For the fourth consecutive year, the Oxford Film Festival (OFF) is featured in Movie Maker Magazine’s “50 Film Festivals Worth The Entry Fee” list. The magazine praised the festival’s programming for the recent uptick in attendance.
“Oxford Film Festival’s programming hits a pleasing blend of satisfying low-budget fare and prestige titles, a recipe for the increase in attendance in recent years.”
Oxford Film Festival is now the only federal in the state of Mississippi to be featured on the list. After screening the Oscar-nominated film “I am Not Your Negro” and hosting actors Danny Glover in 2017, the festival hopes to continue to attract new and exciting films for next year’s event.
“It’s rare to stay on there for four years, so it’s pretty awesome that we have,” said Melanie Addington, executive director of OFF. “There are thousands of festivals so to be featured in a top 50 list is amazing. I think the types of filmmakers who we want to feature are looking at lists like that to not waste their time and money, they want to go to festivals that are worth it, and we focus on the filmmakers.”
When the festival began 14 years ago, just a handful of film festivals existed throughout the state. The number of festivals has grown as audiences continue to embrace the uniqueness of films submitted.
“When we started there were only two other festivals in the state, and there wasn’t a tradition of going to your local film festival,” Addington said. “People are hungry for independent stories. I know everyone loves a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ film, but there’s more out there. There are great stories that are from diverse voices that you don’t get unless you go to a film festival.”
The Oxford community has embraced the festival, and Addington knows that they wouldn’t be in the position they are without a loyal following.
“We have great programmers, but honestly it’s because we live in a place like Oxford that allows a festival like this to thrive. We’ve got students, retirees, a lot of up and coming ’30-somethings’ with great careers,” she said. “It’s a really nice melting pot of a community. They like smart movies, and I think it really helps that people care about the arts here.”
In their 14-year history, the festival had never turned a profit until this year’s event. Addington noted that the funds have gone right back into the festival, and it will allow them to fund new programs throughout the year and help provide a jumpstart on planning next year’s festival. Some funds were used to get ads out seeking new films for 2018, an investment that is already paying dividends.
“We’ve paid for ads for ‘call for entries’ that we normally can’t. We’ve only been open for a week, and we’ve already doubled what we got in the first week last year, so I’m expecting a growth in submissions,” Addington said.
Oxford Film Festival is currently airing a 6-month long Bi-Centennial series along with the Sarah Isom Center titled “Women in Mississippi Films” ahead of Mississippi’s 200th birthday. The next film to be featured is the 1988 film “Down in the Delta” starring Alfre Wooldard. Each film is also accompanied by a panel discussion echoing the themes of the film. The panel for the May 20th event is titled “African American in Mississippi and Family Legacy.”
“The films are all fiction, but based on Southern Mississippi female experiences, so we thought it would be fun to look at that,” Addington said. “It’s all free for the community which is very important to us and having extra funds allows us to do that.”
A complete schedule of events can be seen below. All events are hosted at Locals on the Oxford Square and begin at 7 p.m.
Steven Gagliano is a writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.