Oscar Nominated Film “I Am Not Your Negro” Highlights Oxford Film Festival Lineup

The lineup for the 2017 Oxford Film Festival was announced in late 2016. The lineup features 151 films, made up of 34 feature films, 117 short films, music videos, new media and virtual reality projects.

The 14th annual Film Festival will officially begin at the Lyric on Wednesday, Feb. 15 and end on Sunday, Feb. 19.

Twenty-four world premieres and five U.S premieres will take place at the film festival along with 35 regional premieres. The festival has received an increase in film submissions for the third consecutive year. Panels with actors, directors and other artists will give audiences a chance to interact with the people involved in the filmmaking process at every level, an opportunity that executive director of the Oxford Film Festival, Melanie Addington, is excited to bring to film fest goers.

“I personally always look forward to having filmmakers from all over the world come to Oxford, some for the first time, some who return year after year because they love the festival,” Addington said. “Then getting to see our locals interact with them at screenings and ask great questions after the film really makes me happy. It lets the art side of filmmaking emerge with filmmakers interacting directly with their audiences. I am happy to play a small role in that.”

The film festival has something for everyone, offering a wide variety of films. But, Addington noticed a reoccurring theme as the lineup for the film festival began to take shape.

“Across several of our categories, we have seen a theme emerge of strong females and minorities and people with disabilities that break stereotypes as well as have moving and powerful stories, plus people fighting for civil rights and justice; and that is coming from filmmakers not just in the U.S. but international,” Addington said. “There are some pretty incredible stories told this year. Of course, we also have some fun late night horror and some comedy. It is not all serious!”

While she is excited about each film that will be screened, Addington is looking at one film that may become the talk of the town not only locally but nationally as well. James Baldwin’s “I Am Not Your Negro” directed by Raoul Peck has been nominated for an Oscar for its telling of Baldwin’s attempt at writing a book about his friendship with the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement, including MLK and Malcolm X. 

“We are happy to host the Mississippi premiere screening of Oscar-nominated ‘I Am Not Your Negro’ at this year’s festival. It has been the focus of our new board and programming team to bring top-notch programming to Oxford, and films such as this are a perfect fit for our audience.” Addington said. “Being the director of a Film Festival in Mississippi, I’ve seen a lot Civil Rights films but this is beyond anything I’ve ever seen.” 

This is Addington’s first full year as the executive director, and she has taken a look back on the film festival’s past to create an atmosphere that the audience will enjoy.

“I have learned tremendous amounts about what works, how to better improve our line up, etc. Many of our volunteer staff have been involved for years and always think of ways to make the experience as smooth as possible with streamlining ticket sales, increasing screens for more viewing opportunities and providing more free opportunities for the community so that everyone feels welcome to take part,” Addington said. “We kept what works about the festival, which is showcasing the generosity and hospitality and charm of Oxford and its residents and continue to improve our panels, workshops and special events, as well as top-notch programming.”

The Film Festival has become another annual tradition in the historic city of Oxford, and Addington makes the case that this isn’t an event that you want to miss. 

“I think this is a great way to meet people in the community, but also really enjoy a fun event. It’s for all price ranges as well, you can enjoy the free screenings we’ll have, or if you want to spend the extra money, a VIP pass is a great way to meet celebrities and get into a lot of parties,” Addington said. “I can’t imagine being in Oxford, even if it’s just this weekend, and missing this event.”

Tickets can be purchased for individual films for $12 until Feb. 14 as a part of early bird pricing. VIP passes, which give access to all films, parties and the green rooms for the entirety of the festival, can be purchased for $150. A weekend pass can be purchased for $60 but does not include entrance to certain films. A one-day pass for entrance to all films can be purchased for $25. The 2017 Film Festival will begin on Feb. 15 and end on the Feb. 19.

Free screenings will be held at The Oxford Public Library. Other locations will include the Malco Theater, The Oxford Conference Center, Newks on University Ave., The Lyric, The Powerhouse and The Ford Center on the Ole Miss Campus. A special presentation will also take place on the Feb. 14 at the University Museum for the current “William Eggleston and the Real World” exhibit. The Oxford Film Festival is one of the most highly-anticipated weekends of the year in Oxford, so don’t miss out on your chance to be a part of it. 

Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at steven.gagliano@hottytoddy.com.

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