Today marks the first day of the Louisiana International Film Festival (LIFF) taking place in and around Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge through Sunday, April 17. LIFF features over 50 film screenings from around the world, live music, DJ’s, free industry-led workshops, chances to meet filmmakers/cast members and more.
This is the fourth annual Louisiana International Film Festival. LIFF is a nonprofit organization founded by Chesley Heymsfield and Dan Ireland in 2013 that offers free workshops, educational opportunities, monthly film screenings and, of course, this annual festival. Jeffrey Roedel, LIFF press director, said, “I’m a movie fan who keeps an eye on a lot of independent films, and more than a handful of talented under-the-radar directors, so there are a lot of times when movies that I’m very interested in don’t get distributed to Baton Rouge or New Orleans. So if you’ve ever felt that way, or you’re open to stepping out a little and experiencing an impactful documentary or an award-winning foreign film then LIFF is the place to be, because this lineup is incredible. There is definitely something here for everyone, and in most of these cases, they are movies that would not be on the big screen in Louisiana were it not for LIFF.”
You can experience LIFF 2016 through a variety of ways including purchasing individual tickets at the Cinemark Perkins Rowe Box office or purchasing a pass at lifilmfest.org; discounted student passes are available. All workshops are free to the public.
Roedel said, “Chesley and Entertainment Director, Heather Day have done an amazing job pulling in some exciting offerings, particularly local music talent like The Michael Foster Project, Molly Taylor and ASKTHETHOMASBROS, artists TJ Black and Alex Harvie who will be live painting, and some of the most talented chefs. It’s those extra steps they’ve taken to utilize local talent and cuisine that really make LIFF more than a film festival. It’s total cultural event, and a very social one that everyone can enjoy.”
Singer/songwriter, Molly Taylor started singing at 11 and taught herself guitar and piano at the age of 15. Growing up near Covington, Louisiana she has lived in Baton Rouge since 2009. She took a recent performance hiatus from July of 2015 until February of 2016 to take time, reconnect with herself and to write. Taylor said, “I’m recording right now. When the record is out, sometime this year, I will start touring."
In the meantime, you can find her music on Reverbnation and youtube.
“I think that LIFF is great for Louisiana. We need more things like this. It is good to have a unique culture. Whenever you think of New Orleans, people think a million different cultural things. I want to get to a point where, when you think of Baton Rouge, people are like, ‘Oh Baton Rouge is this.’ I’m excited to play at the film festival,” Taylor said. Baton Rouge may not have as defined of a culture as New Orleans, but that does not mean the Baton Rouge music scene doesn’t have its own thing going on.
The Baton Rouge music scene is unique and different, valuable in its own way and full of local talent. Taylor said, “The Baton Rouge music scene is extremely positive because everyone gets along and is friends. I played with Denton Hatcher and Clay Parker not too long ago and everyone who played that show that night and a few musicians in the crowd got up on stage all at the same time and just started playing music together. There had to be at least 10 to 15 musicians on stage. And we didn’t practice, it just happened.”
ASKTHETHOMASBROS is a collective including two brothers: Thurman Thomas III and Torrence Lee Thomas. They are local musicians and creatives. They tell stories through beautiful imagery and creative consulting. They also run a nonprofit called Tankproof, which provides under served-kids with swimming lessons.
You can find their music on soundcloud.
When they were about 16, one of their Mother's friends taught them how to play guitar and bass respectively. "We progressed really quickly. Because of our acceleration, that put us in cool spaces and venues." To fill the time between gigs, they started playing in a cover band that gained a following in Baton Rouge, “You can make 6 figures a year doing cover music, but it got to a point for us where we wanted to do our own thing. Cover music was good in the short run but original music is where we wanted to go. We wanted to express ourselves through our own music and connect with people that way,” Thurman said.
Torrence added, "It comes to a point where you have to make a decision. Are you going to be the voice or are you going to be the echo? We had a voice as people and as individuals. We decided to endeavor to make original music."
Influenced by bands like The Gap Band, Maroon 5, Prince, Michael Jackson, Old John Mayer, Classic Kanye and NSYNC, Torrence said, “We have more pop influence than most of the regular urban contemporary R&B. Our sound is unique in that we blend the organic and the synthetic pretty well, in my opinion. I also don’t know another set of black twins who play and sing at the same time."
They released a single and then a two-song EP and now they're set to release an album before the end of 2016. Thurman said, “We’re going to release a full-length album. We have that in the works right now. I’ve always been afraid of an album but that’s what is next for us." You can find the Thomas Brothers playing gigs around town in addition to pursuing entrepreneurship and creativity and in the words of Torrence, "making dope stuff."
ASKTHETHOMASBROS and Molly Taylor will be playing Thursday night at the gala after party for the Louisiana International Film Festival. You can find out about passes and more information about LIFF and how you can attend on their website. And always, #ListenlocalBR
Emily McCollister is the Editor of Jive Flamingo. She is a native Baton Rougean and a poet. You can follow her on Instagram @emilyy.jeann or subtweet her on Twitter @emilymc89.