as one of the coolest festivals in the world in 2017 by MovieMaker Magazine, in part due to the festival’s nightly parties.

As of the latest data I could find (from 2013) there are about 3,000 film festivals in the world. And while we’re not one of the “Big Three” — Cannes, Berlin and Venice — NOFF gets more recognition every year, and for good reason. The festival has a clear eye for quality: Films chosen to open the festival in three of the past eight years have gone on to win Academy Awards for best picture, including The Artist in 2011, 12 Years a Slave in 2013 and Greenbook in 2019. NOFF has showcased more than 60 films in the past 10 years that have went on to receive Oscar nominations.

Our red carpet isn’t so bad either. Lupita N’yongo, Woody Harrelson, Jessica Biel, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patricia Clarkson, Gabourey Sidibe — they’ve all headed down to New Orleans to be a part of the festival. We’ve also hosted world-renowned filmmakers like Steve McQueen, Agnieszka Holland, Julie Dash, D. A. Pennebaker, Peter Farrelly, Taylor Hackford and Rob Reiner.

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For filmmakers and actors, especially local ones, the New Orleans Film Society and Film Festival represent an invaluable local resource. An example of this was just seen this past spring when native New Orleanian Phillip Youmans, at only 19 years old, became both the youngest and first African-American filmmaker to win for “Best Narrative Film” at the Tribeca Film Festival. His film, Burning Cane, was created with the help of the “Youth Grant” funded by the New Orleans Film Society.   

For those of us in the seats, however, NOFF is simply a great chance to sit back, relax and immerse yourself in some incredible stories — many filmed in our own backyard.


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