The Oxford Film Festival began Wednesday night with a special Community Film Night block, which was anchored by a screening of the annual Community Film. A sold-out crowd braved the cold elements to jam-pack the Oxford Film Festival’s first film screenings at the YAC Powerhouse.
Each year, the Oxford Film Festival produces a film of its own, utilizing crew and cast made up of Oxonian talent. The tradition began with 2011’s “The Hanging of Big Todd Wade,” and is intended to help grow, develop, inspire Mississippi filmmakers and allow the budding auteurs to get some real-world experience under their belt. In addition, the Community Film project helps movie fans that volunteer to understand what all goes into a film production.
This year’s film, written and directed by Melanie Addington was a dystopian near-future film titled “#fifteen”. In the world of “#fifteen,” everyone is famous to some degree, and the plot focuses on a young girl (played by Rachel Adkins) who experiments what it’s like to be anonymous and ordinary.
“I was researching to figure out what this year’s Community Film would be about and stumbled on Andy Warhol’s famous quote ‘In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,’ and then the Banksy update quote, ‘In the future, everyone will be anonymous for fifteen minutes,’” Addington said. “I said, ‘That’s it! That’s the whole film right there.’ I am usually a producer on the community film, and it was truly a different experience to be the director and hear people respond for the first time. The jokes you wrote you hope will hit, and I was very lucky that they did last night.”
The programming block opened with a live reading of the winning script of an earlier ScreenPlay Contest. “Twirling at Ole Miss” was written by John M. Tyson and performed by actors from Theatre Oxford.
Other highlights included Christina Huff’s documentary, “Thacker Mountain Radio Hour: 20th Anniversary,” in which longtime fans and participants of the storied radio show pay tribute to Oxford’s original treasure. And “The Pizza Magazine” which tells the story of another of Oxford’s two-decades-old institutions, PMQ Pizza Magazine. [Full disclosure: D.L. Perea made this film.]
A powerful appeal to Mississippi’s governor over controversial legislation is known simply as H.B. 1523 was made in “Dear Mr. Bryant,” directed by Robbie Fisher.
Sam Cox’s “Closed” and Tony King’s “DayFall” rounded out the block with narrative and animated delights.
“I’m proud to have made [DayFall] and to be able to see where I am compared to other people and get feedback and inspiration from them,” King said. “It’s an honor to be involved with the festival.”
A sequel called “Fifteen” (not to be confused with “#fifteen”) to an earlier Joe York-made Community Film, titled “Ten,” delighted the packed house. “Fifteen” follows an update of the 10-year-old interview subjects from the first film, who now find themselves in the throes of adolescence at age fifteen. Notably, the sequel itself was actually made by 15-year-old Julia Mitchell, one of the original film’s subjects, who took it upon herself to round up all the participants and bring them back for a second installment.
“The community film block has grown to be one of the most popular events as we celebrate local filmmakers and the unique stories of Oxford,” Addington said. “Last night’s event had highlights of unique events, businesses and people and examples of animation, experimental, narrative and documentary. What an amazing talent pool we have in our town!”
For those who missed out on Community Film Night, couldn’t get a ticket or just want to see it again, the entire block will have a second screening on Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Malco Oxford Commons.
The Oxford Film Festival runs Feb. 7-11. For more details and a complete listing of these and many other projects, visit www.oxfordfilmfest.com.
By Daniel Perea
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