NOMA to screen Oscar-winning animated film

It’s a Friday night, the work week is over and you want to do something fun – really fun. The late-night music scene is certainly an option, but have you ever considered the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)?

If not, this may be the week to give it a try.

On Friday, Friday, Nov. 23, NOMA presents – for the third time – a screening of the Oscar-winning animated short film “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore,” directed by William Joyce and Brandon Oldenberg of the Shreveport-based Moonbot Studios.

Based on the William Joyce animated app for children, this 15-minute film takes place in New Orleans, where during a devastating hurricane, bibliophile Lessmore is whisked away to a magical library of flying books. Lessmore becomes the custodian of the library and shares his love of the written word with others.

“We have a 200-seat auditorium, and we filled it both times,” public events manager Brad Caldwell said of the previous two showings. “It’s such a touching story and so beautifully done.

He expects a similar crowd Friday night.

“When local people do something great, people want to see what it is that they did that was so fantastic,” Caldwell said of Moonbot Studios. “This is a tribute to New Orleans. After (the previous two screenings), the auditorium was dead silent. People came up to me and said they were so touched by what they saw.”

In addition to this year’s Academy Award for Best Animated Short, the silent film has won more than a dozen other awards, including “Audience Award Winner” at the Austin Film Festival, “Best Animated Short” at the Cinequest Film Fest and an “Audience Award” at the Florida Film Fest. There is also a printed book by the same name.

The screening of “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore” will be preceded by an 11-minute documentary that explains how the film was conceived and made.

“The wonderful thing about the short is that it uses many forms of animation – hand-drawn, computer animation and three-dimensional,” Caldwell said. “There are also a couple of characters that are inspired by actual people in New Orleans. The reason we show the documentary first is so that you’re in the know when you watch the short.”

The screening is free with museum admission as are all the other activities that have become synonymous with Friday nights at NOMA, including live music and an art-making activity geared to families.

“People get to take a little keepsake with them,” Caldwell said.

This Friday, the museum also will commemorate Native American Heritage Month with a lecture by Paul Tarver, curator of Native American and pre-Columbian art. The Scott Sibley Outfit, a jazz/funk/latin/R&B band, will provide the music.

“What’s constant is the music and the art-making,” Caldwell said. “We’re trying to make it as diverse as we can for all different age groups.”

And if you get hungry while you’re there, no worries. Café NOMA by Ralph Brennan stays open until 9 p.m.

NOMA began its Friday night programming, dubbed Where Y’Art, about a year ago as a way of appealing to a broader audience. The museum had offered a similar slate of programs on Wednesday nights, but felt Friday nights would be a more popular alternative.

It was the right move, Caldwell said.

“It is kind of a national trend, and the response has been wonderful. It’s been a great way for people to experience the museum.”

Where Y’Art runs from 5 to 9 p.m. The screening is at 7:30 p.m. Admission to the museum is $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 7-17. For more information, call 504.658.4100 or go to www.noma.org.