Recognizing a need for greater transparency in a values-led programming process and seeking a tool to aid staff in making programmatic decisions for the organization, the curatorial staff of the New Orleans Film Society convened over multiple sessions in 2020 to collectively draft this living document of programming practices, with a specific investment in countering extractive storytelling, championing stories from those living outside of major production hubs, and supporting the creative leadership of storytellers closest to the stories being told. Designed to reflect the practices currently employed, this document is inherently subject to evolve and develop to reflect the ongoing thinking and approach that our team has in relation to our curatorial work.
We seek work from impassioned storytellers who create from spaces of urgency, importance, and a desire to share their unique perspectives.
- While we acknowledge and respect that nuanced storytelling can come from many different sources and perspectives, we strive to decenter privilege and whiteness and prioritize artists who have been historically denied access to resources and opportunities within the industry–including Southern artists, women, people of color, LGBTQIA people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized communities.
- We look for evidence that filmmakers have built their production teams with inclusivity in mind, ensuring a plurality of perspectives and exhibiting a commitment to a more diverse creative landscape.
- We look beyond stories of struggle and trauma, particularly those featuring Black and brown communities, and instead offer space for narratives of cultural strength, spiritual depth, and shared humanity.
We counter extractive storytelling by championing regionalism and supporting the creative leadership of those closest to the stories being told.
- We shift our attention away from the mainstream and toward stories from those working in spaces outside of and often ignored by centers of power.
- We recognize that South Louisiana and the American South more broadly are sites where stories and inspiration have been thoughtlessly mined by “outsiders,” a harmful practice that sidelines artists with a stronger connection to the region and frequently results in stereotyping and a lack of authentic representation in the work.
- We believe that important insight and nuance result when filmmakers tell the stories that they’re closest to: films inspired or informed by their own lived experiences, or about communities of which they are a part.
- We respect the role of the moving image as a cultural record of our communities, and we seek to ensure that these histories of our region are addressed with care for those whose stories are being told.
- We hold artists accountable to respecting the subject matter of their work, including the individuals, cultures, and communities they are addressing.
We acknowledge the injustices and deleterious effects of traditional curatorial work of arts institutions like our own and seek new ways of envisioning our programmatic practices.
- We recognize that qualitative notions of “artistic merit” and “aesthetic quality” are informed by a racist lineage and hierarchical systems designed to maintain a white, ableist, and hetero-normative perspective on art and the world.
- We seek to expand our understanding of how excellence can reveal itself through artistic approaches and techniques such as language, visual stylings, and culturally-specific storytelling practices that have been historically underappreciated.
- We involve a multiplicity of voices in our programming process in an effort to eschew unilateral decision-making.
- We acknowledge that value is not dictated by prestige or laurels, and thus keep our focus on the potential of the work and the artist and away from institutional affiliations or perceived stature within other filmmaking spaces.
- We understand that programming and curatorial work is a form of gatekeeping–of inviting some artists in while shutting others out; we seek to combat the exclusive nature of this process by building more accessible bridges of opportunity for artists, connecting them to spaces, experiences, and resources that they’ve not been afforded.
- For artistic opportunities including labs and development programs (including Emerging Voices, Southern Producers Lab, South Pitch), we waive all submission fees to ensure access.
- We offer film festival submission discounts to those with a stated need, and partner with organizations and individuals to ensure an equitable disbursement of waivers.
We create space for confrontational art and nontraditional artistic approaches.
- We invite audiences to engage with work that addresses the social and political inequities of our collective past and present.
- We welcome nonconformist and misfit films that often get excluded from other exhibition avenues for not adhering to elitist industry standards.
- We celebrate innovative work that, in its form and construction, offers a rebuke to conventional means of storytelling and forges new storytelling pathways.
- We lift up exciting projects that empower, transform, and, like all great art, encourage reflection and creative response.
- Early bird Deadline: January 20, 2023
- Regular Deadline: March 17, 2023
- Late Deadline: May 12, 2023
- Extended Deadline: June 9, 2023
- Notification Date: August 11, 2023
- Event Date:
In-Person – November 2 – 7, 2023
Virtual Cinema – November 2 – 12, 2023
NOFF Programming Team
Clint Bowie (he/him/his) is the Artistic Director of the New Orleans Film Society, where he manages the curation of the organization’s year-round programming. He has served on review committees for ITVS, Creative Capital, NEA, FilmNorth, and Latino Public Broadcasting, and has spoken on panels organized by Sundance Institute, Firelight Media, Center for Asian American Media, Palm Springs International ShortFest, ArtHouse Convergence, and others. He has served on the board of directors for the Film Festival Alliance and Advisory Board for the Overlook Film Festival. He previously worked as a print journalist at publications across the country.
FILM + CONFERENCE PROGRAMMEREmail
Zuri Obi is a Haitian-American artist raised with deep cultural roots in magical realism. As a multidisciplinary filmmaker, her work strives to situate the viewer within surreal spaces that challenge conventional ‘truth’ and ‘reality’. As a Camerawomxn, she has collaborated with artists such as Solange and Lizzo, and as Creative Producer, her projects have screened at notable film festivals, including Sundance and won top awards at New Orleans Film Festival, AFI and BlackStar. Currently, she is developing her forthcoming documentary “How to Breathe Underwater”, which is a personal mother-daughter healing journey as explored through dreamwork.
Rashada is a Programmer with the New Orleans Film Festival. She also works as a Production Coordinator in the New Orleans Film Industry. She holds an MFA in Film Production from the University of New Orleans. In her spare time, she enjoys working on short films with her friends to continue being creative.
Zain Hashmat is a filmmaker and writer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is programming within the Narrative Shorts and Narrative Features categories during the 2023 programming season. As a PA and Assistant, he has worked on various productions across the city of New Orleans, practicing the art and craft of filmmaking and collaboration within projects of all sizes. Outside of film, he enjoys spending time with his cat, attempting to keep his plants alive, and drinking too much coffee than is necessary.
Amber Love is a filmmaker, documentary editor, and festival programmer based in Chicago, IL. Her work has premiered at the Camden International Film Festival, has played Indie Memphis and the Milwaukee Film Festival, and has been supported by the Tribeca Film Institute and Union Docs. In 2019 she was selected as a NeXt Doc Fellow for her work as an emerging filmmaker, and in 2020 she was selected as a Fellow for the Sundance Institute’s inaugural Art of Editing Fellowship. She has been with NOFF since 2016.
Bo McGuire was born the queer son of a Waffle House cook and his second shift waitress. He dazzles with film and hammers on poems. He belongs to the First Church of Dolly Parton.
Kate Mason is a writer, performer, and filmmaker based in Los Angeles. Her artistic career blossomed in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she studied improv, sketch, acting, and drag performance. She is a programmer for the New Orleans Film Festival and producer of the Overlook Film Festival and freelances in production, operations, and programming for many other film festivals. She participated in the 2020 UnionDocs Research and Development Lab with her hybrid documentary film about jugglers. Her favorite movie is Mommie Dearest.
Farrington (He/Him) is a rising star in the world of film criticism, with roots in the stunning United States Virgin Islands and a home base in glamorous Atlanta, Georgia. As the founder of Film| Festival| Farrington, he is a sought-after programming and operations specialist, with a passion for advocating for inclusion, social justice, and underrepresented communities in media and the creative arts. With a tricoastal reach, Farrington’s programming has been featured at renowned festivals such as Frameline, Oxford, Atlanta Film Festival, and more. He is a proud member of The Programmers of Colour and Queer Programmers United circle. He can be found cuddling with his kitten Ruffles whenever he has a free moment.
Tishon Pugh is a Georgia-born, South Carolina–raised screenwriter, filmmaker, and film programmer. She prefers to explore the themes of comically awkward youth, Southern heritage, queerness, and the unusual in her works. To complement her love of film, Tishon is acquiring a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina with a specification in Cultural and Visual Anthropology. Hoping to combine the two, Tishon’s ultimate goal in life is not only to create great stories but help preserve them for the upcoming generations to experience. Tishon has taken up many opportunities to get involved with the film industry over the last few years and has been a cohort in two inaugural programming fellowships with the Athena Film Festival and the Outfest Fusion Film Festival. Outside of any creative endeavors, Tishon enjoys bar trivia, thrifting and occasional rewatches of her favorite tv show, New Girl. As an artist, Tishon’s mission is to make film more accessible to rural areas in the South, expose low-income children to the world of cinema, and play an active role in archiving the Black Southern experience.
Ryan Craver is a filmmaker originally from Mooresville, North Carolina. His feature projects and short films have been supported by SFFILM, the Tribeca Film Institute, the Sloan Foundation, and the Davey Foundation. His first short, Truck Slut, premiered at the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival, and he has returned almost every year since. Ryan is currently developing Truck Slut as a TV series with S/B Films and sending two new shorts out in the world: Sound to Sea (2022), which recently won the audience award for narrative short at NOFF, and Fat Lip.
Kenneth Renaldo Reynolds
Kenneth is a film producer based in New Orleans. His work focuses primarily on southern independent projects and working with southern-based filmmakers.
Stephanie Tell is a Programmer in the Narrative Shorts category of the New Orleans Film Festival, where she has worked in various capacities since 2018. Currently she is writing a PhD through the Screen Studies program at the University of Melbourne, Australia, focusing on cultures of masquerade on film. Her research interests broadly span liminal studies, affective histories, and ritual aspects of the screen experience. Previously, she was a senior curator for the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, and a freelance arts writer and critic. In another life, Stephanie lived on a warm, dry rock as a contented land iguana.
Amada is a Central American producer, cinematographer, and artist based between El Salvador and Southern California. As a storyteller that has grieved cultural loss and displacement due to armed conflict, Amada is passionate about exploring the body-earth territory and nurturing communities through collective storytelling. Their work has been featured at Blackstar Film Festival, Femme Frontera, Skirball Cultural Center, amongst others; Amada is a 2021 JustFilms Ford Foundation/Rockwood Institute Fellow, a Brown Girls Doc Mafia member, and Vona Voices Alumni.
Rachel Lin Weaver
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.
- Who watched my film?
You can meet the staff-level members of our programming team here.
- I submitted a cut without final color and sound. Is that why film wasn’t selected?
A high percentage of all submissions are shared without final color or sound, and it’s something that our programming team is accustomed to. This is not really a consideration for our team as we make selections, and is not a reason for why your film may not have been selected.
- My film is so timely and speaks to the moment we’re in right now. Was this considered?
We are aware that films are often a response to and can speak to world events, with potential to catalyze change and spark shift thinking. That said, we take into consideration multiple aspects of a film when making selections and timeliness alone is not the only consideration.
- When can I send in an entry to be considered for the New Orleans Film Festival?
NOFF is accepting submissions through June 17, 2022. We cannot accept any submissions after that date.
- How do I submit my film?
FilmFreeway is the exclusive method for submitting films for festival consideration. We do not accept submissions via emailed links.
- If I submit, what are my film’s chances of being selected?
In 2022, we received 3600+ submissions and selected 138 of those films to screen at NOFF. In 2021, we received 3018 submissions and selected 164 of those films to screen at NOFF.
In 2020, we received 4655 submissions and selected 160 of those to screen at NOFF.
In 2019, we received 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. In 2022, 93% of the lineup came from submissions; 91% of the lineup in 2021; 95% of the lineup in 2020; and 92% of the lineup in 2019. Each year, the other percentage of the lineup represents end-of-year locally-related, new, and/or “prestige titles” that we curate with studios and distributors.
- Will someone actually view my submission?
Yes. We take the screening process extremely seriously. Every submission is viewed from start to finish at least once by a staff-level member of the NOFF programming team in addition to one to three times by a member of our volunteer screening corps, 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, filmmakers based in countries that cannot legally send money to the U.S.; financial duress). We also work with a number of partner organizations to ensure that underrepresented communities in filmmaking are able to submit free of charge. We are also very generous with offering discounted submission fees, and 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?
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. We encourage you to read our “Programming Practices”. The full document is available on our website and an abbreviated version is available above. As for genre, NOFF has no preferences and programs from all genres of film. We regularly screen horror films, comedies, dramas, period dramas, thrillers, etc. No matter what genre you’re working in, your film will be given equal weight and consideration.
- NOFF strives to decenter privilege and whiteness. Does that mean that films by white filmmakers will not be considered seriously?
By “decentering privilege and whiteness,” we don’t mean to imply that there is no room in the festival for white filmmakers or white perspectives. In 2021, 39% of films in the lineup had at least one director who identified as white. When we talk about decentering privilege and whiteness, we are acknowledging that historically, this lens has been favored and prioritized by institutions within our field. We seek to disrupt that pattern and ensure that the perspectives in our lineup are representative of the diverse world we live in.
- 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.
- My project is episodic –– do you have a category for that?
We encourage filmmakers of episodic work to submit the pilot episode in either the narrative short, documentary short, or animated short category, depending on where it best fits. In the past, NOFF has programmed both longer, television-length pieces as well as shorter webisodes and other formats. If selected, our programming team will work with the filmmaking teams to determine how many episodes to screen at the festival if more than the pilot is available.
- My project is a music video –– do you have a category for that?
While we don’t have a category-specific for music videos, if you feel that your project fits under another short film category, we encourage you to submit it.
- 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 including a cover letter on FilmFreeway 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? do you think that your film aligns with what we stated we seek out in our Programming Practices? 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 FilmFreeway, where it can be assigned and tracked throughout the season. It is not helpful to reach out directly through email to members of our programming with information about your film or with a link.
- 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, 2020. 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. 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, go ahead and submit. We do not, however, feel comfortable assessing films that are not picture-locked or are missing major scenes.
- 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 revisit 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. Submitting later in the submissions cycle will not hurt your chances.
- 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 our 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. We want your film to reach the audiences it deserves and do not wish to hold it back from that by requiring any kind of premiere status.
- What if my film has already been in virtual festivals?
Not a problem. We’re happy for your film to receive virtual screenings prior to NOFF.
- Is my film still eligible if it’s available online?
Yes. We regularly program submissions that have already gone live on Vimeo or YouTube.
- If selected, will my film be screened in person or online?
We believe in the power of communal viewings that festivals offer and seek that out when possible. In 2020, we launched a series of outdoor screenings for about half of our lineup, and all selections were also made available through an online platform. In 2020, only a limited number of films screened in-person. In 2021 and 2022, all selected films screened in-person. In 2023, we are planning to continue a hybrid model, with a combination of in-person screenings and virtual screenings.
- When will I find out if my film has been selected to screen at the festival?
Our target notification date is August 11, 2023. 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?
Yes! In 2020, NOFF launched an initiative to pay all accepted filmmakers a screening fee. Short filmmakers receive $100, and feature filmmakers receive $250. We intend on continuing to offer screening fees to exhibiting filmmakers in 2023.
- If accepted, will I be able to view other films at the festival?
Yes! 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 different categories. The total value of prizes awarded in 2020 was over $100,000 in camera packages, film stock, production services, cash 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.
- Tell me more about the festival’s Oscar-qualifying status?
NOFF’s Oscar-qualifying status allows the recipient of the festival’s Documentary Short Jury Award, Narrative Short Jury Award, and Animated Short Jury Award will be eligible for consideration in their respective categories of the Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run, provided the films otherwise comply with the Academy rules.
- 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.
New Orleans Film Society is committed to making films and other events accessible to ALL audiences, and we ask the filmmaking community to join us in making this happen.
Starting in 2022, NOFF will REQUIRE all films to offer closed captions for both virtual and in-person exhibitions. Audio Description will be strongly encouraged but not required, as the costs of these investments are much higher–but we will make it mandatory starting with the 2025 NOFF.
Captions are either OPEN or CLOSED. Open captions always are in view and cannot be turned off, whereas closed captions can be turned on and off by the viewer.
CLOSED CAPTIONS: provides a visual description of all audio in a film, including dialogue, narration, sound effects, and music descriptions. They are made for people who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
SUBTITLES: Standard subtitles assume the viewer hears the audio. Therefore they only translate the dialogue from one language to another. They don’t include the interpretation of sounds, that are not spoken words. They are made for people who don’t speak the language of the film.
Typical costs of services that provide captions range between $1-3/minute, so a 90-minute feature typically costs $90-$270.
AUDIO DESCRIPTION: enables blind and low vision viewers to hear what the characters are doing. For example, by describing important visual aspects of a film, audio description lets blind and low vision viewers know where scenes are taking place, what characters look like, what important actions are taking place, and more.
Typical costs of services that audio description range between $10-30/minute, so a 90-minute feature can cost between $900-$2700.
- NOFF2020 Webinar –– Adding Captions to Your Film, hosted by REV
- Guide to Closed Captions
- FREE Subtitles training
- How to Create Custom SRT Files for Video Subtitles
- 2020 SFILM webinar: FilmHouse Talk: The Art of Audio Description
- Guide to Audio Description
Other Educational Opportunities
Full Spectrum Features side program “Access Reframed”, which aims to educate, advocate and enact change towards greater access for creators and audiences in the film community nationwide.
Examples of some vendors offering services
- Point 360, Film audio description and captioning creation – Steve Salotto, firstname.lastname@example.org, Los Angeles, CA
- Bridge Multimedia, Film audio description, and captioning creation – Matt Kaplowitz, email@example.com, New York
- REV, captioning
- Total Caption, captioning – Lauren Schechter, firstname.lastname@example.org, New York
- Matchbox Cine, audio description and captioning (specializes in experimental film) – London
- Woman of Her Word, audio description artist/consultant – Michele Spitz, email@example.com
- Reid My Mind, audio description artist/consultant – Thomas Reid, ReidMyMindRadio@gmail.com