Kevin Costner’s N.O.-filmed ‘Black and White’ to open festival _lowres

Photo by TRACY BENNETT -- Octavia Spencer, left, and Kevin Costner star in 'Black or White.'

The New Orleans Film Festival will open its 25th anniversary year with Kevin Costner’s New Orleans-filmed drama, “Black and White.” The screening will take place Thursday, Oct. 16, at the Civic Theatre.

This year’s closing film, showing Thursday, Oct. 23, is “The Big Beat,” a documentary directed by Joe Lauro about classic New Orleans rhythm-and-blues musicians Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew.

“Both opening and closing night selections have a special resonance for our city,” said Jolene Pinder, executive director of the New Orleans Film Society. “ ‘Black and White’ is a testament to the thriving film industry in Louisiana and the meaningful stories being filmed here. ‘The Big Beat’ honors the singular contributions New Orleans artists have made to our country’s musical history.”

The festival also announced the titles of 14 narrative and documentary films that will compete for a grand jury price.

“It is a special privilege to live in New Orleans and be a part of its thriving film and entertainment industry,” said actor John Goodman, the festival’s official Hollywood liaison. “Over the past 25 years the New Orleans Film Festival has developed into a world-class event with original and innovative programming that has helped put New Orleans on the map. This year’s lineup is the most diverse and exciting program I’ve seen in years.”

“Black and White” stars Costner, Octavia Spencer and New Orleans native Anthony Mackie. Directed by Mike Binder (“Reign Over Me,” “The Upside of Anger”), the film tells the story of a widower grandfather (Costner) who is raising his bi-racial granddaughter. A legal battle ensues when the girl’s paternal grandmother (Spencer) seeks custody.

“New Orleans as well as the state of Louisiana has come to my rescue more than once as a filmmaker,” Costner said. “It was the difference between me making my movie and not. The group of filmmakers that exists here made it possible, and nothing feels better than bringing it back for them to see the vision that united us all in work.”

New Orleans native Terence Blanchard, a veteran film composer who has frequently collaborated with director Spike lee, wrote the “Black and White” score.

"The Big Beat" profiles singer-pianist Domino and his trumpet-playing producer, Bartholomew. One of music’s most successful partnerships, the team recorded dozens of national hits.

“I see ‘The Big Beat’ as not only the story of Fats Domino and Dave Bartholomew, but a tale of New Orleans, the city where Dave and Fats have always lived and where their music was born,” Lauro said. “Having our film’s world premiere at the New Orleans Film Festival is an honor. It somehow completes the circle.”

All-access festival passes will go on sale on Sept. 1 ($200 NOFS members, $250 general admission). Tickets and passes will be available for purchase at Tickets will be available for purchase online for film society members only Oct. 1. The main box office opens Oct. 13, at which time tickets go on sale to the public.