By Carson McKinney
Anyone with an interest in learning about film production is encouraged to attend Oxford Film Festival’s upcoming events.
In April, Oxford Film Festival is holding two “Dinner with a Filmmaker Fundraiser” nights where attendees can talk with Hoka award-winning directors about the filmmaking process. The first one will be held at Newk’s Eatery on University Avenue April 9 and feature John Reyer Afamasaga, who won in the Mississippi Film (Short/Feature) category for his film “Door Ajar: The M.B. Mayfield Story.” 15 percent of all meal receipt proceeds will go to Oxford Film Festival upon mention.
Afamasaga is from New Zealand and moved to Oxford two years ago. He is relatively new to filmmaking, getting into the profession after serving as a volunteer for Oxford Film Festival and winning their Best Volunteer of the Year award in 2018. According to Oxford Film Festival Executive Director Melanie Addington, Afamasaga brings an interesting perspective to filmmaking in Mississippi.
“He’s fascinated with the South,” Addington said. “Being from outside of it, he’s interested in finding those commonalities between where he is from and where we are now.”
Afamasaga says the Oxford community has been welcoming and hospitable to him and his wife, and he hopes he brings a positive impact to the community.
“I think we play an important role in bringing social and political issues to the forefront in a creative way so they may be discussed openly and hopefully resolved,” Afamasaga said.
The second fundraising night will be held at McAlister’s Deli April 30 and feature Southern Documentary Project Director John Rash, who won in the Music Documentary category for his film “Negro Terror.” Twenty percent of all meal receipt proceeds will go Oxford Film Festival.
Although the 2019 Oxford Film Festival ended in March, the OFF organization is still raising funds for monthly events, such as their “best of” tour throughout Mississippi in May and community film in June, which is available for sign-up until May 15.
“We ask people to get involved every year and learn how to crew a movie,” Addington said. “We work with people who make movies, and they mentor people who want to learn more.”
This year’s community film is “The Golden Years,” which won in the Oxford Film Festival’s Screenplay competition. It will be filmed from June 7-9.
Scriptwriter Joe Starzyk decided to partner with Oxford Film Festival after enjoying a table reading with Oxford Film Festival Ambassadors Johnny and Susan McPhail and falling in love with Oxford’s acting scene.
“Engaging with filmmakers is learning about something that is different than you,” Addington said. “It’s a cultural outreach, almost.”