First Wave of Films Announced for LIFF 2017


The Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentor-ship Program 2017
At Perkins Rowe – Home of The Louisiana International Film Festival
Movie Premieres at Cinemark Perkins Rowe
>Baton Rouge, Louisiana
April 20-23, 2017

Baton Rouge, March 13, 2017 – The 5th annual Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) announces its first wave of film selections to premiere during the four-day film festival, representing only a portion of the 50 plus films from Louisiana and around the world to be announced in the coming weeks.

The festival will kick off on Thursday, April 20 with the anticipated special presentation of PATTI CAKE$. PATTI CAKE$ marks the feature film debut of music video director and Indie band Fever front man, Geremy Jasper, who also wrote the screenplay. Focusing on the career aspirations of a brash rapper from New Jersey named Patricia “Killa P” Dombrowski, the film stars Australian actress Danielle McDonald who was hailed for her breakout performance in the lead role. Produced by the New Orleans-based Department of Motion Pictures, PATTI CAKE$ will be released by Fox Searchlight.

The first wave of films also includes Terrence Davies’ acclaimed portrait of Emily Dickinson, A Quiet Passion, starring Cynthia Nixon (Sex in the City); The Commune, a bittersweet drama inspired by Swedish master filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg’s (The Ceremony) own unusual childhood; Abacus, Too Small to Jail, the powerful new documentary by Academy-Award winner Steve James (Hoop Dreams); The Happiest Day in The Life of Olli Mäki, an offbeat Finnish comedy and winner of Un Certain Regard prize at the Cannes Film Festival; the World Premiere of The Ryan Francis Story by Louisiana filmmaker TaRhonda Bazille who revisits the tragic shooting of a gifted and much loved Baton Rouge athlete; and, last but not least, The Book of Clarence, a musical tribute to the Blind Boys of Alabama founder Clarence Fountain. Scheduled to appear for a Q&A are Fountain, director/lyricist Lee Breuer of Mabou Mines fame, and producer Eric Marciano.

As home of the Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program, Baton Rouge’s premier mixed-use destination, Perkins Rowe blends shopping, dining, entertainment, office, residential and grocery in a pedestrian-friendly environment that appeals to both regional tourists and local residents. Perkins Rowe features 375,000 square feet of retail space, including anchors Barnes & Noble, Cinemark, CVS, The Fresh Market and LA Fitness; 135,000 square feet of office space; and more than 306 multi-family units with an additional 340 units under construction. “We are thrilled that LIFF has chosen to call Perkins Rowe home for the past five years,” says Perkins Rowe General Manager Branden Barker, CPM, CCIM, CSM. “Our ability to host organizations like LIFF at our unique facilities is a point of pride for the entire Perkins Rowe staff. LIFF is one of many contributors to Baton Rouge’s thriving arts culture and we look forward to supporting the arts community again this year.”

The following films are included in the First Wave announcement for LIFF 2017 hosted this April 20 – 23 at Cinemark Perkins Rowe located at 10,000 Perkins Rowe Baton Rouge, LA 70810:


Patti Cake$ (USA 2017 / 108 min.) scr/dir: Geremy Jasper

A breakout hit at Sundance in January, this raucous and fresh tale from first-time writer-director Geremy Jasper follows burly and brash Patricia aka ‘Patti Cake$’ (newcomer Danielle Macdonald) who is fighting an unlikely quest for glory in her downtrodden hometown in New Jersey. Despite the weight of a dead-end bar job, an alcoholic mother, and a beloved grandmother with mounting medical bills (in an epic portrayal by award-winning actress Cathy Moriarty), Patti is an intoxicating mixture of swagger, vulnerability, and contagious energy. Not only celebrating the aspirations of a character who dreams big, this crowd-pleasing film also compassionately portrays the frustrations and inner strength of three generations of women. Produced by New Orleans company The Department of Motion Pictures, Patti Cake$ announces Jasper and Macdonald as major talents. A Fox Searchlight release.


Kedi (Turkey 2016 / 79 min.) dir: Ceyda Torun

Anyone who has ever visited Istanbul will have noticed cats, cats and kittens: in cafes, streets and shops; on chairs, on terraces, on roofs. All well fed, well groomed and, well… friendly. A ravishing depiction of the fabled city of minarets and aquatic vistas, this deft film follows seven distinctly different cats on their daily rounds and offers a cat’s eye view of the unique bond that can exist between human and feline. Director Torun, a child of Istanbul, admits: “Without cats, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

A Quiet Passion (UK | Belgium / 125 min.) dir: Terence Davies

An Oscar buzz already surrounds Cynthia Nixon, vibrant and heartbreaking as Emily Dickinson. Ms. Nixon perfectly conveys the wit, intellectual independence and pathos of the reclusive poet whose genius only came to be recognized after her death. Acclaimed British director Terence Davies (Sunset Song, LIFF ‘16) exquisitely evokes Dickinson’s deep attachment to her close-knit family along with the manners, mores and spiritual convictions of her time, all of which she struggled with and transcended in her poetry.

The Book of Clarence (USA 2017 / 99min.) dir: Lee Breuer

Meet Clarence Fountain, the blind gospel singer and founding member of the Grammy award-winning ‘Blind Boys of Alabama.’ Despite illness and his more than 80 years, Clarence still performs: with long time guitar player Sam Butler Jr. in his Baton Rouge home; and in recording studios and African-American Baptist churches across the Deep South. Under the direction of Lee Breuer of Mabou Mines fame, this affectionate portrait includes footage of the Blind Boys’ classic performances including “The Gospel at Colonus,” a celebrated theater piece that opened on Broadway in 1988.


Cézanne and I (France 2016 / 117 min.) dir: Daniele Thompson

Shot on location in Provence and Paris, this historical fiction film explores the lifelong friendship of two renowned 19th century French artists – painter Paul Cézanne (Guillaume Gallienne) and writer Emile Zola (Guillaume Canet) By tracing their journey from schoolmates to rivals, Director Thompson reveals an epic reversal of fortune: Zola, fatherless and poor, joined the very bourgeoisie he mocked in his youth; while Cézanne, born of wealth, rejected society to focus entirely on his work. The more Zola embraced fame, the more success eluded Cézanne… A fascinating film.

The Commune (Sweden 2016 / 111 min.) dir: Thomas Vinterberg

In this uproarious and warm-hearted social comedy, Swedish director Thomas Vinterberg (The Ceremony) again trains his bemused gaze on the perils of family life, in this case, a trendy experiment in communal living. Bored with routine and energized by the permissiveness of ’70s Copenhagen, happily married Anne and Erik assemble a motley crew of co-habitants in the capacious family home. Let the games begin! It is Anne (in an award-winning performance by the great Trine Dyrholm) who learns first how quickly and how painfully new values can collide with old habits.

MŠkThe Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki (Finland 2016 / 92 min.) dir: Juho Kuosmanen

Winner of the Un Certain Regard prize at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, this impressive debut from Finnish filmmaker Juho Kuosmanen is based on the true story and follows the lead up to the 1962 world featherweight championship title match in Helsinki between Finland’s Olli Mäki (a delightfully appealing Jarkko Lahti) and the champion, American Davey Moore. Photographed in atmospheric black and white and featuring meticulous period detail, the film centers on Olli’s struggles to drop weight while juggling his overbearing manager, the adorable Raija with whom he has fallen head over heels in love, and a stressful media blitz. A boxing drama on the surface, but underneath a love story about a young man’s fight to balance his expectations and desires.


The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (2017 USA / 90 min.) dir: Jennifer Kroot

Author Armistead Maupin’s San Francisco -set Tales of the City have inspired millions to throw off the shackles of conformity and claim their own truth. In this playful, sometimes poignant film, director Jennifer Kroot offers a disarmingly frank look at Maupin’s journey from the conservative Old South and the jungles of Vietnam to the epicenter of gay rights, the AIDS epidemic and the culture wars in which the PBS adaption of Tales played a major role. Helping tell ‘the untold tales’ are friends Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Sir Ian McKellen, Amy Tan, Margaret Cho and Jonathan Groff.

Abacus: Small Enough to Fail (USA 2016 / 88 min.) dir: Steve James

Legendary documentarian Steve James returns to tell the incredible saga of the Chinese immigrant Sung family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York. Accused of mortgage fraud by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., Abacus becomes the only U.S. bank to face criminal charges in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. The indictment and subsequent trial forces the Sung family to defend themselves – and their bank’s legacy in the Chinatown community – over the course of a five-year legal battle.

Score (USA 2016 / 93 min.) dir: Matt Schrader

This musically dense and informative documentary gives viewers a behind the scenes look at the musical challenges of the world’s most widely known music genre: the film score. Among the Hollywood composers who appear in the film are legends like Alex North (A Streetcar Named Desire), Elmer Bernstein (The Magnificent Seven), and Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in the West). Among the renowned contemporary figures who discuss their craft are John Williams (Star Wars), Hans Zimmer (Inception), Danny Elfman (Edward Scissorhands), Trent Reznor (The Social Network), Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel), and Howard Shore (The Lord of the Rings)

Obit (USA 2017 / 96 min.) dir: Vanessa Gould

What makes a life worth remembering and how do you convey years of experience and achievement into 1000 words? Meet the small, articulate and witty staff of obituary writers at The New York Times who must every day by 5:00 pm craft details, facts and oddities into fitting monuments to a notable life… be it a Nobel Prize winner or the inventor of the Slinky. At its best, a good obit rises above the daily din of war, politics, and football scores and is often the most read article in the daily paper. Gould’s eye opening, inside tour of the ‘dead beat’ proves that in a vanishing world of daily newspapers, the NYT obit department is in a class of its own.


The Ryan Francis Story (USA 2017 / 87 min) dir: TaRhonda Bazille

Nearly a decade ago, 19-year-old Southern Cal guard and Baton Rouge native Ryan Francis was gunned down during a trip home for Mother’s Day. A gifted athlete who led the Glen Oaks HS basketball team to a state title, Francis is but one casualty in an epidemic of “kids killing kids.” TaRhonda Bazille’s important and heartfelt film denounces the senseless violence that cuts down men in their prime while paying tribute to a remarkable individual who lives on in the hearts of family and friends.

Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (USA 2017 / 80 min.) dir: Stanley Nelson

Following the huge success of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution (LIFF ’15) master filmmaker Stanley Nelson turns his eye to another branch of African American history: education. Denied formal schooling prior to the Civil War, freed slaves embraced higher learning at more than 100 Black colleges and universities that flourished in the century that followed. Nelson shows how these institutions cultivated generations of leaders in a vast array of areas Ð culminating in the Civil Rights movement – while redefining what it means to be black in America. Post-screening discussion with Nelson.

N.O.L.A Circus (France | USA 2015 / 86 min.) dir: Jean-Luc Annast

In a unique cross cultural initiative, 12 international athletes representing 4 different sports came together to produce French director Jean-Luc AnnestÕs rollicking comedy set in Algiers Point, a black neighborhood of New Orleans. Revolving around the denizens of 2 barbershops on oppos ite sides of the street, the film pits Will, a black hairdresser who preaches racial tolerance against Marvin, a well-known sex addict who’s having a passionate affair with a small-time pot dealer. When three Ku Klux Klan members show up to kidnap Will… complications (and hilarity) ensue.

The Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program continues to grow exponentially, drawing sellout crowds to screenings of more than 50 films from around the world, including world premieres and the newly -minted Southern Perspective category. LIFF 2016 proudly hosted over thirty filmmakers in attendance, including Executive Producer and Model Christy Turlington Burns (Giving Birth in America), Actor Kelsey Grammar, (Breaking the Bank), Singer Princess Shaw (Presenting Princess Shaw) and more.


Passes are on sale now to LIFF 2017 through the official festival website A limited number of passes may be sold.

VIP Pass offers access to unlimited film screenings over the four-day festival, with first selection of films starting on March 30 before the general admission box office opens, priority seating to all films with reserved reclining seating, entry into ALL special events with live music and entertainment as well as VIP food and drink benefits for $1,000. This is considered a Patron donation to the 501(c)3 non -profit organization.

All Access Passes offer access to unlimited film screenings over the four-day festival with first selection of films starting March 30 before the general admission box office opens, priority seating to all films and entry into all special events with live music and entertainment, for $100.

Student Passes offer access to unlimited film screenings with selection of films starting on March 30 plus entry into Gala Receptions and After Parties with live music and entertainment for $50 with a valid student ID.

All Mentorship Program master classes, workshops, demonstrations and panels during the festival are free of charge and open to the public.

Film Sponsorships are currently available for contribution through a company or individual until April 1, 2017 with full details of benefits on the festival website:


Executive Director Chesley Heymsfield launched LIFF, a non-profit organization, in 2013 to create a world-class film festival experience for Louisianans, to connect the local residents with the active film industry in the State and provide a forum for education, exposure and entertainment. “We are incredibly fortunate to be able to host an international film festival in Baton Rouge for all of Louisiana to enjoy. This organization was built with the intent to serve our community and provide access to the world culture films that we otherwise may not be able to see, meet filmmakers and innovators from all around the world, attend mentorship program workshops with special guest speakers and special events with live music, food, drinks, art and entertainment for an all around international film festival experience in your own back yard.”

The LIFF 2017 programming team includes many film festival and industry veterans: Program Director Ian Birnie (Mumbai International Film Festival, Los Angeles County Museum) and Guest Programmer Lane Kneedler (AFI, Sundance, Cinevegas ).

LIFF is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development of Louisiana’s film, digital media and innovation talent and representation of that talent to the world via the annual Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF), Louisiana Film Society and Mentorship Program. LIFF aims to provide a forum where talent may obtain skills and relationships that enable them to play a central role in the industry and for the community to be involved in the movement.

INTERVIEWS: Chesley Heymsfield (Executive Director), Ian Birnie (Program Director), Lane Kneedler (Guest Programmer), Jency Hogan (Liaison Director), Filmmakers & Special Guests



Name: Marsanne Golsby

Cell: (225) 235-2234



2 comments on “First Wave of Films Announced for LIFF 2017

  1. Kathy Richard on

    I was excited to hear that the film “One Note at a Time” about our beloved Louisiana and New Orleans musicians would be be screened but do not see anything on your website.
    Can you help? Many of my friends want to see this film shot in Louisiana but when I send them to this website, it is not there.

    • Louisiana International Film Festival on

      Hi Kathy! I’m so glad to hear about your interest in the Festival! You can read about “One Note at a Time” here:

      We have show times on the right side and will soon have direct links to purchase tickets once they are live within the Cinemark system. We’re fortunate enough to be showing this film twice during the festival. We hope to see you there!


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