New Orleans-filmed “12 Years a Slave” to open festival

The 2013 New Orleans Film Festival, running Oct. 10 through Oct. 17, will open with a premiere screening of the New Orleans-shot “12 Years a Slave.” The movie’s director, Steve McQueen, will attend the screening, to be held at the recently renovated Civic Theatre.

The festival will close with “Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker,” a documentary by local filmmaker Lily Keber about the brilliant, troubled New Orleans pianist who died at 43 in 1983.

“12 Years a Slave,” set in the pre-Civil War United States and based upon a true story, stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup, a free black man in upstate New York who is abducted and sold into slavery.

Michael Fassbender co-stars as a malicious slave owner and Brad Pitt, one of the film’s producers, plays a Canadian abolitionist who meets Northup during the twelfth year of his slavery.

“12 Years a Slave” also features Paul Giamatti, Michael Kenneth Williams and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” co-stars Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry.

Houma actress Wallis received an Oscar nomination for her performance in the Louisiana-shot “Beasts.”

Both “12 Years a Slave” and “Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker” represent New Orleans’ burgeoning film scene, said Jolene Pinder, executive director of the New Orleans Film Society.

“We are honored that the New Orleans Film Festival will be the premiere for both films,” Pinder said. “With these two films bookending the festival, we can showcase both larger productions now calling Louisiana home while also celebrating our indigenous filmmakers.”

All-access passes will go on sale on Aug. 15 at neworleansfilmsociety.org ($125 for film society members, $150 for nonmembers).

Pass holders are granted admission to all screenings and events at the festival.

General admission for all other festival screenings (including closing night) will go on sale Sept. 30 for film society members and Oct. 7 for nonmembers.

To purchase passes and for more information, visit www.neworleansfilmsociety.org.