Serenade for Haiti Film Festival

Students and teachers tell the story of Port-au-Prince in the Film Festival's 'Serenade for Haiti.'

The New Orleans Film Festival, which runs Oct. 11 through Oct. 19, announced additional programming Friday. The festival’s issue-oriented change makers slate of documentary programming includes films about recent protests against Confederate monuments, farmworkers’ union activists in the 1960s and AIDS activism.

“We see change makers as being hand in hand with our commitment to showcasing underrepresented voices in film,” said Clint Bowie, the New Orleans Film Society’s artistic director.

“These issue-driven documentaries often speak to the struggles of marginalized communities and give voice to individuals and groups who are often unheard.”

As previously announced, 53 percent of the films at the 28th New Orleans Film Festival were directed by women and 45 percent by directors of color.

“Culturally relevant and responsive programming is always at the heart of the New Orleans Film Festival,” said Fallon Young, the film society’s executive director. “But this year our programming team put forward ‘Change Makers’ as a formal way to recognize the power of great storytelling to leave a lasting impact on audiences, spark significant dialogue and shape the world we live in.”

The newly announced 2017 programming also includes the return of “Caribbean Cinema,” with five feature films and 10 short films that cover the historical and cultural ties between the Caribbean and New Orleans. The films are from Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti.

All-access film festival passes are on sale at


Change makers

“ACORN and the Firestorm”: Before it was associated with all things wrong with liberalism during the 2008 election, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now wielded more power than nearly any antipoverty community rights group in American history. The New Orleans-based Wade Rathke founded the organization.

“Small Town Rage”: Narrated by Lance Bass, this documentary chronicles the work and influence of ACT UP Shreveport in the conservative Deep South.

“The Organizer”: A documentary about the life and philosophy of controversial community organizer Wade Rathke, founder of ACORN.

“Sick to Death!”: Thyroid disease is among the most commonly misdiagnosed afflictions for women in the U.S. Director Maggie Hadleigh-West documents her experience with the illness.

“Tell Them We Are Rising”: A film about historically black colleges and universities. Directed by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson.

“On Our Watch”: A film about coastal land loss in south Louisiana featuring interviews with activists, academics and community leaders.

“Nothing Without Us”: This documentary contradicts the stereotype that only men are affected by AIDS. Locations include New Orleans, Los Angeles, Oakland, California, Nigeria, Burundi and Spain.

“Quest”: A portrait of the North Philadelphia music duo featuring Lindsay Utz Christopher and Christine'a Rainey, aka Quest and Ma.

“Dolores”: A film about Dolores Huerta, the farmworker activist and feminist who co-founded the first farmworkers unions with Cesar Chavez.

“Our 100 Days”: This collection of seven short documentaries explores threats to democracy in the U.S., as well as communities that are vulnerable in a polarized political climate.

“The Magnifying Glass”: Three documentary shorts by Louisiana filmmakers about social injustices within communities where the filmmakers live.

“More than Monuments”: These three documentary shorts focus on the removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans. The films include “Divided City,” “Silent Parade or the Soul Rebels Vs. Robert E. Lee” and “Goodbye Old Glory.”

Caribbean films

“Samba”: From the Dominican Republic, this feature film follows a young man who returns to his homeland after a prison stay in the U.S.

“Serenade for Haiti”: Director Owsley Brown weaves a musical account of Port-au-Prince through words and performances from students and teachers at Sainte Trinité Music School.

“Play the Devil”: Moving between the confusion and possibilities of youth, “Play the Devil” tells a story about Gregory, a teenager on the cusp of graduation in a Trinidadian town.

“Coming and Going”: A young translator from a small Haitian city wonders if he should stay in his community or join the exodus abroad in search of other opportunities.

“Adolescencia”: In 2002, a teenager in Puerto Rico films vignettes and tries to get a girl's attention.

Cuban shorts

“Days of Wholesome Joy”: In this short film from Cuba, a woman must care for her dementia-afflicted grandmother.

“Parade”: Students from New Orleans travel to Cuba for a cultural exchange.

“Connection”: A portrait of a park in Havana where, thanks to public Wi-Fi, a new kind of meeting place arises.

“Charlie”: Four decades after hijacking a plane to Cuba to avoid charges of killing a state trooper, a former black-power militant reflects on his past in a letter to his 9-year-old Cuban son.

“Manuel”: By train tracks in Havana, 87-year-old Manuel brews an aphrodisiac juice called pru.

“Forever, Comandante”: Living in the shadow of the revolutionary generation’s unrelenting Cuban ideals, Ernesto, a 14-year-old barber, wants to get a tattoo.

“Fighting Cuba’s Boxing Ban”: In Cuba, where women are banned from competitive boxing, a 13-year-old girl steps into the ring.

“Prince of Smoke”: A Cuban tobacco farmer and artisanal cigar maker fights to preserve his family’s 171-year old legacy.