At a special preview party earlier this month, the Oxford Film Festival announced initial details of next year’s 15th Anniversary edition of the festival, including a special work-in-progress screening of Cassidy Friedman’s “Circles,” the winners of OFF’s inaugural screenplay competition and Artist Vodka contest, as well as this year’s Magnifying Glass Fellowship recipient.
The festival also announced the official selections in the feature film, short film, and music video categories produced in the state of Mississippi. In addition, a Seed & Spark Fundraising campaign for $8,000 has been launched to complete the funding for the 2018 edition of the popular film festival. More information can be found at https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/oxff#story.
“In our 15th year, the Oxford Film Festival will continue to put our best foot forward when it comes to inspiring the discussion of important and timely socio-political issues and topics through our films,” said Melanie Addington, executive director of the Oxford Film Festival. “We have become a rallying point not just for artists in the state of Mississippi, but also for speaking out on the issues and on behalf of the underserved people of our state and elsewhere. ‘Circles’ is a great example of a film that provides a wonderful jumping off point for precisely that type of talk. We are also thrilled to debut our screenplay competition and partner with Artist Vodka to continue to not just inspire filmmakers, but offer significant cash rewards for their wonderful work, as well.”
Friedman’s “Circles”, tracks a Hurricane Katrina survivor who is a pioneer of the Restorative Justice movement in Oakland schools working to keep black teenagers in school. However, when his own son is wrongfully accused, he suddenly finds his personal and professional lives collide. The screening will be co-presented by the Mississippi Humanities Council, and following the screening will be a discussion with Friedman and film subject Eric Butler, in partnership with the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation.
The first winner of the Oxford FF’s inaugural screenplay competition is John Matthew Tyson’s “Twirling at Ole Miss,” and the runner up is John Bateman’s “Not Everything Was Burning.” Both scripts will have a live table read on Wednesday, February 7 at the festival, with the writer of “Twirling at Ole Miss” receiving $1,000, a flight and hotel accommodations at Oxford, and mentorship from John Norris, film producer of such films as “Get On Up,” “The Help,” and the upcoming “American Pain.”
Magnifying Glass Fellowship winner Robbie Fisher and co-director Jenni Smith will world premiere their micro-short with the working title “Dear Mr. Bryant” on Wednesday, Feb. 7. Fisher received $1,000 to assist with production costs. In the film, Mississippi religious leaders share their informed and heartfelt thoughts in telling Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant why he was wrong to fight for and sign into law the controversial and extreme piece of anti-LGBTQ legislation known simply as H.B. 1523.
Liam Hendrix Heath’s “Nation Down,” which depicts a nightmarish world ruled by a manipulative king risking his rule in a warped bid for companionship, won the Artist Vodka competition. Heath will receive a grand prize of $5,000, along with flight and hotel covered to attend the festival.
Tracy S. Facelli’s “Favorites,” about a man coping with the sudden death of his wife via the happy memories brought about by eating his favorite dessert that she had made for him prior to her death, was the runner up in the contest. Facelli received hotel accommodations to attend the Oxford FF as part of her prize package.
In order to be eligible for the competition, the films were required to be less than 25 minutes and must incorporate one of the following: Artist Vodka mentioned verbally, a character wearing an Artist Vodka t-shirt, placement of Artist Vodka bottle in foreground in a scene, or the Artist Vodka logo in the opening credits.
“The Oxford Film Festival has always had a clear and dedicated objective to promote and celebrate the work of filmmakers local to Mississippi,” Addington said. “Giving those filmmakers an opportunity to show their work and be discovered by our audiences, as well as make connections with other filmmakers leading them to future work has been one of most important aspects of this film festival for going on fifteen years now.”
Four feature films will lead the way for Mississippi-based productions chosen as official selections for the 2018 Oxford Film Festival. Those films include Jeff Dennis’ “The Process: The Way of Pablo Sierra,” about a potter, baker, and horseman who lived in Yocona, Mississippi. Born in Spain, Sierra came to Ole Miss on track scholarship, eventually becoming the man he is today.
Astin Rocks.’ “Love Soliloquy: A Visual Album” uses avant-garde storytelling to reveal the psyche behind young women navigating their relationships. Timothy Givens and Mark K. Brockway’s Mississippi Madam: The Life of Nellie Jackson” profiles an African-American woman born into poverty in Possum Corner, Mississippi, who opened a brothel in Natchez, Mississippi and ran it for more than 60 years with full knowledge of police and Natchez officials until a fiery end one hot July night in 1990. Frances Causey’s “The Long Shadow” features two daughters of the South who look beyond their white privilege to discover the troubling and hidden history of their area, exposing the long and powerful reach of Southern politics.