Friday, September 30, 2022

Oxford Film Festival Touts Coveted Spirit of the Hoka Award

Oxford Film Festival_2016

February’s popular Oxford Film Festival (OFF) approaches just around the corner as the city prepares itself for the influx of national and international visitors alike.

As formulates its A-Z packaging of the festival – the winners, laudable efforts and celebrations during the five-day event – we thought it might be interesting to re-visit some of the unique staples that the festival offers its guest filmmakers; in particular, the winners of each particular category (listed below) and what they receive for their effort.

First up; the unique and coveted Spirit of the Hoka award itself.

Oxford Film Festival executive director Melanie Addington
Oxford Film Festival executive director Melanie Addington
OFF executive director, Melanie Addington, was tasked early this morning with furnishing a little background on the award, it significance and how it was chosen as the ultimate prize for winners at the festival.

First and perhaps most important; the Spirit of the Hoka statuette was created by renowned Taylor sculptor and retired Ole Miss professor Bill Beckwith who has enjoyed success throughout the LOU community for years.

Ron Shapiro's Hoka Theater operated in Oxford from 1976-1996
Ron Shapiro’s Hoka Theater operated in Oxford from 1976-1996

The award itself is named for the Hoka Theater, founded by Ron Shapiro in Oxford in the 1970s. The combination movie house and café first brought independent films to town and served as a cultural nexus for the townspeople and college students. At the time, it was a rare and special treat for a small town in Mississippi. It helped to coalesce a community of film buffs, too; a community that has blossomed under the care of the film festival over the past decade-plus.

The local theater was named after Princess Hoka, the Chickasaw woman who, according to legend, first deeded much of Mississippi including the area now known as Oxford to white settlers back in 1832 via the Treaty of Pontotoc.

Each year, the winners of the following categories earn the coveted Spirit of the Hoka award: narrative feature and short; documentary feature and short; animation; experimental and Mississippi narrative; documentary; and music video categories.

New to the festival this year will be a best editing award, selected by head programmers and staff, which will also receive a Hoka statuette and the first-ever Alice Guy-Blaché Award for female filmmakers.

Outside of the Hoka statuette, there are many other categories earning different awards that will be doled out this February; valuable new additions along with the familiar ones filmmakers have competed for over the successful 13-year span of the festival.

The 2016 Oxford Film Festival will take place February 17-21 and will be held predominantly at Malco Oxford Commons. A full schedule (including events not being held at Malco Commons); film dates and times and summaries of each are planned for separate features to be published before the festival kick-off in mid-February.

The Hoka statuette is the most coveted award presented at the annual Oxford Film Festival held in mid-February
The Hoka statuette is the most coveted award presented at the annual Oxford Film Festival held in mid-February

Jeff McVay is a staff writer and graphic designer for He can be reached at

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