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Oxford Film Fest Announces Special Screenings, Late Night Events

The 2020 Oxford Film Festival (March 18-22) has announced more special screening presentations and innovations adding to what was already a film festival packed with highlights and must-see screenings.

OFF’s 2020 poster design. Photo via OFF’s website.

The special screenings include coveted films from Slamdance (Lynne Sachs’ FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO) and SXSW (Kate McLean and Mario Furloni’s FREELAND), the first look on the big screen of an exciting action thriller from Netflix (Peter Berg’s SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL), a second beloved film with local ties from the Opening Night Gala’s celebrated director Allan Moyle (THE GUN IN BETTY LOU’S HANDBAG), and a secret screening with an appearance by an award-winning filmmaker.

The latest addition from Executive Director Melanie Addington is a Female Filmmaker Retreat pairing filmmakers with a filmmaking or film industry mentor that will lead up to the film festival from March 15-18. Each mentee filmmaker will be paired up with a mentor to help them navigate their next film project. Most candidates have successfully navigated the festival world before with at least one feature or several short films and are in progress on a new project.

They will spend three days together in a cabin working on creativity before the film festival kicks off. Filmmaking Mentees will include: Tiffany Albright (A GREAT EXPANSE), Suzannah Herbert (WRESTLE), Darine Hotait (LIKE SALT), Marlene McCurtis (WEDNESDAYS IN MISSISSIPPI), and Bryn Silverman (ROLL RED ROLL). Mentors include; Kimberly Browning (Executive Director, Hollywood Shorts), Shannon Cohn (ENDO WHAT?), Robbie Fisher (A MISSISSIPPI LOVE STORY), Barbara Ghammashi (Director of Filmmaker Services, Women Make Movies), and Jacqueline Olive (ALWAYS IN SEASON).

“Each year, after we initially set our schedule, exciting films will pop up and potentially be available for us to show to our Oxford Film Festival audiences. This year, we were fortunate enough to grab a few great ones,” Addington said.

“The Female Filmmaker Retreat is a very exciting addition to offer some real assistance and push to a group of women working on their next films. Project(ions) is another step forward for film as art that we think will add to the fest-going experience. And we’ll see everyone at our Secret Screening for the big reveal!”

Lynne Sachs’ documentary FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO, which was Slamdance’s Opening Night selection, is the filmmaker’s fascinatingly engrossing portrait of her father, a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah, who proved to be just as much of an enigma to his family as he was a larger-than-life personality to the public. Kate McLean and Mario Furloni’s FREELAND comes to Oxford immediately after premiering at SXSW. The film features Krisha Fairchild (KRISHA) in a tour-de-force performance as a pot farmer battling to keep her black-market business going after cannabis is legalized. Both Lynne Sachs from FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO and Krisha Fairchild from FREELAND will be attending their screenings.


Peter Berg’s SPENSER CONFIDENTIAL stars Mark Wahlberg and Winston Duke (US, BLACK PANTHER) in a taut action thriller about an ex-cop (Wahlberg) with designs to leave Boston following his release from prison. However, his old boxing coach (played by Alan Arkin) asks for his help with a brash new MMA fighter (Winston Duke) just as two of his former colleagues turn up murdered. So, an investigation needs to be made before anyone can leave town. Oxford’s own writer Ace Atkins will be on-hand to talk about the film.

Ace Atkins is the New York Times bestselling author of the Quinn Colson novels, the first two of which, The Ranger and The Lost Ones, were nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel (he also has a third Edgar nomination for his short story, “Last Fair Deal Gone Down”). In addition, he is the author of several New York Times bestselling novels in the continuation of Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. Before turning to fiction, he was a correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times, a crime reporter for the Tampa Tribune, and, in college, played defensive end for the undefeated Auburn University football team (for which he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated). He lives in Oxford, Mississippi.

PUMP UP THE VOLUME’s Allan Moyle will double and triple down on his appearance with that film on opening night with a screening of his film, THE GUN IN BETTY LOU’S HANDBAG filmed in Oxford and a special directing master class where he will deconstruct a scene from EMPIRE RECORDS for the attending Oxford Film Festival filmmakers. Prior to the screening of THE GUN IN BETTY LOU’S HANDBAG, Moyle and former film commissioner Ward Emling will give a tour of the locations in Oxford where the film was shot and discuss location scouting.

For the first time, the Oxford Film Festival will present a special Secret Screening which will include the attendance of the award-winning filmmaker and a special guest. Addington said that the provocative film takes an unflinching look at a very timely subject, but no more information beyond that can be revealed before light go up in the Malco Commons Theater on Saturday, March 21 at 5 p.m.


Other special screenings include the repeat presentation of Jacqueline Olive’s award-winning documentary ALWAYS IN SEASON, hosted by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. Olive will be on-hand to talk about the film which explores the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans through one mother’s search for justice for her child The Oxford Film Festival also presents the world premiere of ART SNOBBERY and LOSS OF CONTROL, the films resulting from Oxford FF’s Kid Film Camp held in July with Desoto Arts Institute and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council partnering with the festival. Local students worked behind and in front of the camera. These two films will screen with the feature TEAM MARCO free-to-the-public sponsored by A Smile 4 U.
Zaire Love’s MISS MAGIC was the result of last year’s Magnifying Glass Fellowship grant. It will make its world premiere with the award-winning shorts on Sunday, March 22.

Another new addition to the festival will be PROJECT(ions), which will screen selected works on a loop as part of projected installations during the festival weekend. These films will be shown as visual-only projections, with no audio, and projected onto 3D architectural surfaces rather than traditional, flat, movie screens. The presentation is curated by Polgar (Fest Forward curator) and director/producer John Rash from the Southern Documentary Project.

To buy passes or tickets or find more information, visit this website


Director: Jacqueline Olive
Country: USA, Running Time: 89 min
When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.

Director: Lynne Sachs
Country: USA, Running Time: 74 min
Over a period of 35 years between 1984 and 2019, filmmaker Lynne Sachs shot 8mm, 16mm, videotape, and digital images of her father, Ira Sachs, Sr., a bon vivant and pioneering businessman from Park City, Utah. FILM ABOUT A FATHER WHO is her attempt to understand the web that connects a child to their parent and a sister to her siblings. In the process, Sachs allows herself and the audience inside to see beyond the surface of the skin, the projected reality. As the startling facts mount, Sachs as a daughter discovers more about her father than she had ever hoped to reveal.

Directors: Kate McLean, Mario Furloni
Country: USA, Running Time: 78 min
Devi has been breeding legendary pot strains for decades on the remote homestead she built herself. But when cannabis is legalized, she suddenly finds herself fighting for her survival. In a tour-de-force performance, Krisha Fairchild (Devi) brings the timely story of a black-market grower battling to keep her farm to the screen. Featuring a heart-breaking turn by John Craven as an old flame from Devi’s commune days, and Frank Mosley and Lily Gladstone as adrift harvest workers, the film is full of standout performances.

Director: Allan Moyle
Country: USA, Running Time: 89 min
An ignored, small-town librarian confesses to a murder she didn’t commit to get attention.

Director: Peter Berg
Country: USA, Running Time: 110 min
Spenser (Mark Wahlberg) — an ex-cop better known for making trouble than solving it — just got out of prison and is leaving Boston for good. But first he gets roped into helping his old boxing coach and mentor, Henry (Alan Arkin), with a promising amateur. That’s Hawk (Winston Duke), a brash, no-nonsense MMA fighter convinced he’ll be a tougher opponent than Spenser ever was. When two of Spenser’s former colleagues turn up murdered, he recruits Hawk and his foul-mouthed ex-girlfriend, Cissy (Iliza Shlesinger), to help him investigate and bring the culprits to justice.

Kid Camp Films
ART SNOBBERY World Premiere
Director: Robb Rokk
Country: USA, Running Time: 6:09 min
A world famous artist has painted himself into a corner.

Director: Robb Rokk
Country: USA, Running Time: 4:30 min
An intense Interrogation does not end as an accuser would hope.

Magnifying Glass Film
MISS MAGIC World Premiere
Director: Zaire Love
Country: USA, Running Time: 4:46 min
Miss Magic follows Tyler, a non-binary person of color, who identifies as gay in the thick of Mississippi’s dust. Through creative montages, interviews, and observational footage, audiences are taken on a journey to witness the story of Tyler’s becoming.

PROJECT(ion) at Oxford Film Festival
Director: Richard H. Alpert
Countries: USA/Spain, Running Time: 9:21 min
This film is a mirrored triptych, that is the screen has been divided into three vertical panels and then “flipped” horizontally. Hurtling through time and space aboard a bullet train in Spain, we observe a changing, dynamic landscape. The flow of time and space are intensified as these images morph from a representational interpretation of the landscape to a contemporary abstract interpretation.

Director: Heehyun Choi
Country: USA, Running Time: 2:48 min
A mass of space continuously emerges between the squared gazes. The gazes around a camera, each pointing at different directions, instantly create worlds of various dimensions. This video attempts to twist the linear connection between those worlds.

Director: Jeremy Moss
Country: USA, Running Time: 13:16 min
The earth spins while bodies and cameras wind and rotate on its surface. Sand particles infest recording devices scratching unravelling celluloid. The camera and its operator transform from seers to ecstatic performers.

Director: Raquel Salvatella de Prada
Country: USA, Running Time: 8:21 min
Part sculpture, part light installation and video animation, CORNERED is an immersive visual experience that represents the motivation and struggles of migrants making an attempt to cross the border from Morocco to the Spanish cities of Melilla and Ceuta situated on Africa’s mainland.

Director: John Alston
Country: USA, Running Time: 3:20 min
A juxtaposition of horror and beauty, using a classic animation method.

Director: Nataša Prosenc Stearns
Countries: USA/Slovenia, Running Time: 7:03 min
Inspired by “Fragments of Lover’s Discourse” by French philosopher Roland Barthes, the film plows into elusive substance of fantasies and dreams of lovers. DEAMSCAPE #1 – LOVERS is a moving collage, which integrates human body with organic world. The process of layering connects visual elements and leads to fragments of narration. The film explores the themes of connectedness, oneness and identity.

Directors: Laura Ivins, Benjamin J. Penwell
Country: USA, Running Time: 5:25 min
Exploring the musical concept of “overtones,” this film is a playful, feminist study in the plurality of visual and auditory meanings of the term.

Director: Sheridan Tamayo-Henderson
Country: Canada, Running Time: 2:52 min
A playful investigation of the paradoxes of motion and anxieties inherent in contemplating the commuter life.

Director: Gloria Chung
Country: USA, Running Time: 7:30
Video clips taken during trips have been reimagined into a science fiction narrative, pondering utopias/dystopias, climate change, and “Star Trek” planetary locations.

Director: Heehyun Choi
Country: USA, Running Time: 5:51 min
While repeatedly folding a piece of paper, you will be introduced to somewhere you’ve never expected. What is an image? What is a reality? What is a film?


Allan Moyle Master Class on Directing
Thursday, March 19
Location: Malco Commons
Moyle deconstructs a scene from EMPIRE RECORDS to filmmaker passholders.

League of Women Voters Presents: Win, Lose or Draw Straws and Panel
Thursday, March 19
2 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Overby Center
Join the filmmakers of Forever Voters and a family and friends special private screening of WIN LOSE OR DRAW STRAWS as well as panelists Linda Bishop of League of Women Voters, University of Mississippi Journalism Professors Charlie Mitchell and Curtis Wilkie and student Kynnedi Taylor-Henry as they discuss voting rights, history and current elections. Sponsored by the Mississippi Humanities Council.

Thacker Mountain Radio Hour
Thursday, March 19
6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts
The Thacker Mountain Radio Hour is a weekly live radio show featuring author readings and a wide array of musical performances from the square in Oxford, Mississippi. The live show is broadcast on 92.1 FM Rebel Radio, Thursdays at 6 p.m. and rebroadcast Saturdays at 7 p.m. on Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Saturdays at 9 p.m. on Alabama Public Radio. Admission is free.

Mississippi Film Alliance Presents: The Big Picture: Producing from Script to Screen
Friday, March 20
10 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. 
Location: Malco Screen 4
Sandy Stern is an American film producer, best known for his work on the films PUMP UP THE VOLUME, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, and SAVED! Join Stern and other guests as they discuss the nature of producing a feature film.

Mississippi Film Alliance Presents: The Art of Place: Creating the On-screen world
Friday, March 20
11:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. 
Location: Malco Screen 4

Focus on the art and craft of Set Decoration and take a look at the way Set Decorators work to define character and place to help tell the story using surroundings. Includes Collaboration, Research, Design and Dressing a Set.
Panelists: Julie Kaye Fanton and Mary Goodson

Oxfilm Society Presents Festival Strategy
Friday, March 20
1 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. 
Location: Malco Screen 4
Ever wonder how the brain of programmers work? Want to know the tips and tricks to having a successful festival run? Ever wonder why your film was cut from festivals after you put it online? Want to meet the people who decide the curation of your film face to face? Then this is the panel for you.
Moderated by Don Lewis
Panelists include:
Kimberley Browning (Executive Director, Hollywood Shorts)
Donna Kosloskie (Documentary Programmer, Oxford Film Festival)
Katie McCullough and Ian Bignell (Festival Formula)
Rachel Morgan (Festival Programmer, Sidewalk Film Festival)
Brian Murnion (Executive Director, Montana International Film Festival)
Brighid Wheeler (Shorts Programmer, Indie Memphis)

University of Mississippi Department of Theatre & Film & Sag-Aftra Presents The Naked Truth: Getting to the Heart of Performance
Saturday, March 21
12 p.m. -1:15 p.m. 
Location: Malco Screen 4
Great visuals. Compelling story. Interesting Visual effects. Although each of these are important in the creation of a great film, the one thing that stands above them all is the actor in the frame. This lecture briefly investigates the director/actor relationship and give useful tips on how directors can elicit the most compelling performances out of their actors. By exploring various directing techniques, including script analysis, rehearsal strategies, and beat-by-beat breakdowns, each director will walk away with a deeper knowledge of what it means to connect with an actor and unlock their creative intuition. Dan Stearns and Sarah Hennigan will moderate with guest: Ya’Ke Smith

Meet the Film Festivals
Saturday, March 21
2 p.m. – 4 p.m. 
Come hang out in the Hampton Inn Conference Center Media Lounge from 2-4 pm and connect with film festival and industry insiders! Bonus: snacks!
Fill out this form to be included: https://forms.gle/2UTUDBzNfxG1Xxe57

Conversation with Angie Thomas
Saturday, March 21
7:45 p.m. – 9 p.m. 
Location: Malco Screen 1
Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her award-winning, acclaimed debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman, Jr. Her second novel, On the Come Up, is on sale now.

Misbits Presents: Media Installation as a Platform for Storytelling
Sunday, March 22
11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. 
Location: Malco Screen 4
Media installations, especially when displayed in public spaces, are an effective way of communicating with audiences. This panel will include artists and filmmakers who utilize media installations in order to engage with their viewers. Topics such as methods, practices, and the importance of being able to communicate in this format will be discussed.
Moderator: Valerie Guinn Polgar
Panelists: Tara Youngborg, Rebekah Flake, Andrea Morales, Ashley Gerst, and John Rash.

The Oxford Film Festival was founded in 2003 to bring exciting, new, and unusual films (and the people who create them) to North Mississippi. The annual five-day festival screens short and feature-length films in both showcase and competition settings. The festival is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. For more information, visit www.oxfordfilmfest.com.

Press release courtesy of Oxford Film Festival 

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