A little New Orleans jazz hit the Sundance Film Festival this week as the Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program (LIFF & MP) hosted an official “Mardi Gras at Sundance” launch parade and party. To take you there, we captured legendary jazz musician, Jonathan Batiste and his Stay Human Band leading the parade up Main Street from a rooftop in our HD Video: Sundance 2013 – LIFF Mardi Gras Parade on Main.
Kazoos, harmonicas, parasols, Mardi Gras masks, and beads were carried by revelers, who stopped in front of the famous Egyptian Theater to sing, “Don’t Take My Sunshine Away.” Despite the clouds, the King of the Parade “Conquistador” Alexander Antebi, Queen of the Parade Shanna Forrestall (Actress), Park City Mayor Dana Williams, Chesley Heymsfield (Executive Director, LIFF), Jeff Dowd (aka “The Dude”/ “The Big Lebowski” and Co-Artistic Director) and Dan Ireland (Co-Artistic Director) led the pack with pride.
Everyone appreciated the city shutting down Main Street for this special event. Chesley Heymsfield, Executive Director of LIFF, shared her thanks, “The whole city came together to make this happen and we are so excited about the warm reception by locals and festival-goers alike. We will take this same vibe and bring it to our inaugural Festival in Louisiana in April, along with world-class programming and mentorship.”
As the Queen of the Parade, Actress Shanna Forrestall, was grateful to represent her home turf, “As a Louisiana native, I’m thrilled to be on the LIFF team representing the State at Sundance. I was honored to be the Queen of the Mardi Gras at Sundance parade, and to be at the epicenter of this great event celebrating film with a fusion of music, creative energy and Louisiana culture.”
Once the crowd hit Ciseros (306 Main) for the LIFF & MP launch party, Park City Mayor Dana Williams jammed on harmonica with Jonathan Batiste on the keyboards. Fans enjoyed a full set by Jon and his Stay Human band. Executive Chef Chris Wadsworth from Restaurant IPO also provided Louisiana cuisine. Some of the celebrity guests included Isaiah Washington (Sundance 2013 film “Blue Caprice” and ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Jordan Engle (ABC’s “Body of Proof”.)
When asked about the why behind the LIFF, Chesley Heymsfield, explained, “The ‘Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program’ is rising up from a world where uniquely American storytelling and musical forms like blues and jazz were born to act as a conduit for our state’s ample and untapped creativity. LIFF is more than a film festival; it is a bridge between the local people who dream of becoming filmmakers and those veteran artists who know that mentorship can help to promote social change through direct access to opportunity. The LIFF & MP exists to promote Louisiana’s budding film industry year-round with mentorship and education while at the same time nurturing the state’s international reputation as a place of – and showcase for – artistic creativity.”
Many thanks to the event sponsors: Liza Kelso, Baton Rouge Film Commission, Chappapeela Farms, Inland Seafood (New Orleans), Jay Ducote, Chris Wadsworth, Restaurant IPO, Bite and Booze Radio and Community Coffee. And special shout out to the Louisiana International Film Festival Sponsors: Louisiana Office of Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne, Christopher Stelly, Louisiana Economic Development, Lamar Advertising, Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge, Pennington Family Foundation, Louisiana Technology Park, Noesis Data, Imogen Brown Memorial Fund and Founding Patrons: Winifred and Kevin Reilly, Jr. and John G. Turner and Jerry G. Fischer.
Similar to the Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival, The Louisiana International Film Festival and Mentorship Program will have year-round education events and mentoring programs. LIFF & MP has already shown “Beasts of the Southern Wild” in Baton Rouge with the cast, and took Jonathan Batiste and Stay Human to mentor students at Park City High while at Sundance. Make your plans now for the LIFF in New Orleans April 18-21, 2013. And if you are a filmmaker, submit your film by Feb 7, 2013, via http://lifilmfest.org.
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Sunrise Road Media http://sunriseroadmedia.com