After 32 years running his movie-focused Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center in numerous locations in New Orleans — from the defunct Pussycat Caverns in Bywater to Lower Magazine Street to a post Hurricane Katrina residency at the Tulane School of Architecture — Rene Broussard is moving again. He opens Zeitgeist Theatre & Lounge a block outside the New Orleans city limit at 6621 St. Claude Ave. in Arabi this week.
“I’ve never felt this much energy and excitement about moving to a place,” Broussard says.
After nearly a decade on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, Broussard had to move when the plans for the warehouse space changed. Zeitgeist shared the space with a coffee shop and hair salon, however, and that precluded him from scheduling daytime movies. The new space has both a 125-seat theater and a separate lounge, and Broussard is expanding his programming, both with matinees and more live entertainment. Zeitgeist is known for its diverse array of films, from foreign movies to documentaries, independent and experimental projects, curated under Broussard’s longtime slogan, “Something for and against everyone.” At the new space, live music, comedy, theater, spoken word and burlesque will become regular instead of occasional events.
There’s a soft opening featuring Helen Gillet on Lundi Gras, during the Arabi Carnival pub crawl March 4th on the River. Zeitgeist officially opens at 6 p.m. Thursday with an art reception and with music by Neslorchestra and The Naked Orchestra. Trolsen is a trombonist known for combining jazz, rock and funk. His bands Neslort and Neslorchestra have explored those genres and beyond. Squirrel Nut Zipper and bluesman Jimbo Mathus will lead the Naked Orchestra, a large ensemble inspired by improvisational music. There’s food from Kitchen Table Cafe and wine from Mystic Vine. Zeitgeist will be BYOB until it receives a liquor license.
Opening week film screenings include “Lords of Chaos,” in which a young musician uses ever more provocative publicity stunts to promote his Norwegian black metal band, a story based on the 1980s Oslo band Mayhem. “Smaller and Smaller Circles,” is a thriller based on Filipino writer Felisa Batacan’s award-winning novel of the same name. Set in the slums of Manila, a serial killer preys upon poor youth and two Jesuit priests detect a pattern and try to catch the murder.
Zeitgeist opens its International Children’s Film Festival series on March 8 with the Oscar-nominated “Mirai” from Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda. In “Mirai,” 4-year-old Kun’s life is turned upside down when his baby sister is born. “The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales,” which features stories of unlikely animal friends, opens March 15.
Zeitgeist screens “A Man and his Trumpet: The Leroy Jones Story” at 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, March 8-9. Jones was a member of Danny Barker’s Fairview Baptist Church Band, a veteran of traditional jazz and brass bands and a member of Harry Connick Jr.’s orchestra. He’ll introduce the film and participate in Q&A sessions after the screenings.
Cat videos take over on Sunday and Tuesday, March 10 and 12. Cat Video Fest 2019 features short films and funny and bizarre videos culled from the internet. The screenings benefit animal shelters.
Other upcoming programming includes a reading and celebration of Palestinian-American poet Mahmoud Darwish at 7 p.m. Monday, March 11. The Oscar-nominated documentary, “Of Fathers and Sons,” about a family that splinters over a member’s embrace of radical Islam, opens March 15. The Patois: New Orleans International Human Rights Film Festival screens films at Zeitgeist beginning March 20. Patricia Clarkson stars in “Out of Blue,” a noirish crime story about a murdered scientist, which opens March 22.
Zeitgeist’s new location previously housed the Valiant Theatre & Lounge, which shuttered in April 2018. The space was renovated by Mitchell Gaudet, whose glass art gallery and workspace Studio Inferno is next door. The building is owned by the Meraux Foundation, which is developing art and culture projects in the area.