The Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program (LIFF) hosted its official Mardi Gras at Sundance launch parade and party complete with hundreds of revelers and police escorts last week.
The parade was led by the legendary jazz musician Jon Batiste and his band Stay Human, and King of the Parade "Conquistador" Alexander Antebi, who were joined by Queen of the Parade Shanna Forrestall and Park City Mayor Dana Williams, LIFF Executive Director Chesley Heymsfield, Jeff "The Dude" Dowd and Dan Ireland
Revelers danced, pranced and swirled up Main Street with kazoos, harmonicas, parasols, Mardi Gras masks and colored handkerchiefs, while Sundance Film Festival attendees and Park City locals alike stopped traffic and leaned out of cars to grab pictures, video and cheer on the revelers. Even a local UPS driver swung out of his van to record the scene.
"As a Louisiana native, I'm thrilled to be on the LIFF team representing the state at Sundance," said Forrestall. "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."
King of the Parade, "Conquistador" Antebi remarked, "We defrosted Main St. with Louisiana hot saucy-ness."
"The whole city came together to make this happen and we are so excited about the warm reception by locals and festival-goers alike," said Heymsfield. "We will take this same vibe and bring it to our inaugural Festival in Louisiana in April along with world-class programming and mentorship.
Baton Rouge Film Commission's Liza Kelso remarked, "It is one thing to experience The Sundance Film Festival for the first time, it is another to be a part of something this memorable! The music of Jon Batiste and Stay Human, the incredible food from our hometown chefs at IPO helped make the launch of the Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program the hottest ticket in town."
Upon reaching Cisero's, the paraders enjoyed a full set by Batiste and Stay Human, and was provided with a world-class Louisiana cuisine by Executive Chef Chris Wadsworth from Restaurant IPO (http://www.restaurantipo.com ), Jay Ducote from Bite and Booze Radio (http://www.biteandbooze.com), Chappapeela Farms, Inland Seafood New Orleans and Community Coffee.
Some of the guests that participated in the festivities were Isaiah Washington (Sundance 2013 film "Blue Caprice, ABC's "Grey's Anatomy") and Jordan Engle (ABC's "Body of Proof").
Event sponsors included: Baton Rouge Film Commission, Chappapeela Farms, Inland Seafood (New Orleans), Restaurant IPO, Bite and Booze Radio and Community Coffee. Sponsors of the Louisiana International Film Festival include: Louisiana Office of Lieutenant Governor, Lamar Advertising, Credit Bureau of Baton Rouge, Pennington Family Foundation, Louisiana Technology Park, Noesis Data, Imogen Brown Memorial Fund, Founding Patrons — Winifred and Kevin Reilly, Jr. and John G. Turner and Jerry G. Fischer.
The Louisiana International Film Festival is currently accepting submissions until February 7. Filmmakers can submit their films at http://www.lifilmfest.org and http://www.withoutabox.com . The inaugural festival runs April 18-21.