Your Guide to the 2017 New Orleans Film Festival: Films, Events, Parties

noffWhat started off as a small festival 28 years ago has grown into a large-scale production attracting more than 20,000 people from around the world. In fact, MovieMaker Magazine ranks the New Orleans Film Festival as one of the "25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World."

With more than 200 movies, multiple panels, conversations, roundtables, parties and receptions, navigating the festival for the first time can be a bit overwhelming.

Here's a breakdown on how to make the most of your experience. (Here's a hint: Invest is an All Access Pass...it's well worth it!)

Films

The New Orleans Film Festival will feature approximately 240 films this year. Film genres range from Louisiana shorts to blockbuster films and everything in between. A full schedule of films can be found on the festival’s website. You’ll want to plan your film schedule ahead of time, as the more popular films will sell out quickly. If your favorite film sells out before you get a ticket, there is a “rush-line” for no-shows. However, that line can get quite long and leave you empty-handed. Tickets can be purchased online.

Film Venues

There are approximately 240 films being featured across six different venues. The good news is that those venues are in close proximity to one another. The Ace Hotel serves as the festival hub. This is where the main box office, the merchandise store, pass pickup and guest check-in is located.  Other movie venues are the New Orleans Advocate building, the Theaters at Canal Place, the Broad Theater, the Prytania Theater and the Orpheum.

Panels

You can learn a lot about what’s new in the film industry by attending the informative panels. They cover topics ranging from tax incentives to distribution. The panelists are some of the best in the business and can provide some really good insight into the production industry. The panels are free and open to the public. They take place at Three Keys inside the Ace Hotel.  A description of panels can be found here.

'In Conversation' Events

This is your chance to witness special conversations with high-profile talent.  Emmy award-winning actress, Patricia Clarkson, “Precious” actress Gabourey Sidibe and the creators and writers of “Search Party” are all scheduled to participate in conversations. Tickets must be purchased to these events. It’s $20 for general public and $15 for NOFS members.

Receptions

The receptions are a good way to network and mingle with others in the industry.  Most of the receptions are open to all-access passholders only, but there are a few that are open to the public. You can find more information about the festival’s receptions here.

Parties

New Orleans is known for throwing a good party, and the parties at film festival are no different. According to MovieMaker Magazine the NOFF parties “set the bar for U.S. film festivals.”  There are nine parties in all – one for every night of the festival.  Last year’s opening night party had Woody Harrelson and Rob Reiner leading a massive crowd in a second-line down Canal Street. This year Big Freedia and Meschiya Lake will entertain crowds into the wee hours of the morning. All the parties are free for all-access pass holders. Some are free for weekend pass holders, but only a couple are open to the public.  Click here for a schedule of the parties.

Tickets and Passes

Tickets can be purchased individually or in packages. Individual ticket prices range from $7 to $35.  The packages are as follows: The “All-Access Pass” gives you free access to all screenings, parties, VIP lounge as well as a few other perks. The “Weekender Pass” gives you access to all weekend screenings and weekend parties.  The “Unlimited Film Package” allows you to see all films except opening and closing night. The “6-Film Package” grants you access to six regular screenings. Even with these packages you still have to reserve your tickets online or at the box office. For more information on tickets and packages visit the festival’s website.

While the events mentioned above are fun for the everyday movie buff, the festival also provides a multitude of opportunities for the filmmaker. There are mentorship programs, immersive workshops, grants awarded and opportunities for filmmakers to pitch their projects to a panel of judges with lucrative prizes being awarded. This all falls in line with the New Orleans Film Society's mission to discover, cultivate and amplify the voices of filmmakers who tell the stories of our time.