For years now the Memphis area has had "blues festival" seasons, when a rash of regional music fests dot the calendar at the same time. But now we're entering relatively new territory: Welcome to film festival season.
The annual Indie Memphis Film Festival, scheduled for October 21st-27th, is currently putting the final touches on its lineup. But local movie buffs who don't want to wait can get their film-fest fix this week at the third Oxford Film Festival, which will run from Tuesday, September 6th, through Sunday, September 11th, at the Gertrude Ford Center on the campus of the University of Mississippi.
Nearly 100 films were chosen from the more than 300 that were submitted, according to festival director Elaine Abadie, and the selection ranges from local interest to international concerns. The festival opens at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday with the documentary The Rough South of Larry Brown, which won the best documentary award at the inaugural festival in 2003. Abadie says that this year's festival is being dedicated to Brown, a renowned Oxford-based writer who died last fall.
Memphis will be represented in the form of local director Chris McCoy's Automusik Can Do No Wrong, the comic mockumentary that won the Hometowner Award for best narrative feature at last year's Indie Memphis fest. McCoy is scheduled to appear at the screening, which takes place at 9 p.m. Thursday. Much to McCoy's delight, his film is screening immediately after Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation, a guerrilla filmmaking effort by three boys from the Mississippi Gulf Coast who spent seven years -- starting at age 12 -- producing the shot-by-shot remake of the Harrison Ford blockbuster. McCoy saw Raiders in February when both films were screening at the Magnolia Film Festival in Starkville, Mississippi, and raves about it.
"Raiders is great," McCoy says. "Anybody that wants to make a movie should watch this."
Other potential highlights include a slate of music documentaries, including the North Mississippi blues survey You See Me Laughin': The Last of the Hill Country Bluesmen and Gram Parsons: Fallen Angel, about the late instigator of the alt-country genre. The festival will also include panels on screenwriting, casting, producing, and documentary filmmaking. Single-day passes are $10, full-festival passes $45.
As for Indie Memphis, the festival's lineup is clicking into place thanks to an earlier submissions deadline, according to festival organizer Les Edwards. With the attention garnered for regional Southern filmmaking at this year's Sundance Film Festival, the timing couldn't be better for a big splash from a festival that dubs itself "The Soul of Southern Film."
Though the submission period has closed for the primary portions of the festival, there are still a couple of programs accepting entries: a youth showcase for area filmmakers 18 and under and a music-video showcase sponsored by LiveFromMemphis.com. The submission deadline for both of these programs is Thursday, September 15th.