In two weeks, North Mississippi will play host to dozens of independent, interesting and unusual films — and those who create them. But the Oxford Film Festival is more than just an opportunity to watch eclectic movies and mingle with filmmakers.
“We celebrate the film and the filmmaker with good parties, food and adult beverages, bands and karaoke, and fun times at night,” says Melanie Addington. “During the day, it is all business with filled theaters of avid moviegoers wanting to experience new, interesting cinema. We fill the seats during the day and fill your plates by night. In the many festivals I have attended as a filmmaker myself, what we are doing is unique.”
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the festival has grown tremendously in terms of both programming quality and attendees, Melanie says.
“As we continue to grow in reputation in the South and in the film circuit, we are getting much stronger programming choices and having to turn down things we enjoy, because there are too many good options,” she says. “We call it our ‘good problem to have.’”
Many Southern filmmakers continue to make the cut at Oxford, including Alabama’s Andrew Grace, whose documentary, Eating Alabama, follows a couple’s attempts to eat locally and seasonally and “becomes a meditation on community, the South and sustainability.”
Tennessean C. Scott McCoy’s documentary, Antenna, traces the history of Memphis’ first punk rock club. Antenna, which opened in 1981, was the first place many in the area saw a music video and hosted local and then-upstart bands REM, Black Flag, The Minutemen, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and Green Day over its 15-year run. Scott says he feared the club’s story was at risk of being lost.
“It’s a local story about this one club, but it’s also a universal story about how music scenes evolve. It’s a movie for people who love music,” Scott says. “At the time, there was no place for bands and musicians who played original music to play. It gave all the freaks for 500 miles around a place to gather and a place to call home. It pretty much set the standard for Memphis rock ‘n’ roll from there on out. There are a lot of people in North Mississippi who would have gone up there. Because for years, it was the only place in the region you could go for this kind of music.”
The Oxford Film Festival, February 21-24, also features experimental and animated films, as well as narrative features and shorts.