Get ready to splurge on tubs of popcorn because the Louisiana International Film Festival has released its 2016 lineup of films. From April 13-17, movie lovers from Baton Rouge and the rest of south Louisiana can fill up the seats of the Cinemark Perkins Rowe to watch a diverse selection of films.
Executive Director Chesley Heymsfield launched LIFF in 2013 to connect the residents with the active film industry in the State and provide a forum for education, exposure and entertainment.
“It’s going really well,” Heymsfield said. “We’re going into our fourth year now, and we have a really great team together. Everyone’s really professional with what they do, and that includes locals and it also includes who come in from out of state to work on the festival so that we can make it happen. It’s been going pretty good.”
LIFF has not always been hosted at Cinemark Perkins Rowe. Previous hosts included Manship Theatre, the Union Theatre at LSU and the Joy Theatre in New Orleans. The Perkins Rowe location was selected due to its central location, and the environment it provided.
“Perkins Rowe really does offer a hospitable environment,” Heymsfield said. “They can come park their car, go to the Filmmaker Lounge, get something to eat, see a movie and so it becomes an all-day extravaganza. So it’s easy for us to all stay in one location.”
According to Heymsfield, each year the lineup of films are selected one of two ways. One involves programmers based in California, who actually make it their job to go in, and watch films from all around the world at other festivals, private screenings as well as meet and greets with filmmakers who are on the festival circuit.
“They kind of recruit films for us,” Heymsfield said. “And then you can also submit online through a portal called WithoutABox.com where filmmakers can use that one website to submit their film to many different festivals.”
Once the films are submitted and review, the committee then assembles the lineup, which culminates into over 50 films to be viewed by the public. This year’s selection includes a variety of world cinema, documentaries and films from the southern perspective. Some of the film selections include Presenting Princess Shaw, a story centering on a woman who cares for the elderly by day and turns into a singing sensation at night; Miss Sharon Jones based on the famous singer and No Greater Love, which examines war veterans and depression. As an homage to the planet earth, all environmental-based films will be shown on Sunday, April 17 coinciding with Earth Day.
“It’s a gambit of many different things,” Heymsfield said. “There’s just a huge array of all kinds of different films that we’ll be screening.”
Along with the screening selections, LIFF also offers opportunities to meet special guests in attendance, special events, live musical performances, workshops and more. One of the guests for 2016 will be global maternal health advocate and founder of Every Mother Counts, Christy Turlington Burns. Burns will be there to speak on her three-part film series, Giving Birth in America, which address the rising maternal mortality rate in the United States.
“I think Christy Turlington is an exceptional advocate for maternal health care, so I’m really excited to be able to meet her and welcome her to Louisiana,” Heymsfield said.
Every day during the festival, the Filmmakers Lounge, located across from Bin 77, will be open and host nightly gala receptions from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Each reception will offer appetizers, cocktails and music provided by DJs. The Filmmakers Lounge will also be host to the Gala After Party from 9 to 11 p.m. which will feature live music and food prepared by the selected festival chef.
“There will be a lot of live music and entertainment that goes along with the films this year,” Heymsfield said.
Another big component of the festival is the mentorship program, which offers interested parties the opportunity to learn about a major aspect of the filmmaking process. This year’s program includes classes and studio tours that will be held on Friday, April 15, which will be known as Mentorship Day.
“Anyone who has a valid student ID can show it to the Cinemark box office, and gain entry into any of the workshops we have that day and also any screenings that will be taking place on that Friday will be free with their student ID,” said Heymsfield.
For Heymsfield, the festival offers Baton Rouge introspection to one’s own community, as well as looking outward as established with the selection of films.
“It’s very hard for people to differentiate between events in Baton Rouge because people have things they’ve been going to forever, but the reason we really founded the Louisiana International Film Festival was that there was a void,” Heymsfield said. “And it was void in entertainment exposure and education, and I think this really hits the nail on the head for all those things. It’s just one way to make the film industry accessible to those who are curious about it, even people who are involved in it.”
Passes are on sale now to LIFF 2016 through the official festival website www.lifilmfest.org. Individual movie tickets are available for purchase from the Cinemark Perkins Rowe box office for $10 per ticket.