Daytrip: New Orleans Film Festival

Phrases like “They’re filming on my street” and “I saw McDreamy running the lakes” have become part and parcel of our conversations in Baton Rouge, getting little more than a raise of the eyebrow instead of the gasps such anecdotes might have once invoked.

With arguably the most successful film credit tax incentive program in the country, Louisiana’s film industry has bolstered Baton Rouge to a permanent spot among the ranks of “film cities,” just behind New York and Los Angeles. Among the beneficiaries of the exploding interest in film here is the New Orleans Film Festival, an annual event with attendance up an astounding 40% last year as organizers screened the work of more than 60 filmmakers.

This month, the festival returns Oct. 14-20, with plenty to offer Baton Rougeans looking for a creative daytrip. The New Orleans Film Festival will screen both locally and nationally produced films at several venues, including the historic Prytania Theatre, The Theatres at Canal Place, Second Line Stages and a new addition: a drive-in screening. This year’s jury panel will include 2011 Academy Award winners Melissa Leo and Luke Matheny along with Treme star Wendell Pierce. In addition to films—including LSU screenwriting instructor Zack Godshall’s latest directorial effort, Lord Byron—the festival will showcase free panel discussions and a series of parties open to the public.

Before settling into your screening schedule, grab a bite at some of New Orleans’ hottest local favorites. LA Thai (4938 Prytania Street) offers a unique and delicious blend of Louisiana seafood with traditional Thai flavors. Top it off with a little something sweet from Creole Creamery next door (4924 Prytania Street), then walk to the theater just down the street. Or grab a drink and appetizer at French-inspired Ste. Marie, located at New Orleans’ newest and hottest digs, 930 Poydras Street.

After the festival, skip the Quarter and head to Frenchman Street, where you can hear the best local reggae, jazz, hip hop and everything in between at local favorites like Maison, dba, Spotted Cat and Cafe Negril.

For a complete festival schedule, visit neworleansfilmsociety.org.