By William McCray Sutherlin
The second annual Louisiana International Film Festival, otherwise known as LIFF, will return to Baton Rouge on May 8-11.
The event will be held at the Cinemark on Perkins Rowe. Individual tickets can be purchased on site or online. All-access passes are available online and will allow entry into all of the festival’s films, gala premieres, workshops, classes, tributes, film receptions and parties. A full schedule to the festival is available at lifilmfest.org.
This year the festival will be host to more than 50 films, including plenty that were shot in Louisiana.
Regional films will include New Orleans filmmaker Lily Keber’s “Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker,” a collection of film footage and photographs of the New Orleans pianist with commentary from peers and colleagues such as Harry Connick Jr. and Dr. John.
In addition, LIFF will present its first Anne Price Lifetime Achievement Award to local actor Jerry Leggio at 11:00 a.m. Leggio has appeared in 56 films and television programs over the years.
This award was named after The Advocate’s long time arts writer, Anne Price. Price worked at the newspaper for over 70 years and spent most of her time covering cultural events around town.
Here are a few of our favorites to play this weekend.
Thursday May 8
- Belle (7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.): From the studio that brought us award winning 12 Years a Slave: this opening presentation is the story of a beautiful illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral that is raised by her aristocratic great uncle, under great pressure from English society, based on a true story.
- Afterwards there will be a Gala Party from 9 p.m. to midnight.
Friday May 9
- Friday will be filled with activities at each theatre. From seminars on writing and documentary film making at 10:30 a.m. to a casting director/agent panel from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
- At 3:00 p.m. the festival will shine a light on music videos, something that has become more prevalent in today’s video world and a stepping stone for a few motion picture directors.
- GOD’s Pocket (9:30 p.m. – 11:15 p.m.) (DIG’s Pick)
- John Slattery of Mad Men makes his debut as a feature director with this gritty, hard-hitting drama based on the celebrated novel by Pete Dexter (Paris, Texas). Set in the neighborhood of God’s Pocket, Mickey Scarpato’s (played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman) crazy stepson, Leon, is killed in a construction “accident,” and Mickey quickly tries to bury the bad news with the body. However, when a local columnist comes around sniffing for the truth, things go from bad to worse.
- Not only is this film highly anticipated because of its star-studded cast and gripping trailer, but because it was one of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s last films before his untimely death. Hoffman was truly one of the greatest actors of our generation, be sure to see this powerhouse film on May 9.
Saturday May 10
- The Devil’s Violinist (7:00 p.m. – 9:15 p.m.)
Synopsis: “Director Bernard Rose’s passionate and powerful new film on the life of violin virtuoso and notorious womanizer Niccolo Paganini (David Garrett).”
The film covers the rise of the success of Paganini and his association with his manager and the exploitation of his career.Director Bernard Rose will be attending the screening of his film.
- Calvary (8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.)
Writer-Director John Michael McDonagh and actor Brendan Gleeson are back with a follow up to their 2011 release, The Guard, a film that was well received.
Gleeson plays a tough-minded Irish priest marked for death by one of his parishioners.
“A powerful film about the persistence of faith and the Catholic Church’s soul-shattering legacy of abuse, this literate, beautifully crafted picture is a stunner from start to finish.”
Sunday May 11
- Sunday will kick off around 9:00 a.m. with a seminar for filmmakers interested in post-production, and lead into the Short Film Program at 10:30 a.m.
- We Won’t Bow Down (6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.): “We Won’t Bow Down explores a secret society of African Americans in inner city New Orleans as they devote their time and skills to create hand beaded Indian costumes that embody a cultural, spiritual, and ancient power that has kept Africa alive in the new world despite slavery and its legacy.”
- Elsa & Fred (7:00 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.) Director Michael Radford’s new romantic comedy starring two Academy Award winners, Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer,
- Synopsis: “Elsa (Shirley MacLaine), a vivacious retiree in New Orleans gets straight laced widower, Fred (Christopher Plummer), as an unwanted next-door neighbor – until he ultimately surrenders to her bold and beautiful madness – and the two soon discover it’s never too late to fulfill a lifetime fantasy, in this rousing re-make of hit Spanish-Argentine film by Michael Radford.