The buzz in movies right now is what’s going on at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. And for the fourth year in a row, the Louisiana International Film Festival is getting in on the fun.

The Baton Rouge-based nonprofit hosted its annual Mardi Gras Masquerade on Tuesday for crowds attending Sundance.

The masked event began with a second line to the venue, where more than 1,300 attendees were in attendance, organizers said.

The venue was transformed into an ode to New Orleans jazz clubs with Spanish moss and plastic beads littering the balcony as funky beats encouraged partygoers to dance and snap.

Visitors dined on food from chefs Cody and Samantha Carroll, of Hot Tails Restaurant in New Roads and Sac-A-Lait in New Orleans, as well as chef Sean Rivera, of the upcoming Driftwood Cask and Barrel in Baton Rouge. The food included red beans and rice, a vegetarian gumbo and king cake, of course.

No Louisiana party can go on without music, either, and the masquerade featured sounds from C.C. Adcock and Zydeco bluesman Curley Taylor.

Louisiana artist T.J. Black live painted the event, adding eccentric costumes and personalities that flooded the venue on a large canvas on one side of the room while partygoers watched.

LIFF executive director and event organizer, Chesley Heymsfield, said that by creating an international film festival for the state, local artists are able to share work with artists throughout the country.

The event provides the Louisiana festival an opportunity to grow as well.

“It is a great way to market what we are doing in the state to professionals in film, music and innovation,” Heymsfield said. “Most importantly, it’s a way for us to keep the goodwill going in the film industry for Louisiana.”

“We’re here for a good reason, we’re not promoting a corporate brand. We’re promoting people in a state that are far away from here, but we do it in a kindred way.’’

What’s buzzing at Sundance this year

The Birth of a Nation

Directed by Nate Parker, this drama is about Nat Turner, the American-born slave who led the most successful slave rebellion in American history. Parker starred in and wrote this film, which also features actors Armie Hammer, Jackie Earle Haley, Penelope Ann Miller and Gabrielle Union.

Manchester By the Sea

Director Kenneth Lonergan (“You Can Count On Me,” “Margaret”) returns with a drama starring Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Kyle Chandler. Early reviews have called this a masterpiece.


A documentary about the former New Orleans Saints defensive back Steve Gleason, the film focuses on Gleason’s resilience after being diagnosed with ALS and tackles the nature of heroism.

Green Room

Director Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin”) returns with a thriller about a struggling punk band that witnesses something horrific backstage. Patrick Stewart, Anton Yelchin and Alia Shawkat star.