Ahead of the 25th anniversary of the New Orleans Film Festival, which takes place Oct. 16-Oct. 23, actor John Goodman joined officials with the New Orleans Film Society to urge support for the festival and for the Greater New Orleans Foundation’s GiveNOLA Day.
Tuesday is GiveNOLA Day, a 24-hour online donation period designed to encourage contributions to more than 300 nonprofit organizations in the New Orleans region, including the New Orleans Film Society, which presents the film festival.
“This is an incredible time for us,” film society president Alexa Georges said Tuesday at the Hotel Modern. “We’ve been around for 25 years and we’re looking forward to the next 25 years.”
Georges introduced Goodman, a longtime New Orleans resident, as the New Orleans Film Festival’s newly designated Hollywood liaison.
“I don’t know what that entails yet,” Goodman said later. “But I’ll pretty much do whatever they want me to do.”
Goodman’s wife, Anna Beth, a Louisiana native, is chair of the film festival’s 25th anniversary committee.
“She dragged me into this, but very willingly,” Goodman said. “I’ve always wanted to be a part of things, but every time I get set to do something, I’d have to leave town. So this I can handle.”
Jolene Pinder, the film society’s executive director, said the organization has been speaking to Goodman for some time about him taking the role of festival ambassador.
“A lot of people from Hollywood connect to the festival,” Pinder said. “But John, as much as he works in Los Angeles, is rooted in New Orleans. He is the person who can liaise with the film industry and let them know what an exciting destination New Orleans is for showing films.”
Goodman was a college student when he made his first visit to New Orleans in 1972. Enchanted, he returned to the city whenever he could afford the trip. He later spent the fall and early winter of 1985 in the city filming “The Big Easy.”
“Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin were the stars of the movie, but the real star was New Orleans,” Goodman said at the Hotel Modern press conference. “And it is that something that New Orleans has. It’s more than just a setting, a background. It becomes a character in every film they shoot down here. I don’t think you find that anywhere else.”
Playing the part of college professor Creighton Bernette in the New Orleans-set HBO series, “Treme,” Goodman had the rare of pleasure of working near his New Orleans residence.
“A lot has changed between the time of ‘The Big Easy’ and filming ‘Treme,’ ” he said at the press conference. “More movies are filmed in Louisiana than anywhere else in the world. We’ve got studios, we’ve got soundstages, we’ve got flights to Los Angeles and, of course, we have a world-class film festival.”
The film society also held an open house Tuesday at its new offices on the fourth floor of the Contemporary Arts Center. The organization has 1,200 members and an email list of 25,000.
The 2013 New Orleans Film Festival attracted more than 22,000 attendees, nearly three times its 2010 attendance. Film submissions in 2013 tripled from 2009, totaling 1,514 from 55 countries.