10000 Celtic Drive #705, Baton Rouge, LA 70809 | Office: 225-330-6151
What is LIFF?
The Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program (LIFF) aims to act as a conduit for education and outreach where the residents of Louisiana may obtain skills and relationships that enable them to play a central role in the State’s burgeoning film industry. Created as a nexus for local talent, LIFF provides access to opportunity through carefully developed mentorship programs, workshops, guest lectures, and competitive screenings. The festival's signature event is its inaugural launch April 18 - 21, 2013 in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana (USA).
What is this festival all about?
A film festival is an extended presentation of films in one or more movie theaters or screening venues, usually in a central location. Film festivals provide an excellent platform for filmmakers and distributors to build an audience prior to distribution. Sometimes there is a focus on a specific filmmaker or genre or subject matter, such as horror film festivals. The Louisiana International Film Festival will focus on American Independents, World Cinema and Louisiana’s unique arts & culture, music and history.
Why do we need this?
Currently, due to the quickly expanding Louisiana film industry, we need to develop a supportive creative infrastructure that acts as a conduit for local filmmakers to connect, learn from and work with filmmakers coming into State. The Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program can be an active part of that vital network. Currently there is no film festival model in the State that provides top-tier workshops, mentorship programs, co-production or a distribution markets. LIFF can grow to become this model.
Why not? Louisiana currently has one of the best tax incentives in the country for filming. For the last decade several states have fought to be the entertainment industry’s second home by providing excellent incentives. Louisiana has succeeded and is known as the State that offers the best incentives in the country for filming. We believe with the film festival’s international recognition, that a newly minted talent pool will be formed. It is our desire that organic networking, mentoring and training programs grow out of this artistic professional gathering. Having a festival is a natural progression in contributing to the burgeoning growth.
Chesley Heymsfield, Executive Director
Chesley has worked with talented artists from all around the world on independent feature films, music videos and commercials. As a producer, she engenders support for the creative process. Her first music video Aesop Rock's "Fast Cars" was nominated for three MTV Woodie Awards in 2005 (Best Video of the Year, Most Watched and Best Animation), aired at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood and Anthem in London. She line produced “Don’t Feel Right” music video for internationally acclaimed band The Roots and popular Italian singer DJ Jad’s music video, “This Feeling”. Supporting talent to produce high quality projects is her passion. Chesley line produced the cult comedy feature film, “Team Extreme” for Fox/Fuel TV, which premiered at X-Dance at Sundance 2006, a series of commercials for J. Walter Thompson Chicago and short films for Mandate Pictures (Juno, Finding Neverland). Her independent produced feature film, “The Woods Have Eyes” was released on Blu-Ray by Echo Bridge. As Producer, Chesley’s Nike commercial entitled “Goal” for the World Cup Soccer 2006 games was an Official Honoree for both Telly and Webby Awards.
Chesley cofounded representation firm Pangea Reps in the heart of Santa Monica and managed such companies as: Stan Winston Studios and ReelFX for commercial production/post/vfx. She served as visual effects producer on theatrically released “Bratz” and visual effects associate producer on “Hostel: Part II”. She co-wrote the feature film screenplay "Vijj" to be directed by Robert Englund based on a novel by the Russian author Nikolai Gogol and served as liaison for her the Royal Family of Qatar for a biography film on the poet Rumi. She also adapted the feature thriller screenplay, "Webcam" for Spanish-based Sole Goldstern Media and “I Want To Be A Soldier” for Barcelona-based Canonigo Films. “I Want To Be A Soldier”, filmed in Spain with Danny Glover and Robert Englund, won the Rome International Film Festival 2010 Kid’s Choice Award.
Jeff Dowd, Co-Artistic Director
Jeff Dowd is a Los Angeles-based writer/producer, producer’s representative, and a nationally recognized authority on marketing, distribution and exhibition. Mr. Dowd was a producer of ZEBRAHEAD which Oliver Stone Executive Produced. ZEBRAHEAD won the Filmmakers Award at the Sundance Film Festival and was released by Sony Pictures. He Co-Executive Produced FERNGULLY...THE LAST RAINFOREST, the animated feature starring Robin Williams, Tim Curry and Christian Slater. It was released by Twentieth Century Fox and won the Environmental Media Association (EMA) Best Picture award. Jeff Dowd helped raise $30 million of financing for independent pictures in recent years.
Jeff is currently attached as one of the producers on several movies that will be made in the next year—all of which set the bar very high. “We will only make movies with great scripts. We believe we can make movies that are entertaining and commercial that will also contribute to a better world for us and our children.” Jeff Dowd Mr. Dowd has consulted on the marketing or been a producer's representative of such diverse films as: Blood Simple, The Black Stallion, Chariots Of Fire, The Grey Fox, Gandhi, Heart Like A Wheel, Desert Hearts, War Games, Hoosiers, The Stunt Man, Hearts And Minds, Desperately Seeking Susan, The Blair Witch Project, Dream With The Fishes, Better Luck Tomorrow, Kissing Jessica Stein, The Cockettes, Scratch, Easy, Neil Young’s Greendale And Heart Of Gold, Metallica: Some Kind Monster, Green Street Hooligans, The Thing About My Folks with Peter Falk and Paul Reiser and Carroll Ballard’s Duma. Mr. Dowd has been on the board of the Independent Feature Project, the International Documentary Association, the Sundance Film Festival and the Advisory Board of the Sundance Institute.
Dan Ireland, Co-Artistic Director
Dan Ireland began his career as the co-founder/co-director of The Seattle International Film Festival. In the 1980's, Ireland was the co-owner / cooperator of The Egyptian Theatre, the most successfulindependent theatre in the state of Washington. Ireland remained at the theatre and festival until 1986, where he was Executive Vice President of Acquisitions for Vestron Pictures. It was at Vestron that Ireland developed his filmmaking skills. During his time there, he was Executive Producer of fifteen films including John Huston's final film ‘The Dead’ (two Oscar nominations), Bernard Rose's feature debut ‘Paperhouse’ and Ken Russell's ‘The Rainbow’.
In 1996 Ireland made his debut as a feature director for Cineville with the highly acclaimed film, THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, starring Vincent D'Onofrio and Renee Zellweger also produced by Ireland and D'Onofrio. It was this performance that introduced Zellweger to producer James L. Brooks and director Cameron Crowe for her follow up film, ‘Jerry Maguire’, and launched her into international stardom. ‘The Whole Wide World’ was on over 50 top ten critics year end lists and won Zellweger the coveted National Society of Film Critics award for most promising newcomer of the year. D'Onofrio was named runner up as Best Actor by the same organization for his performance. Ireland re-teamed with D'Onofrio for 1998's controversial ‘The Velocity of Gary’, the film also starred Salma Hayak and introduced Thomas Jane (The Punisher).
In 2003, Ireland directed the romantic comedy, ‘PASSIONADA’, released to critical acclaim by The Samuel Goldwyn Company and internationally by Columbia-TriStar Pictures. It was her performance in this film that brought Emmy Rossum to the attention of director Joel Schumacher for the lead role in Andrew Lloyd Weber's ‘The Phantom of the Opera’. Ireland's next film, MRS. PALFREY AT THE CLAREMONT, based on the celebrated novel by the late English novelist, Elizabeth Taylor, stars the legendary Dame Joan Plowright (Lady Olivier, and star of Enchanted April) in her largest screen role to date.
In 2008, Dan Ireland embarked on the journey of bringing E.L. Doctorow’s provocative short story JOLENE to the screen. Jolene is the story of a young woman’s odyssey through America, ages fifteen through twenty-five, her survival, and her ultimate quest to find love. The lead actress, Jessica Chastain, whom Ireland introduced to the screen with this role, won the coveted Best Actress Award at The Seattle International Film Festival for her performance, and it was also this film that launched her career as a leading actress and introduced her to the world. Her subsequent roles have included, ‘The Tree of Life’ for director Terrence Malick, ‘The Help’, for which she was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actress, and most recently the lead role in Kathryn Bigelow’s eagerly awaited film, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’, about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden. Starring opposite Jessica Chastain in ‘JOLENE; are Rupert Friend (Mrs Palfrey at The Claremont, Homeland), Dermot Mulroney, Michael Vartan, Chazz Palminteri, Denise Richards and Frances Fisher. The film was released in November, 2010. The Director’s Cut of the film was released on DVD Spetember 2012. Dan Ireland re-teamed with Renee Zellweger in her first outing as a producer to make ‘LIVING PROOF’, the story of Dr Dennis Slamon, the creator of Herceptin, the only drug effective in the combat against breast cancer. Neil Meron and Craig Zadan also executive produced. The film aired on Lifetime as part of their Breast Cancer Awareness Month to great acclaim and drew over 16 million viewers. The entire production was filmed in New Orleans. Upcoming, Dan Ireland is set to direct MR LIVELY, an original screenplay written by Ireland and Bradley Jackson in the summer of 2013, and is also attached to direct NOBODY NOWHERE, a film about a young woman’s struggle with Autisim, based of the true story of Donna Williams and her journey to becoming an internationally acclaimed writer. Dan Ireland will also serve as Co-Artistic Director (along with Jeff Dowd) for The Louisiana Film Festival, set for April 2013.
Shanna Forrestall, Louisiana Liaison
Shanna was born and raised in South Louisiana in a small town called Gonzales (located on a bayou between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. She is a serious and trained film and television actor who has studied a version of the Eric Morris process, and studies with an Ivana Chubbuck certified instructor.
Shanna continues to work on feature film and television projects, and her natural charm and warm smile also continues to win her a place in many regional and national commercials.
Shanna splits her time between New Orleans, Louisiana and Los Angeles, CA. She is a dual citizen - legally able to live and work in the United States and Canada.
Clinton H. Wallace, Strategic Relationship Coordinator
Acclaimed celebrity photographer and indie filmmaker extraordinaire Clinton H. Wallace has over two decades experience working in the entertainment industry. In addition to being a staple at Hollywood A list red carpet events setting the tone of each event, with his vibrant images that are reminiscent of his exotic German and Scottish-Jamaican background, Wallace has also produced or executive produced numerous award-winning independent feature films.
After spending five years consulting with Inartmedia.com. Wallace joined Cinema Epoch as a full-time director of marketing and promotions in which he had the responsibility of marketing films for its banner CineRidge Entertainment and Photomundo International. He is also the co-founder of Lane City Films (Lanecity.com). From its launch date, Lane City Films has produced seven films, turning it into one of the fastest growing independent production companies. Wallace is currently serving as lead producer on the gripping drama “Blue Dream,” directed by Gregory Hatanaka, starring Walter Koenig (Star Trek) and James Duval (“Donnie Darko”) with Dominique Swain (“Lolita” and “Alpha Dog”), and as executive producer on the horror thriller “Machete Joe.” Wallace is a regular on the international film festival circuit and brings his vast entertainment industry experience and unwavering dedication to any project he gets involved with. A New Jersey native, he holds a B.S. in Communication Studies from New York University.
Alan Abrahams, Director of Music Programming
As an award winning record producer of more than 80 albums over the last 45 years, Alan Abrahams has worked with some of the most notable artists, songwriters/composers, and musicians in the music business and film industry including Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, Les McCann, Taj Mahal, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dolly Parton, The Memphis Horns, and The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Alan is a five-time Grammy nominee. His productions have topped the Billboard Pop, Jazz, International and Country charts. He has worked with noted composers such as the late Jerry Goldsmith on the Academy Award winning soundtrack to The Omen, to most recently with multi Academy Award winner John Williams on a benefit compilation for Save The Children.
Alan continues to consult using his expertise in music publishing and music licensing and also specializes in the area of sampling working with more than 60 samples licensed from a multitude of artists, publishers and labels, including the most current sampling used by Jay Z and Genya Ravan for the Warner Bros. film “Gangster Squad”.
As a former executive producer for RCA Records, Alan was part of the team that brought Hall & Oates to RCA for a string of hits, starting with “Sara Smile” and oversaw day-to-day production operations for the roster on the West Coast. As Vice President of Light Records, he brought the then floundering Gospel label to Billboard’s “Spiritual Label of the Year” during his three year tenure, and produced 14 top 5 albums.
In his early career, Alan spent many years as a touring musician, opening for such acts as BB King, The Allman Brothers, and Janis Joplin. As the recently appointed Director of Music Programming for The Louisiana International Film Festival, Alan is excited to bring a new history of events to the highly influential music state of Louisiana and looks forward to continue to immerse himself in the rich heritage and vibrant music mecca.