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The 2012 Maryland Film Festival was held the first weekend of May and I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer as a Box Office Sales Rep each day. It allowed me to speak with attendees and cinephiles alike. Not only did I work, but I got to see loads of films and catch many great Q&A’s. Most of the films you’ll read about in the festival posts will not be easy to search for at your local theatre or Netflix queue becase many are still in distribution limbo and haven’t been picked up yet (as is the case with many festivals). Don’t let it discourage you! Just be patient and keep counting down the days until (insert a summer blockbuster you’re looking forward too i.e. The Dark Knight Rises) opens! But if you need a quick fix, check out www.md-filmfest.com for a complete list of films and their filmmakers.


Tchoupitoulas (2012) Directed by Bill Ross and Turner Ross.


As soon as I saw this name (pronounced Chop-a-Two-Luss) I was excited. A documentary about New Orleans nightlife? I’m there. When attendees purchased tickets, it was fun to see them attempt to pronounce the word and then help them pronounce it proper. For those that did pronounce it correctly, it was a great way to start a conversation of “Oh you’ve been to New Orleans before?” With some high hopes, I made my way into the Charles Theatre and…

Much like a drunken night in New Orleans, everything becomes a blur of colors and a few moments are remembered outside the order from which it happened. This documentary by Bill and Turner Ross does a perfect job of showcasing just that, but in a different way. Rather than making a comedy about a couple guys having a wild night in the Big Easy, they decide to show the debauchery and excess of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter through the eyes of children. The documentary focuses on three boys who live on the other side of the Mississippi River in Algiers. One night they decide to take the ferry and explore the Quarter and all it has to offer. Much like Detropia, this film splices the subject at hand with beautiful and rarely seen shots of New Orleans throughout the night and into the early morning. As the boys look into windows of Jazz Clubs and some of the more “adult” clubs on Bourbon, the documentary does a great job transitioning into scenes these boys may be dreaming or fantasizing about. Some of those scenes are music, some are dancing, and some are “dancing” (nudge nudge, wink wink) but nothing ever gets gratuitous. After coming across Mardi Gras parades (Krewe de Vieux to be specific) and street performers galore, the boys make their way back to the ferry only to find the last one has left. They’re alone in the Quarter for another six hours until the ferry comes back. Like any red-blooded youth, they explore back alleys, Frenchmen Street, and even some abandoned Steamboats until they can return home. The documentary is solid. If you’ve never been to New Orleans, this will convince you to go as soon as possible, and if you’re like me (someone who lived there for quite some time) you’ll find yourself reflecting back fondly on your days and nights spent in the Crescent City. This looks like a film that will end up in a Netflix Queue or VOD list near you so search for it there!

The Brothers filmed for eight months prior to meeting the boys. They bumped into them and asked if they wanted to be in a documentary. The directors were born and raised in New Orleans wand they wanted to showcase what they had saw when they were kids: “ a seedy world”. The words Tchoupitoulas (for those that do not know is a street that runs from Canal Street to the ends of Uptown) has nothing to do with the film. It just happened to be a favorite word of theirs so they used it. When asked if there were many scripted moments or anything that the directors might have suggested to the boys, the directors responded with a no, stating that all of the moments were real, they just happened to be presented in more of a dream-like state where the journey is real and the scenes of the musicians and the dancing were presented more like imaginations of the boys as they looked through the windows. The directors have a deal with the youngest boy, William, that if he gets straight A’s in school, they will take him out for laser tag. Sadly, William has not yet received straight A’s, always missing his goal by a B or two.

 

 

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