The Florida Project still 1 for Red

In A Perfect World Oscar for Best Picture —'The Florida Project' starring Willem Dafoe, left, and Brooklynn Prince, who gets our In A Perfect World Oscar for Best Actress. 

“The Florida Project,” a drama about a 6-year-old girl and her rebellious, struggling mother, will open the 28th New Orleans Film Festival, the New Orleans Film Society announced Thursday.

Screening Oct. 11 at the Orpheum Theater, “The Florida Project” is the latest film from writer-director Sean Baker. Two-time-Oscar nominee Willem Dafoe, child actress Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite, in her debut performance, lead the cast.

The society also announced the festival’s closing night selection and several of its Spotlight films, notable works that are outside of the festival's competition categories.  The festival’s closing night film, “Call Me by Your Name,” screens Oct. 19 at the Ace Hotel New Orleans. A coming of age story set in Italy, “Call Me by Your Name” stars Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet.

Spotlight films this year include “Darkest Hour,” “The Upside,” the Thurgood Marshall biopic “Marshall” and the Richard Linklater-directed “Last Flag Flying.” Spotlight films will screen in theaters throughout New Orleans during the festival, which runs Oct. 11 through Oct. 19.

“The New Orleans Film Festival is committed to providing a platform to elevate artists’ voices,” said Fallon Young, executive director of the New Orleans Film Society. “We are proud to open the 28th New Orleans Film Festival with ‘The Florida Project’ and are excited to showcase this amazing film to our festival attendees.”

“These films represent some of the most exciting filmmaking happening today,” said Clint Bowie, artistic director with the film society. “They are all doubtlessly headed for awards attention, and we’re thrilled to share them with our festival audience before they're released to the general public.”

All-access passes, weekend passes, unlimited film packages and six-film packages are on sale now at


Opening, closing and Spotlight films

“The Florida Project”: Moonee, 6, and her mother live at the Magic Castle budget motel near Disney World. Despite the harsh surroundings, the precocious Moonee makes the most out of life. Willem Dafoe, child actress Brooklynn Prince and Bria Vinaite, whom director Sean Baker (“Tangerine”) discovered via Instagram, lead the cast.

“Call Me by Your Name”: Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet star in this coming age story set in an Italian villa. Hammer plays Oliver, a 24-year-old research assistant from Columbia University, and Chalamet plays the 17-year-old Elio.

“Last Flag Flying”: “Boyhood” director Richard Linklater helms this drama about three Vietnam War vets who reunite for a road trip up the East Coast. star. The men are on a poignant mission to bury the Carell character’s son, a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq. Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston and Laurence Fishburne star.

“Marshall”: Chadwick Boseman headlines this biopic about the early years of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Josh Gad co-stars. Set at the brink of World War II, the film follows NAACP attorney Marshall’s defense of a black chauffeur who’s accused of sexually assaulting and attempting to kill his wealthy socialite employer.

“The Upside”: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman star in this drama based on a true story. “The Upside” chronicles the unexpected friendship between a paralyzed Park Avenue billionaire and an ex-convict. The men bridge their differences and, in the process, gain invaluable wisdom and renewed passion for life. Directed by Neil Burger (“The Illusionist,” “Limitless”).

“The Darkest Hour”: Gary Oldman portrays Winston Churchill, prime minister of the United Kingdom, in this drama set on the eve of World War II. As the Nazis storm Europe, Churchill must convince an unprepared public and skeptical king to make a stand for liberty.