Celebrating indie filmmaking with Oxford Film Festival
The annual Oxford Film Festival celebrated its 15th birthday this year with its five-day event dedicated to the art of independent film. Oxford Mississippi is home to the past haunts of William Faulkner (To Have and Have Not), Larry Brown (Joe), Barry Hannah, and John Grisham (Runaway Jury). It’s also the current home of Ace Atkins & Jack Pendarvis and is listed as one of the “100 best small arts towns in America”. Overall, the city offers a unique blend of literary and artistic appreciation within the setting of a vibrant college town, making it the perfect creative landscape to host the Oxford Film Festival.
The event unites filmmakers & filmgoers from around the world to enjoy five solid days of workshops, panels, and parties, while offering screenings of movies competing in various categories for awards. Chosen filmmakers compete for the following honors: Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Narrative Short, Documentary Short, Fest Forward (Animation and Experimental), Mississippi Shorts and Features, Mississippi Music Video, LGBTQ (short and feature), and Music Documentary.
Speaking on the 2018 event – which was held February 7 to 11 – Oxford Film Festival Executive Director, Melanie Addington, told Film Daily, “We had 204 films, a kid film fest, twelve panels or workshops including VR demos, and six parties. After that we’ll tour the state with our Best of Oxford Film Festival winners to various towns and then move into monthly screenings. We have a community movie night and our opening night film was Adam Rifkin’s The Last Movie Star (formerly known as Dog Years).” Needless to say, attendants enjoyed a busy five days.
In addition to Rifkin, recent years have included visits from Cady McClain (Venice the Series), Danny Glover (Atlanta), Robert Longstreet with The Missing Girl, and James Franco & Tim Blake Nelson with The Sound and the Fury. While discussing what makes people keep coming back to the fest, Addington noted, “We are very hospitable . . . we treat them so nicely that people just keep coming back and talking about us. And I think that helped grow the success of the festival.”
With regards to the rise in film festivals overall, Addington believes there is a hunger for seeing more diverse stories, which is one of the reasons people enjoy the Oxford Film Festival’s unique and eclectic slate. “People anywhere in this country are hungry for great stories and film festivals curate those and bring them the best.
“At a festival you get to meet people like you who just love animation, or documentary, and so on. You don’t just watch a movie alone in the dark and go home – you get to raise your hand and ask the filmmaker questions. You get to mingle at parties or in the lobby and talk with others who saw the film about your responses. We have a saying in the Film Festival Alliance, which is to find your tribe. Film festivals definitely let that happen.”