The 2016 Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program has more than 40 films on its slate.
The festival programmers, Lane Kneedler and Ian Birnie, know there’s a lot to digest. However, they are hopeful that the festival has a little something for anyone interested.
“We tried to appeal to different segments of the audience,” Birnie said. “The program this year has a range of films — everything from foreign films to documentaries on social issues.”
So we sat down with Kneedler and Birnie to see what they recommend. What follows is a short list of films. They are the potential sleeper hits and possible award winners that you might be hearing about well after the festival is finished.
“Miss Sharon Jones!” 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14
“Our opening film is from a two-time Oscar winner, Barbara Kopple,” Birnie said. The documentary focuses on soul singer Sharon Jones as she battles pancreatic cancer.
“The Adderall Diaries” 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 15
“This is a brand new film from director Pamela Romanowsky, starring and produced by James Franco,” Kneedler said. “It was a passion project for (Franco) that’s based on a famous memoir. It’s full of sex, drugs, violence and intrigue. It’s a very vibrant and exciting, young, energetic new film.”
“Sidemen: Long Road to Glory” 9 p.m. Friday, April 15; and 12:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16
A new documentary about the blues players who have played alongside musicians such as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Birnie called this “a pretty great piece of musical archaeology.” The film just premiered at the South by Southwest film festival and will have its second screening in Baton Rouge.
“Marguerite” 1:40 p.m. Saturday, April 16
Birnie called this French comedy a delight. Catherine Frot, best actress winner at this year’s César’s Awards, plays a wealthy woman who dreams of singing at the opera.
“Raiders!” 2:15 p.m. Saturday, April 16
This documentary follows three 11-year-old Mississippi children who, in 1982, tried to remake the classic “Raiders of the Lost Ark” with a Super 8 mm camera. “It’s one of those things that people have to see to believe,” Kneedler said.
“Presenting Princess Shaw” 4:30 p.m. Saturday; April 16; and 3:10 p.m. Sunday, April 17
A documentary about a New Orleans singer, Samantha Montgomery, who posts homemade a cappella clips on YouTube. Then, an Israeli musician finds Montgomery’s material and makes her a star.
“Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World” 4:20 p.m. Saturday, April 16
Filmmaker Werner Herzog’s latest film plunges audiences into the depths of the Internet. The film just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to glowing reviews. “It has Herzog’s distinctive voice,” Birnie said.
“Dheepan” 6:30 p.m. Saturday, April 16
Jacques Audiard’s award-winner tells the story of a refugee who concocts a fake family to gain passage to France. The film took home the Palme d’Or at Cannes. “It’s an intense art house movie that won’t open in the U.S. until May,” Birnie said.
“Maya Angelou And Still I Rise” noon Sunday, April 17
This new film is the first feature-length documentary about its subject.
“No Greater Love” 2:30 p.m. Sunday, April 17
Armed with a camera, chaplain Justin Roberts (who now lives in Lafayette) follows comrades in the Afghanistan war. “This guy was right with the soldiers,” Birnie said. “But the film also shows what happens after the war, how these soldiers are dealing with coming home and with PTSD.”
“Seven Days in Nepal” Sunday, April 17 at 2:30 p.m.
A documentary about New Orleans contractor Michael Fenasci, who traveled to Nepal after the earthquake to help rebuild. “It’s Americans at their best,” Birnie said. The screening will be the world premiere of the film.
Follow Matthew Sigur on Twitter, @MatthewSigur.