New Orleans is a cinematic city, steeped in visual clichés. We all know about the feature films, television shows and television commercials that get made here. HBO’s Treme’ has shone a spotlight on the local music industry, and given quite a few locals work. Right now, it seems everyone is either working in the film business in some capacity, or trying to avoid film crews! But it’s not just the out-of-towners who are coming here to take advantage of our scenery and the Louisiana tax credit program for filming. Talented young filmmakers who live right here are making acclaimed movies right here.
For example, Jeff, Who Lives at Home opened this past weekend nationally. Directed by a pair of New Orleans brothers, products of Jesuit High School, and filmed mostly in Metairie (to look like Baton Rouge!), the movie has received great reviews. It’s the latest in a series of several features by Jay and Mark Duplass, who wrote, directed and produced Cyrus and Baghead before Jeff, Who Lives at Home. The movie, about a 30-year old slacker who lives in his mom (Susan Sarandon)’s basement in Baton Rouge , is acclaimed as a mature piece of filmmaking.
Another very successful indie movie is Beasts of the Southern Wild, which just won the Grand Jury Award and Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Benh Zeitlin directed that film; he’s part of a collective group of independent filmmakers called Court 13 who began as students together and are based in the city. Although Zeitlin hails from Queens, New York and went to college at Wesleyan, he came to the city post-Katrina, like so many creative young people who have enriched the city’s cultural life. Beasts employ nonactors to tell a magical realist story filmed and set in a poverty-stricken town in Louisiana’s Bayou Country. Its heroine, a young girl called Hushpuppy, undertakes a mythical journey in search of her mother, battling prehistoric creatures unleashed by environmental changes. The New York Times called the film one of the best to be screened at Sundance in over two decades. Searchlight purchased U.S. rights to the drama during the festival for nearly $1 million, and it will be released on a limited platform on June 29, 2012.
And even though it’s not local we’re proud of the 2012 Academy Award for Shreveport’s Moonbot Studios for its first animated release, “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” William Joyce, author/illustrator, and co-director Brandon Oldenburg created the 14-minute movie about a character who survives a storm and lands in a world where books come alive to help people. It’s a Louisiana project, made by Louisiana residents. Here and the rest of the state, we’re not Hollywood outsiders anymore. We’re working from within, and making a real success of