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January 7, 2020
Film Festival New Orleans 2019

2019 New Orleans Film Festival Short Film Preview



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With parties every night, scores of local filmmaker premieres and screening venues city wide, it’s no wonder New Orleans Film Festival has been called one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals In The World” by MovieMaker Magazine this year.

With over 200 total screenings across a full week of filmgoing, this is one big fest. However, unlike so many festivals of its size, New Orleans Film Festival (or NOFF) continues to prioritize new discoveries and user submissions. Over the past several years, NOFF has been at the forefront of short form cinema, growing their VR and 360° sections, along with their narrative, animated, experimental and late night shorts. Last year’s festival was terrific (you can go back and read about our favorites from last year right now).

But 2019 is no ordinary year for the fest. On top of all the great traditional short film categories they offer, NOFF has lined up several great panels, free screenings and a Microcinema block that is practically a film festival lineup in itself.

Here’s what we’re looking forward to most, by category (and stay tuned from October 16–23, as we cover the New Orleans Film Festival live, offering reviews of our favorites).

Narrative Shorts

Rehearsal — Dir. Courtney Hope Thérond

What’s It About? A film crew for an upcoming feature film pushes the boundaries of consent during a courtesy rehearsal for its female lead.

Where Else Has It Screened? BFI London, Encounters, Nashville, Aesthetica

What Other Films Has This Director Made? Courtney is the incredibly prolific director behind 13 shorts! Two of her most recent shorts (“The Dress You Have On” and “Make It Up”) are both searing dramadies that explore the often tumultuous aspect of relationships. Never one to shy away from the uncomfortable, “Rehearsal” looks to be this NYU Tisch graduate’s most challenging work yet.

Suicide By Sunlight — Dir. Nikyatu Jusu

What’s It About? Valentina, a day-walking black vampire protected from the sun by her melanin, is forced to restrain her bloodlust to regain custody of her estranged daughters.

Where Else Has It Screened? Sundance

What Other Films Has This Director Made? Before her latest genre piece, Nikyatu made “Flowers”, an HBO short film winner. However, she’s been making shorts since the early 2000s, with “Say Grace Before Drowning” and “African Booty Scratcher”. The latter in particular highlights Nikyatu’s ability to blend her dual heritage (Sierra Leone, America) into potent cinema.

What Do You Know About The Water And The Moon — Dir. Jian Luo

What’s It About? A young Chinese woman gives birth to a jellyfish during an attempted abortion.

Where Else Has It Screened? Clermont-Ferrand, London

What Other Films Has This Director Made? We’ve previewed this film on more than one occasion, and for good reason. Jian made several internationally recognized shorts during her time at NYU, including “Nobody Says I Love You”, “Cheongsam” and “Ghost Tour”. With “What Do You Know About The Water And The Moon”, Luo continues to hone her craft and intrigue festival crowds.

Animated Shorts

I’m Going Out For Cigarettes— Dir. Osman Cerfon

What’s It About? Jonathan, twelve years old, lives with his sister, his mother and also some men. They all have the same face and nest in closets, drawers, TV set…

Where Else Has It Screened? Clermont-Ferrand, Locarno, SXSW

What Other Films Has This Director Made? This is Osman’s third animated short. This writer-director-animator debuted with “Chroniques de la poisse”, a film that netted him a major win at Annecy.

Guaxuma — Dir. Nara Normande

What’s It About? Tayra and I grew up on a beach in the north east of Brazil. We were inseparable. The sea breeze brings me back happy memories.

Where Else Has It Screened? Aspen Shortsfest, Palm Springs, TIFF

What Other Films Has This Director Made? Nara, herself from Guaxuma, first studied journalism before trying her hand at film and stop motion with “Dia Estrelado”. Her latest is a hybrid-form short and is partly based off of her own experiences.

Documentary Shorts

Hall Of Fishes — Dir. Jennifer Boles

What’s It About? An all-archival film using the first underwater moving images of the ocean floor to explore the webs of power and violence behind the desire to see and know the ocean.

Where Else Has It Screened? Block Cinema (Chicago), Sound of Silent

What Other Films Has This Director Made? One of the more experimental filmmakers on our list, Jennifer abstracts sound and image in a way that helps us hear and see contemporary events and issues in a new way. While “Cowboy Town” is perhaps her most accessible work, her newest (“Reversal”) promises to be a new step for this filmmaker.

Riafn — Dir. Hannes Lang

What’s It About? “Riafn” is a cinematic journey into the soundscape of the Alps. Idiom, song, as well as calls and commands of shepherds are condensed to create a musical film between artistic ideal and documentarian realism.

Where Else Has It Screened? Oberhausen, Trento

What Other Films Has This Director Made? Hannes is a well-established documentary filmmaker at this point, having made a short and two features before this film. His first film, “Leavenworth, MA” captured an US-American town that became a tourist destination.

Experimental, VR & Other Shorts

Cosmic Spaghetti — Dir. Gurleen Rai

What’s It About? The aging patriarch of an organized crime dynasty transfers control of his clandestine empire to his reluctant son.

Where Else Has It Screened? This is its world premiere.

What Other Films Has This Director Made? Both Gurleen and F. Anthony Shepherd form the collective Zim+Teemo. We’ve interviewed them before, and are excited to see what’s next from the team that created the delightful and existential short series “Get Up, Pierrot”. Most notable about this short was its evolution from Instagram clips to complete film.

Lowland Kids — Dir. Sandra Winther

What’s It About? The Brunet family face upheaval as their island rapidly becomes uninhabitable due to climate change.

Where Else Has It Screened? SXSW

What Other Films Has This Director Made? We first talked about this film when it came to SXSW earlier this year. But we had to bring up Sandra’s first documentary again because of its timeliness (climate change) and its regional relevancy (bayou country).

Accused #2: Walter Sisulu — Dir. Nicolas Champeaux, Gilles Porte

What’s It About? A trove of 256 hours of sound archives of the Rivonia trial bring back to life the political battle waged by Nelson Mandela and his seven co-defendants against apartheid.

Where Else Has It Screened? Tribeca

What Other Films Has This Director Made? The directors behind one of our more anticipated Virtual Reality shorts at the fest recently had a documentary feature called The State of Mandela and the Others released. We are interested to see if this directing pair will continue to use VR technology for filmmaking or return to the traditional format. Either way, the documentary should be equally comprehensive and enlightening.

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