Story by W. H. Bourne
Photos by Odin Lindblom and Amy Ransow
This year’s Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) at the Cinemark Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge featured 5 days of programming which showcased more than 70 films including some world premieres.
The newly created Southern Perspective category for features was a welcome addition providing more opportunities for local filmmakers to screen at LIFF. LIFF 2016 hosted over 30 filmmakers in attendance including Executive Producer Christy Turlington Burns (Giving Birth in America) and star Kelsey Grammer (Breaking the Bank) as well as world-renowned Louisiana-based musicians including Honey Vibe, The Batiste Father and Son of The New Millennium, Renew Cultural Arts Academy, and Princess Shaw (Presenting Princess Shaw). The Festival also treated attendees to food by Chef Sean Rivera of Driftwood Cask and Barrel, street performance by members from the LSU Golden Band from Tigerland & Golden Girls, live painting by TJ Black & Alex Harvie and Frank Venadas, and the popular Mentorship Program which included free makeup and hair services.
LIFF announced the Audience Award-winners for 2016 on Sunday night at the Closing Night Gala Reception for the 5-day film festival. (Note: There were no jury awards this year.) Winners included Best Feature Film: The Innocents, Audience Award: Presenting Princess Shaw, Best Louisiana Feature Film: My Father, Die, Best Documentary Film: No Greater Love, Best Louisiana Live-Action Short Film: With My Soul, and Best International Live-Action Short Film: Hotel Bleu. There was a tie for Best International Animated Short Film between Cuerdas and A Prank Time.
The festival ended on a somber note as Chesley Heymsfield, Founder and Executive Director of LIFF, noted the following about the death of Artistic Director Dan Ireland, “… Our team was eagerly anticipating Dan’s arrival at the 4th annual Louisiana International Film Festival, so when we did not hear from him on Opening Night, we instinctively knew something was wrong. The last thing I would have ever expected would to be standing in Dan’s place addressing the audience on Closing Night with a memorial to him. The impact of Dan’s passing was made even more poignant by being surrounded with people who have come to know and love him. The outpouring of sympathy for his passing with endless hugs and tears was overwhelming and still continues. No sense can be made from the unexpected loss of a good friend, especially during a time we expected to celebrate the festival together. Dan Ireland left us too soon. Dan was more than our Artistic Director, he was a very dear friend and valued mentor to everyone on our entire team offering his guidance, thoughts, encouragement and laughter. There was a lot of laughter. Dan leaves a legacy that lives within all of those who he touched and inspired.”
Ian Birnie, Program Director of LIFF, added, “I am so sorry I couldn’t tell Dan that the attendance at LIFF has doubled this year, screenings are selling out, and there is real energy in the place and on a weekend where my close friend and colleague is being greatly missed. But for the will of God, Dan would have been racing the halls of the Cinemark with me this past weekend urging audiences to clap for themselves and listing the merits of upcoming films in true pitchman style. If this small regional festival, which has grown by leaps and bounds this year, has a future, it is due in large part to Dan’s high standards and willingness to dream big on behalf of any project he was involved with…”
Despite this adversity, LIFF 2016 was one to remember with great films in a fun, festival environment that delivered good times and plenty of networking opportunities.