Los Angeles-based artist and Paris native Pascal Giacomini seems like an odd figure to participate in the Ghetto Biannale expo in Haiti, but speaking French helped him build relationships with street artists in Port-au-Prince and elsewhere. His documentary "Out of Chaos" is among 20 films in the New Orleans French Film Festival, and connections to Haiti are highlighted in the live music presented before screenings at the Prytania Theatre.
The festival's features and documentaries come from France and Francophone regions, including Acadiana and Canada, and touch on French culture around the globe.
Giacomini's hourlong "Out of Chaos" meanders in its narrative about his experiences in Haiti, but it offers a colorful tour of the back streets to meet folk artists and craftsmen, most of whom work with salvaged wood and metal, car parts and more. The film is set against the backdrop of the earthquake that devastated the nation in 2010; work in the 2011 Ghetto Biennale literally was built out of the rubble. The artists overcoming poverty and the disaster is set against the background of Haiti's colonial history and the slave revolt that liberated it from France.
The Intergalactic Krewe of Chewbacchus parade rolls Feb. 9 in Marigny
After Giacomini began traveling in Haiti, he and his Haitian-born wife opened a gallery and began selling Haitian art in Los Angeles. As he built relationships, he spent more time on the island. For the Biennale, Giacomini made sculptures there. The film also includes traditional sequined Voodoo flags as well as self-taught and more formally established painters. "Out of Chaos" screens at 1:45 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16 at Prytania Theatre.
The Krewe of Kanaval, the Haitian carnival-inspired New Orleans group founded by Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Regine Chassagne, curated the festival's musical program.
The new Cajun music of the Lost Bayou Ramblers also gets a spotlight at the festival. Director Bruno Doria premieres his hourlong documentary "On Va Continuer!" about the band at 5:45 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17. Much of the film was shot during the recording of the band's 2018 Grammy Award-winning album, "Kalenda." After the screening, Doria will participate in a Q&A session and the band will perform a live set.
Opening night features "Gaspard at the Wedding," director Antony Cordier's offbeat 2018 film about strained family relations. After years of polite estrangement, Gaspard returns to his family's zoo for his father's wedding to a new stepmother. On the way, he convinces a woman he meets to accompany him as if they are dating. (7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 15.)
The award-winning "Custody" is an expanded version of director Xavier Legrand's Oscar-nominated 2013 short film "Just Before Losing Everything." In it, Julien's life is turned upside down when he is caught in the middle of his divorced parents' custody battle. (8 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 and noon Thursday, Feb. 21.)
Among the documentaries is "Yellow is Forbidden," about Chinese designer Guo Pei's quest to ascend to the top of the Paris fashion world, beginning with the spectacle of the hand-embroidered yellow gown Rihanna wore to the Met Gala in 2015. (Noon on Sunday, Feb. 17 and Wednesday, Feb. 20.)
The festival also includes short films, a screening of Jean Cocteau's 1946 version of "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Image Book," a cinematic collage released recently by filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard.