The 26th New Orleans Film Festival hit the midway point Saturday. Day four of the New Orleans Film Society’s eight-day signature event featured 31 screenings, filmmaking panels and a wrap party at the New Orleans Event & Film Studios.
Saturday’s four screenings at the newly restored Orpheum Theater included the festival’s “centerpiece” films: the Hank Williams biopic “I Saw the Light” and the political-satirical drama “Our Brand Is Crisis.” Both were made in Louisiana.
Fittingly for a movie about classic country singer-songwriter Williams, a local country band, the Wasted Lives, performed in the Orpheum lobby before the “I Saw the Light” screening.
Introducing the Shreveport-shot movie, Jolene Pinder, executive director of the New Orleans Film Society, noted the production’s Louisiana roots. “It’s incredibly important for us at the New Orleans Film Festival to showcase films that were shot in Louisiana, to bring them home and share them with our local audiences,” Pinder said.
Among the local cast members of “I Saw the Light” attending the screening was James DuMont. An actor who’s worked in 120 films and TV programs, DuMont plays a Texas mayor who books the country music star for a show in his small town.
DuMont, a Chicago native, his Baton Rouge-born wife and their son and daughter, both of whom are actors, moved from Los Angeles to New Orleans in May.
Earlier this year, DuMont’s 50th acting role in five years, as a BP executive in “Deepwater Horizon,” brought him back to Hollywood South. His 10 weeks of work on the film about the 2010 oil rig disaster followed four years of local work in “Treme” and two years in “American Horror Story.”
Most of the projects DuMont has acted in during the past five years have been in Louisiana, he said. “I’m happy for it,” he said Saturday in front of the Orpheum.
DuMont’s local projects include “The Butler,” the Oscar-winning “Dallas Buyers Club” and a new film that likely will be a contender this awards season, “Trumbo.”
Bryan Cranston stars in “Trumbo” as blacklisted 1940s screenwriter Dalton Trumbo. DuMont plays the pivotal role of U.S. Rep. J. Parnell Thomas, chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. He shares scenes with Cranston, Helen Mirren and many supporting actors.
In a first for DuMont, his daughter, Sinclair, 14, and son, Kelton, 12, soon will work together in a film. An Oscar-winner will direct.
“The family business,” DuMont said. “That’s what Hollywood South is for us.”
The New Orleans Film Fest continues through Thursday, with screenings at the Orpheum, Prytania Theatre, Contemporary Arts Center, Canal Place, Ogden Museum and Chalmette Movies.