AN UPDATE REGARDING THE 2020 NEW ORLEANS FILM FESTIVAL
The 31st annual New Orleans Film Festival was originally scheduled to take place October 14-21, but we have made the decision to push it back by a few weeks to November 6-22 to allow us more time to prepare. It’s been difficult to plot out a version of such a dynamic event that can connect filmmakers, industry, and audiences in meaningful ways while also keeping at the fore our collective safety and well-being. We hope that the extra few weeks will allow us more time to adequately prepare for this year’s event.
We are also extending the duration of the festival—from 8 days to 18 days—to account for what we’re sure will be additional measures required for social distancing and the general well-being of participants.
We are in close touch with other fall festivals, as well as local and regional officials, about what may or may not be possible, and right now we are preparing for a variety of scenarios. We have been really heartened and inspired by the creativity shown by peer festivals during these times. We‘ve attended many online festivals already, used every screening platform imaginable, taken part in filmmaker talks on Facebook Live, attended and presented panels on Zoom (so many panels on Zoom…), and all along the way have continually been impressed with the ingenuity these festivals and events have shown as a response.
We are looking into backup plans of online screenings and events as well, in addition to the potential of drive-in screenings, something that we hope to pilot in the coming months. We remain dedicated to bringing audiences the quality curation and experiences that New Orleans has become known for, and offering participating filmmakers opportunities that are meaningful to their professional development and career pathways.
Regardless of the shape our own festival may take in 2020, it will most definitely move forward, as will the conference-style elements that we produce in order to support the careers of our exhibiting filmmakers—if we must go online, filmmakers can expect the same number of industry panels and curated one-on-one meetings with door-openers, filmmaker roundtables, and deep attention community engagement and community partnerships.
We have also sought out a variety of ways to be supportive of filmmakers during this time, including putting $36,000 of unrestricted funds into the hands of current filmmakers and alumni from our lab programs last month, launching a streaming platform with all proceeds going directly to filmmakers, deepening our discounts for filmmakers requesting submission fee reductions, and participating in and offering various webinars about unemployment benefits and the CARES act.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to reach out at any time to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can!
Submission Dates & Deadlines:
Early-bird Deadline: January 10, 2020
Regular Deadline: March 13, 2020
Late Deadline: May 15, 2020
Extended Late Deadline: June 30, 2020
Notification Date: August 25, 2020
The 31st New Orleans Film Festival: November 6-22, 2020
Since arriving in New Orleans in 2011, Jean Bingham has channeled her passion for cinema into film curation at various underground venues throughout the city, with a strong emphasis on cutting-edge, foreign, and art house films. A proud Libra, she studied film at Emerson College and has worked as a programmer for the New Orleans Film Society since 2015. She has one cat and two dogs, and upon further contemplation, has finally come to terms with the fact that her pets will never form an interspecies alliance.
Clint Bowie is the Artistic Director of the New Orleans Film Society, where he manages the curation of the organization’s year-round programming. He also works closely with the organization’s artist development programs, including the Southern Producers Lab, Emerging Voices Mentorship Program, and the newly launched Southern Filmmaker Travel Fund. He has served on review committees for ITVS, Creative Capital, NEA, FilmNorth, and Latino Public Broadcasting, and has sat on juries and panels at festivals including Atlanta, Cleveland, Denver, Palm Springs ShortsFest, Florida, CAAMFest, RiverRun, Champs-Elysées, and others. He was on the board of directors for the Film Festival Alliance for four years and is currently an Advisory Board member for the Overlook Film Festival. He previously worked as a print journalist at publications across the country and is a graduate of the University of Chicago.
Happily based in New Orleans, Zandashé Brown is a writer/director born-and-bred in and inspired by southern Louisiana. Her work raises a Black femme lens to the tradition of southern gothic horror. Brown’s directorial debut, BLOOD RUNS DOWN, was one of five projects selected for the New Orleans Tricentennial Incubator Grant in 2018. Since then, it has screened at dozens of festivals in the US, Germany, and Britain. Her narrative and documentary work has been supported by Kickstarter, Create Louisiana, the New Orleans Video Access Center, and the New Orleans Film Society, where she now serves as Artist Development Coordinator and Programming Manager.
Lead Features Programmer
Greta Hagen-Richardson is the Lead Features Programmer at the New Orleans Film Festival, working toward equity in representation and elevating the contributions of exciting, fresh voices. She is a 2020 Film Independent Project Involve Fellow in the Creative Executive track. Hagen-Richardson has contributed to many festival organizations, including the Chicago International Film Festival, True/False Film Fest, and the Telluride Film Festival. She responds strongly to American cinema that comments on changing dynamics in gender, race, and class, particularly in horror, as well as films that consider how people from various socioeconomic strata interact with one another in high-pressure situations.
Jonathan Kieran is Programming Manager at the New Orleans Film Society, presenting organization of the annual New Orleans Film Festival, where he’s worked in multiple capacities since 2011. As a member of the Programming team, Jon assists in the curation of the festival’s film programming, with a specific focus on the Narrative Short, Narrative Feature, and Experimental Shorts categories. He has contributed writing on film to New Orleans-based magazine ANTIGRAVITY and the indie film blog NoBudge, and holds an MFA in Film Production from the University of New Orleans and a BA in Philosophy from Ursinus College.
Amber Love is a Chicago based festival programmer and filmmaker interested in themes of identity and regionalism. Her work has premiered at the Camden International Film Festival, received support from the Tribeca Film Institute, and been broadcast on PBS. Amber is also a 2019 NeXt Doc Fellow and is currently working on her first feature documentary project. She has been with NOFF since 2016.
Kate Mason is a Programmer for the New Orleans Film Festival. She started at NOFF in 2012 and has been a part of the Operations and Programming teams ever since. Currently, she programs Narrative Shorts, Documentary Features, and Episodic projects. She is also the festival producer for the Overlook Film Festival. In 2019 she relocated to Los Angeles where she works for festivals such as Turner Classic, AFI, and Sundance. When she’s not in festival mode, she’s performing stand-up comedy, writing, or lip syncing in drag as Squirt Reynolds. Her favorite movie is Mommie Dearest.
Kiyoko McCrae is the Filmmaker Support Programs Manager at the New Orleans Film Society where she manages the Emerging Voices Mentorship Program and the Southern Producers Lab. Kiyoko manages professional development initiatives and fosters relationships with industry advisors during the New Orleans Film Festival and throughout the year. She is also an award-winning independent film and theater director and producer. Her films include Artist in Exile, Come Home, and Black Back. Kiyoko has received support from the Center for Asian American Media and Southern Documentary Fund for her documentary, Within, Within, which is currently in development. She is a 2017-2018 Intercultural Leadership Institute Fellow and a 2020 John O’Neal Cultural Arts Fellow. She received her BFA in Theatre Arts from NYU’s Tisch School. She is happy to call New Orleans home with her husband Jason and their two children, Manami and Koji. Her work can be found at kiyokomccrae.com
Angela Tucker is a writer, director and Emmy nominated producer who works in narrative and documentary genres. Her directorial work includes “All Skinfolk, Ain’t Kinfolk”, a documentary short airing on PBS’ Reel South about a mayoral election in New Orleans; “All Styles”, a narrative feature currently available on Amazon; “Black Folk Don’t”, a documentary web series that was featured in Time Magazine’s “10 Ideas That Are Changing Your Life”; and “(A)sexual”, a feature length documentary about people who experience no sexual attraction that streamed on Netflix and Hulu. She is in her ninth year on the PBS strand, “AfroPoP, now as a Co-Executive Producer and is currently producing “Belly of the Beast” (dir. Erika Cohn) which will broadcast on PBS’ Independent Lens in 2021. Her production company, TuckerGurl, is passionate about stories that highlight underrepresented communities in unconventional ways. A professor at Tulane University, Tucker was a Sundance Institute Women Filmmakers Initiative Fellow. She received her MFA in Film from Columbia University.
Cinema Reset Curator
Rachel Lin Weaver is an interdisciplinary media artist working in video, experimental documentary, sound, installation, and performance. Her projects explore personal and cultural memory, resilience in the face of adversity, landscapes and people in flux, and ecological systems. She is influenced by her upbringing in wilderness areas and rural communities in poverty, and finds many useful metaphors in the natural world. Weaver’s projects have been shown in many cities in the US as well as at exhibitions in nearly 30 countries since 2010. Her work is held in numerous private and public collections. In addition to her art practice, Weaver is an active documentary filmmaker. Her research is centered on creative decolonization and fighting for inclusivity, and she actively collaborates with indigenous communities. Weaver is currently Assistant Professor/Chair of Creative Technologies at the School of Visual Art at Virginia Tech and is also the curator of Cinema Reset, the new media program of the New Orleans Film Festival.
When can I send in an entry to be considered for the New Orleans Film Festival?
NOFF is accepting submissions through June 19, 2020. We cannot accept any submissions after that date.
How do I submit?
You can submit in one of two ways: through FilmFreeway. We do not accept submissions that are directly emailed to us.
If I submit, what are my film’s chances of being selected?
In 2019, we received just over 5600 submissions and selected 218 of those to screen at the festival.
What percent of the NOFF lineup comes from submissions?
We strive to program as much of the lineup as possible from submitted films. All-in-all, 238 films screened at NOFF 2019. Of those, 218 came from submissions. So, just about 92% of the 2019 festival came from submissions.
Will someone actually view my submission?
Absolutely. We take the screening process extremely seriously. Members of our programming team watch every single film from start to finish, and every film is considered and discussed by the staff before a final decision is made.
Who will watch my submission?
Each film is viewed by multiple individuals on our 96-member selection committee, comprising film industry professionals, filmmakers, avid moviegoers, film students, longtime festival submissions screeners, and New Orleans Film Society staff members.
Do you offer any waivers or discounts on entry fees?
We only offer a small number of fee waivers each year, to special cases (e.g. alumni filmmakers). However, we make a practice of offering discounted submission fees whenever we can. These are granted on a case-by-case basis. All inquiries regarding discounts should be addressed to email@example.com. Additionally, NOFF incentivizes filmmakers to submit early (so that we can start the review process early). The earlier you submit, the more inexpensive the submission price.
What kinds of films are you looking for?
All types of films are welcome—features, shorts, fiction, documentary, experimental, animated, episodic, virtual reality, and music videos. We seek to program a diverse slate that represents a variety of themes and content. We are particularly interested in new work from filmmakers from different backgrounds. As for genre, NOFF has no preferences and programs from all genres of film. We habitually screen horror films, comedies, period dramas, thrillers, etc. No matter what genre you’re working in, your film will be given equal weight along with the thousands of others that we watch every year.
Do you have a special category for films made by youth?
No, NOFF does not have a designated youth-produced category, but youth are encouraged to submit their work and we regularly program student work.
What are the guidelines for episodic submissions?
Submissions of episodic material must include the pilot or first episode and may include as many episodes as you would like to share. NOFF programs both longer, television-length pieces as well as shorter webisodes and other formats. If selected, our programming team will determine how many episodes to screen at the festival.
Would it help if I sent a press kit for my film?
No. In fact, most press kits submitted with films will be skipped over in favor of simply watching the film itself. However, we do suggest sending a cover letter explaining why you’re interested in sharing your film with NOFF (do you have some connection to New Orleans? are you especially interested in reaching a New Orleans audience? have you heard good things about NOFF from fellow filmmakers? were you drawn in by our description on a website?). We also like to know more about who is behind the film (what’s your background? why are you telling this story?). That information can be helpful as we make our final decisions.
Can I email you a Vimeo link as part of my submission?
Because our submission review process involves almost 70 staff and volunteers, we need the screener of your film to be accessible directly through either Withoutabox or FilmFreeway, where it can be assigned and tracked throughout the season. You may additionally email us a direct link to your film on Vimeo or a similar platform, however this likely won’t be used by NOFF for selection review purposes.
My film was completed last year. Is it still eligible?
In order for the film to be in competition, it must have been completed on or after June 1st, 2018. If your film doesn’t meet this requirement and you would like to petition for an exception, email us with more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I submitted my film last year, but it wasn’t accepted. Could I re-submit this year?
We discourage filmmakers from re-submitting their films unless substantial changes have been made to it. Do you feel that your film is effectively a different film than the version you submitted last year? If not, we suggest that you don’t re-submit it.
Does NOFF consider works-in-progress?
Yes, we often consider films for selection that aren’t 100% complete, especially cases where films are picture-locked but awaiting final color and/or sound. If you’re confident that your film will shine even with incomplete or missing elements, then submit away!
Can I send an updated edit of my submitted film?
If you make substantial changes to your film after it is submitted, you may send us an updated version. However, depending on how far along the film is in our selection process, we cannot guarantee that the newer version will be screened. If you submit a film and then send us a new version months afterward, chances are that the original version will have already been seen by a member of our team, and we don’t have the resources to re-screen a film that’s already been watched and considered. That said, we often re-visit films in the final stages of the selection process, so it is possible we will want to see the newer cut. In short, there are no guarantees, but you’re welcome to send it just in case.
If I submit later in the year, are my film’s chances of getting selected lower?
Our programmers keep all selection slots open until after every film has been screened. So, while we screen and review and discuss submissions continuously, all season long, we don’t make any final decisions about what will screen until after everyone has seen everything and we’re about to announce our lineup for the year. So, no, you won’t hurt your chances by waiting until later in the year to submit.
Is it possible to get feedback on my film once it has been screened?
Our policy is not to offer written evaluations of films submitted to NOFF. The purpose of our review process is to allow our programmers to discover new voices and exciting films with a strong point of view, so it would be against our best interests (and yours) to offer one-size-fits-all advice with the goal of making your film “better.” This is a subjective process, and the decisions of our programming team reflect their own opinions, thoughts, and values. Just because we decide to pass on a film does not mean that we think it is a “bad” or “weak” film.
Does my film have to be a world premiere?
No, NOFF does not require world premiere status. However, we do ask that films be New Orleans premieres (in that they can’t have already screened in the greater New Orleans area). Also, in order for a feature film to be considered in competition for a jury prize, it must also be a Louisiana premiere. We typically reserve competition slots in the feature categories for films that have not yet received major festival attention and are having a regional, U.S., or world premiere at NOFF, but we also have non-competition slots for features that do not meet these requirements.
Is my film still eligible if it’s available online?
Short answer: Yes. We regularly program submissions that have already gone live on Vimeo or YouTube.
When will I find out if my film has been selected to screen in the festival?
Our target notification date is August 1, 2020. You can expect to receive an email from us by that date about your film’s status.
If accepted, will NOFF offer a screening fee for my film?
No, we do not offer any screening fees for films that screen during the New Orleans Film Festival. Instead, we put our resources into producing the best possible festival to showcase your work.
If my film is accepted, what do I get in terms of hospitality from the festival?
NOFF is happy to offer accommodation to filmmakers from all accepted films—both shorts and features. Provided that you live outside the greater New Orleans area, your project will be entitled to two complimentary hotel nights at a partner hotel, as well as discounted hotel rates for any additional days you’d like to stay. Additionally, all accepted films receive two complimentary All-Access Passes to make the most of the festival, with additional passes for your team members available for purchase at a deep discount.
Are there any awards offered by the festival to filmmakers?
Every year, the festival offers jury awards to films in seven different categories. The total value of prizes awarded in 2019 was over $100,000 in camera packages, film stock, production services, and software. (Fun fact: One of NOFF’s earliest winners was a documentary by first-time director Todd Phillips, who has gone on to direct The Hangover and Joker.)
Who decides which films win the jury awards?
Three jurors are chosen for each film category and they come to a decision regarding which film will win the jury prize. Jurors for these awards represent some of the most talented leaders in the industry, including the likes of Oscar winners Melissa Leo and Tia Lessin; producer Effie Brown (Dear White People); industry writers like Aisha Harris, Nigel Smith, and Manuel Betancourt; Independent Lens producer Lois Vossen; Charlotte Cook of Field of Vision; producers Michael Gottwald and Josh Penn (Oscar-nominated Beasts of the Southern Wild); and godfather of Third Cinema Kidlat Tahimik.
Have a question that’s not covered here?
Email us at email@example.com, and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.