Sunday, October 14, 2007

Good docs, good discussions so far

NEW ORLEANS -- Screenings for the New Orleans Films Festival have been well attended by both filmmakers and the public. Yesterday, I went to an intriguing dialogue with filmmakers Vince Morelli (pictured below) and Jason Berry. They spoke about their stellar documentary, "Left Behind: The Story of the New Orleans Public Schools."

The investigative work charts the lives of three students during a two-year period. They all graduate and pass the LEAP test, but not without some serious struggles. One student in particular was shot five times and passed the LEAP on his fifth and final time.

Perhaps most shocking about the film was when students brought cameras into the classroom surreptitiously after the filmmakers were repeatedly denied access. In one instance, a teacher wandered disinterestedly in and out of the classroom, flashed his middle finger to the camera and then playfully (or not) double-kicked a student’s butt to get him moving down the hall.

Documentary filmmaker Vince Morelli addresses questions during a panel discussion that followed a screening of the film, “Left Behind: The Story of the New Orleans Public Schools.”

Patrons chat in the lobby of Canal Place Cinemas before a screening.

Screenings at Canal Place Cinemas appear to have been well attended.

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