The Oxford Film Festival is proud to host panel discussions on several key issues in the film industry at the 12th annual festival, February 26-March 1. The festival kicks off Thursday night with the regional premiere of The Sound and the Fury and will include an appearance for the Q&A from actor Tim Blake Nelson. Panels will be held on Friday and Saturday at the Malco Oxford Commons among film screenings, and are ticketed events.
Nelson will also be on hand during Saturday’s awards ceremony where he is being honored for his work as a writer, director and actor in theatre, television and film with an award for Achievement in Film. In addition to The Sound and the Fury, he also co-starred in James Franco’s other Faulkner adaptation, As I Lay Dying, and in the Coen Brothers’ O Brother, Where Art Thou, in which he played the character Delmar.
The panel on Friday evening will be part of the film block with The Last Time You Had Fun. Beginning at 6 p.m., Director Mo Perkins reunites with actress and Laurel, Miss. native Mary Elizabeth Ellis (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, New Girl) who has appeared in two of her feature films: A Quiet Little Marriage (OFF 2010) and The Last Time You Had Fun, screening on Friday night and Sunday afternoon. The panel is moderated by Mark Bell of Film Threat.
On Saturday, panels begin at 1 p.m. with a discussion about set production, a lengthy process from the initial idea to the final cut, with its own unique challenges. Panelists will include Hudson Hickman, former head of Sony Television and independent film producer, Lee Caplin, producer of The Sound and the Fury, Memphis film producer Adam Hohenberg, and railroad safety expert Arthur Miller. The topic of crew safety and a production’s need for legal representation are especially relevant in light of incidents such as the death of 2nd assistant camera operator Sarah Jones on the set of Midnight Rider in 2014.
Next on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. is a panel discussion on diversity on and off screen in film today. Scheduled to appear is Atlanta filmmaker Kat Phillips, Memphis filmmaker Mark Jones, film critic Eric Snider, and Nina Parikh from the Mississippi Film Office. The panel will be moderated by Aaron Hillis of the Village Voice.
The Screen Actors Guild, which collects ethnicity data on all casting roles in TV and film, reported that roles for African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans started to decline in 1998, in spite of the increasing visibility of this issue. Since then, the numbers on the screen do not reflect the reality of Americans today, despite the occasional LGBT or mixed race storylines. This panel will ask what steps emerging filmmakers can take to improve this.
The final panel on Saturday. is an in-depth discussion for potential actors on the casting process. Savannah Strachen of The People Store and Matthew Morgan of Morgan Casting will discuss the ins and outs of casting, and what actors need to know to be successful. The panel, which starts at 3:30 p.m, will be moderated by casting assistant and actor Elise Fyke.
The schedule for all films at the Oxford Film Festival is live at http://oxfordfilmfest.com/schedule-2015/ and printed programs are available throughout town two weeks before the festival.
Sponsors for the 2015 Oxford Film Festival include Donna Ruth Roberts, Blake Tartt III, Visit Oxford, Malco, Southern Documentary Project and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.