The 2018 Oxford Film Festival (February 7-11) has announced the full schedule of films for this year’s 15th Anniversary edition. On opening night, writer/director Adam Rifkin will present his latest effort, THE LAST MOVIE STAR, starring Burt Reynolds and Ariel Winter, while Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s intense drama, ALLURE, starring Evan Rachel Wood, will screen at the festival’s Centerpiece Selection and Robert Mullan’s 60s biopic MAD TO BE NORMAL, starring David Tennant Elisabeth Moss and Michael Gambon, serves as the closing night selection.
A total of 204 films (35 features, 169 shorts and music videos), including 29 world premieres and 6 U.S. premieres, were selected for OFF’s 15th Anniversary edition, marking an increase of more than 30 films from last year’s lineup. In addition, more than
60 female filmmakers directed or co-directed this year’s films, aided in part by the festival’s decision to offer a 50% discount for submissions by female filmmakers and the continuing Alice Guy Blaché Award for Emerging Female Filmmaker.
Narrative feature films in competition this year include: Dan Mirvish’s BERNARD AND HUEY, Mark Potts’s COP CHRONICLES: LOOSE CANNONS: LEGEND OF THE HAJ-MIRAGE, Billy Chase Goforth’s DOOR IN THE WOODS, Arturo Perez Torres and Aviva Armour-Ostroff’s THE DRAWER BOY; Akiyo Fujimura’s ERIKO, PRETENDED; and Catherine Eaton’s THE SOUNDING.
Documentary features in competition include: Skye Borgman’s FOREVER ‘B’; Aaron and Amanda Kopp’s LIYANA; Nick Taylor’s THE ORGANIZER; Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler, and Jeff Springer’s RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE; and Owsley Brown III’s SERENADE FOR HAITI.
The LGBTQ Juried Feature Competition will include Shaz Bennett’s festival favorite ALASKA IS A DRAG, along with Jill Salvino’s BETWEEN THE SHADES, and Itako’s BOYS FOR SALE, and highlights the Oxford Film Festival’s commitment to support our LGBTQ filmmakers and offer a more positive reaction to the passage of Mississippi’s “Religious Liberty Accommodations Act.”
“This year we’ve struck a wonderful balance between films that are thoughtful, provocative, reflect the world we live in, and address the issues of the day without blinking, with films that are just pure, fun, entertainment,” said Oxford Film Festival Executive Director Melanie Addington. “The festival continues to increase in size and scope and that growth can also be seen in the work of our local Mississippi filmmakers, whose exceptional work continues to impress. This year’s festival includes 18 films from Mississippi artists, the most to date, and they will be highlighted right next to the best films we could find from all around the world.”
Rifkin’s THE LAST MOVIE STAR (formerly titled, DOG YEARS) stars Burt Reynolds as a former box-office king, who many years later, is invited to receive an honor at a film festival that turns out to be beyond dubious. Therefore, he instead opts to go on an impromptu road trip with the sister (Ariel Winter) of one of the fest’s organizers. A bittersweet journey follows as the odd pairing visit some memorable spots – and people – from the old man’s past. The film screens Thursday, February 8 at 7:30PM at the Gertrude C. Ford Center (351 University Ave.)
Carlos and Jason Sanchez’s ALLURE stars Evan Rachel Wood as a woman struggling to re-establish her life and meet someone as she continues to recover from past abuse. However, there seems to be hope when she meets Eva, a young, talented pianist disillusioned by the life her mother imposes upon her. As Laura become increasingly obsessed with Eva, she convinces the girl to run away with her and they soon find themselves caught up in an intense relationship that can’t be sustained. The film screens Saturday, February 10 at 8:45PM at the Malco Commons (204 Commonwealth Blvd.)
Mullan’s biopic, MAD TO BE NORMAL, stars “Jessica Jones/”Dr. Who” star, David Tennant as RD Laing, a radical psychiatrist who rewrote the rules on mental health treatment. He became a 60s counterculture hero for challenging the status quo of pills and electro shock therapy, instead opting for a holistic treatment without drugs, group therapy, and communal healing. The films impressive cast also includes Elisabeth Moss, Gabriel Byrne, and Michael Gambon. The film screens Sunday, February 11 at 6:00PM at the Malco Commons (204 Commonwealth Blvd.)
Two of OFF’s special events directly address issues that concern women and are currently at the forefront of society today.
Daytime television legend (“All My Children”) Cady McClain’s documentary SEEING IS BELIEVING: WOMEN DIRECT will screen on Friday (February 9), followed by a panel featuring several attending female filmmakers as they discuss some of the myriad issues that have been in the news this past year regarding female filmmakers and women in general.
Saturday sees the Mississippi premiere of Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir’s award- winning HBO documentary, I AM EVIDENCE, produced by Law & Order: Special Victims Unit star Mariska Hargitay, about the tens of thousands of unprocessed rape kits across the country. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with the filmmakers and special guests.
“Given the recent and continuing avalanche of sexual harassment and assault revelations in almost every area of society,” Added Addington, “we felt it was important that the issues raised in these two films, as well as others in this year’s festival, be highlighted and discussed in our community.”
Previously announced was a special work-in-progress screening of Cassidy Friedman’s restorative justice documentary, CIRCLES, followed by a panel featuring Friedman and subject Eric Butler.
Providing a reminder that the Oxford Film Festival also has fun on its mind, Saturday will feature a 20th Anniversary screening of David Zucker’s cult comedy favorite BASEketball, starring South Park’s Trey Parker and Matt Stone. the screening will feature an appearance by cast member Dian Bachar and an actual BASEketball tournament in the parking lot of the Malco theater in conjunction with the screening.
Another comedy will make its world premiere at OFF, as filmmaker Mark Potts returns to the festival with his latest, COP CHRONICLES: LOOSE CANNONS: THE LEGEND OF THE HAJ-MIRAGE. The film follows two police officers, as they take on an evil mastermind, while working through some personal partnership issues. Potts’ indie comedy, SPAGHETTIMAN, was an audience favorite two years ago.
Making its bow as a fully-formed section is the 2018 Kid Fest Film Festival, which features Brian Michael Stoller’s THE AMAZING WIZARD OF PAWS, Hanneke Schutte’s MEERKAT MOONSHIP, and a special screening of Niki Caro’s classic adventure film, WHALE RIDER, marking Kid Fest’s official entry as an entire new fest just for kids after Oxford FF tested it last year in a smaller scale.
The impressive short film lineup boasts no fewer than 26 world premieres and 6 U.S. premieres, underscoring the Oxford Film Festival’s international reputation as a “discovery” film festival, featuring and promoting new filmmaking talent. The festival will also once again feature the top finishers from last year’s Louisiana Film Prize, including the winner of that celebrated film competition’s $50,000 grand prize, Travis Bible’s EXIT STRATEGY.
Previously announced were the winners of the Vodka Artist competition, the Magnifying Glass Fellowship winner, as well as the winners of Oxford FF’s first screenplay competition, who, in addition to other prizes, will receive mentorship from John Norris, film producer of such films as GET ON UP, THE HELP, and the upcoming AMERICAN PAIN.
2018 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL FILMS AND DESCRIPTIONS
OPENING NIGHT SELECTION
THE LAST MOVIE STAR
Director: Adam Rifkin
Cast: Burt Reynolds, Ariel Winter, Clark Duke, Chevy Chase Country: USA, Running Time: 94 min
An aging former movie star is forced to face the reality that his glory days are behind him. On its surface, THE LAST MOVIE STAR is a tale about faded fame, but at its core, it's a universal story about growing old.
CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION
MAD TO BE NORMAL
Director: Robert Mullan
Cast: David Tennent, Elisabeth Moss, Gabriel Byrne, Michael Gambon Country: UK, Running Time: 105 min
During the 1960s, a renegade Scottish psychiatrist courts controversy within his profession for his approach to the field, and for the unique community he creates for his patients to inhabit.
Directors: Carlos Sanchez, Jason Sanchez
Cast: Evan Rachel Wood, Julia Sarah Stone, Denis O’Hare Country: USA, Running Time: 105 min
Plagued by the abuse of her past and the turmoil of failed intimate encounters, Laura struggles to find a lover and a sense of normalcy.
SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY SCREENING
Director: David Zucker
Cast: Trey Parker, Matt Stone, Dian Bachar, Yasmine Bleeth, Jenny McCarthy Country: USA, Running Time: 103 min
Two childhood friends are pro athletes of a national sport called BASEketball, a hybrid of baseball and basketball, and must deal with a greedy businessman scheming against their team.
SPECIAL WORK-IN-PROGRESS SCREENING
CIRCLES PRESENTED BY MISSISSIPPI HUMANITIES COUNCIL
Director: Cassidy Friedman
Country: USA, Running Time: 82 min
A Hurricane Katrina survivor who works to keep black teenagers in school in Oakland, California, finds his personal and professional lives colliding when his 15-year-old son is accused of a crime he didn’t commit.
NARRATIVE FEATURES JURIED COMPETITION
BERNARD AND HUEY
Director: Dan Mirvish
Cast: Jim Rash, David Koechner, Sasha Alexander, Eva Darville , Richard Kind, Nancy Travis, Bellamy Young, Mae Whitman
Country: USA, Running Time: 94 min
Based on characters from Jules Feiffer’s Village Voice comic strip dating back to 1957, roguish Huey, and nebbishy Bernard are unlikely friends in late 1980s New York. 25 years later, and now Bernard is a successful bachelor, and Huey arrives on his doorstep looking old and washed up. As the two reconnect, Bernard starts a relationship with Huey’s estranged daughter Zelda. Huey slowly gets his mojo back and tries to seduce various women in Bernard’s life, while reconnecting with his family. At least one of them is in danger of marrying a woman old enough to be his wife.
COP CHRONICLES: LOOSE CANNONS: LEGEND OF THE HAJ-MIRAGE WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Mark Potts
Country: USA, Running Time: 83 min
Action. Suspense. Death. Love. Hot men. Etc. COP CHRONICLES: LOOSE CANNONS: THE LEGEND OF THE HAJ-MIRAGE tells the story of two wild police officers, Higgs and McGraw, and their chase to take down Samir, an evil mastermind hell bent on making the world bow down to him.
DOOR IN THE WOODS
Director: Billy Chase Goforth Country: USA, Running Time: 90 min
A young family encounters paranormal forces and face a devastating choice after they install a mysterious vintage door in their home.
THE DRAWER BOY
Directors: Arturo Perez Torres, Aviva Armour-Ostroff Country: Canada, Running Time: 98 min
Set in Ontario, 1972, the film follows Miles, a naive actor from Toronto, who turns up at a remote farm run by two men: the ruggedly practical Morgan and the simple-minded Angus. However, when the farmers let the city-boy into their home, Miles’ search for a story gradually unearths a devastating truth that threatens to destroy the tranquil lives of his hosts forever.
Director: Akiyo Fujimura
Country: Japan, Running Time: 93 min
Ten years have gone by since Eriko moved to Tokyo to pursue her dream of becoming an actress. However, things haven’t gone like she expected, and for Eriko, there was no hope in sight. She receives the news about her older sister’s sudden death. Eriko returns home to attend her sister’s funeral her relatives question Eriko’s pretend life as a successful actress. On a whim, Eriko declares that she will take care of Kazuma, her sister’s 10-year-old son, while finding out that her sister worked as a mourner-for-hire at funerals.
Director: Catherine Eaton
Country: USA, Running Time: 93 min
On a remote island off the coast of Maine, Liv, after years of silence, begins to weave a language out of Shakespeare's words. A driven neurologist, brought to the island to protect her, commits her to a psychiatric hospital. She becomes a full-blow rebel in the hospital; her increasing violence threatens to keep her locked up for life as she fights for her voice and her freedom. At a tipping point for otherness in our current climate, THE SOUNDING champions it.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURES JURIED COMPETITION
Director: Skye Borgman
Country: USA, Running Time: 91 min
FOREVER ‘B’ is a twisting, turning, stranger-than-fiction story of the Broberg’s, a naïve, church-going Idaho family whose daughter, Jan, was kidnapped by the family’s best friend and neighbor. Twice.
Director: Aaron Kopp, Amanda Kopp
Country: Swaziland, USA, Running Time: 77 min
A Swazi girl embarks on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. This animated African tale is born in the imaginations of five orphaned children in Swaziland who collaborate to tell a story of perseverance drawn from their darkest memories and brightest dreams.
Director: Nick Taylor
Country: USA, Running Time: 101 min
THE ORGANIZER is a portrait of Wade Rathke, the controversial founder of ACORN, as well as an exploration of that much maligned and misunderstood occupation – community organizing.
RODENTS OF UNUSUAL SIZE
Directors: Quinn Costello, Chris Metzler, Jeff Springer Country: USA, Running Time: 71 min
Hard headed Louisiana fisherman Thomas Gonzales doesn't know what will hit him next. After decades of hurricanes and oil spills he faces a new threat – hordes of monstrous 20-pound swamp rats. Known as “nutria”, these invasive South American rodents breed faster than the roving squads of hunters can control them.
SERENADE FOR HAITI
Director: Owsley Brown III
Country: USA, Running Time: 110 min
A classical music school in the heart of Port-au-Prince, Haiti thrives despite decades of entrenched poverty and political strife. When a catastrophic earthquake completely destroys the school in 2010, a stunned and devastated faculty and student body must pick up the pieces and find a way to move forward.
MISSISSIPPI FEATURES JURIED COMPETITION
THE LONG SHADOW
Director: Frances Causey
Country: USA, Running Time: 88 min
Two daughters of the South look beyond their white privilege to discover a history that’s been hidden, exposing the long and shockingly powerful reach of Southern politics from slavery through to today’s racial imbalance.
LOVE SOLILOQUY: A VISUAL ALBUM
Director: Astin Rocks.
Country: USA, Running Time: 31 min
Distorting the perception of true events, LOVE SOLILOQUY uses avant-garde storytelling to reveal the psyche behind young women navigating their relationships. Astin Rocks doubles as the band’s vocalist, lyricist, and film director.
MISSISSIPPI MADAM: THE LIFE OF NELLIE WORLD PREMIERE JACKSON
Director: Timothy Givens and Mark K. Brockway County: USA, Running Time: 81 min
In 1902 Nellie Jackson, an African-American woman born into poverty in Possum Corner, Miss., travels north to Natchez and opens a brothel she ran for more than 60 years with full knowledge of police and Natchez officials until a fiery end one hot July night in 1990
THE PROCESS: THE WAY OF PABLO SIERRA WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Jeff Dennis
Country: USA, Running Time: 66 min
A film about a potter named Pablo Sierra who lives in Yocona, MS. Born in Spain, he came to Ole Miss on track scholarship. He became a world-class runner, and is now a potter, baker, and horseman. For Pablo, the process is everything.
MUSIC DOCUMENTARIES JURIED COMPETITION
CASSETTE: A DOCUMENTARY MIXTAPE
Director: Zack Taylor
Country: USA, Running Time: 88 min
CASSETTE: A DOCUMENTARY MIXTAPE is, in fact, a documentary mixtape about a musical format that refuses to die. Through a series of one-on-one interviews, Lou Ottens, inventor of the cassette, confronts 50 years of mixed emotions about his creation. He is joined on his journey by Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, Ian MacKaye, Rob Sheffield, Burger Records, and many more.
DO U WANT IT?
Directors: Sam Radutzky, Josh Freund Country: USA, Running Time: 96 min
DO U WANT IT? is an exploration and celebration of the musical culture of New Orleans. The film chronicles the rise of beloved New Orleans' band Papa Grows Funk and uses their illustrious thirteen-year career, from formation up to the band's emotional final shows, as a vehicle to explore the nuances of success and struggle in the greatest musical city in the world.
HOW THEY GOT OVER
Director: Robert Clem
Country: USA, Running Time: 87 min
HOW THEY GOT OVER explores the evolution of black gospel quartet music and its contributions to the emergence of rock & roll. The film includes performances by the Blind Boys of Mississippi and Alabama, the Soul Stirrers, Dixie Hummingbirds, Davis Sisters, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Sensational Nightingales and many more.
WORD IS BOND
Director: Sacha Jenkins
Country: USA, Running Time: 85 min
Word Is Bond is a documentary film by Sacha Jenkins that examines the transformative power of lyrics in the world of hip-hop music. What was born on the streets of the South Bronx has now taken root globally, and the young poets of New York have helped to spawn regional dialects everywhere.
LGBTQ FEATURES JURIED COMPETITION
ALASKA IS A DRAG
Director: Shaz Bennett
Country: USA, Running Time: 89 min
A fish out of water story – literally. Our hero Leo is an aspiring superstar stuck working in a fish cannery in Alaska. Leo and his twin sister Tristen hang out at the one gay bar in a hundred miles, owned by their surly surrogate mom Jan (Margaret Cho). After years of getting beat up by his former best friend, Leo has learned to fight back, catching the eye of his cannery boss, an amateur boxer who offers to train him to be a fighter.
BETWEEN THE SHADES
Director: Jill Salvino
Country: USA, Running Time: 82 min
BETWEEN THE SHADES seeks to put faces to the letters that make up LGBTQI and how those letters have evolved. The film examines the immense power of labels and the transcendence of love.
BOYS FOR SALE
Country: Japan, Running Time: 76 min
Boys are selling sex in Japan. Who is buying? In the Tokyo district of Shinjuku 2-chome there are bars that specialize in “Urisen”, young boys who have sex with men.
KID FILM FESTIVAL FEATURE FILMS
THE AMAZING WIZARD OF PAWS
Director: Brian Michael Stoller Country: USA, Running Time: 96 min
What happens when you find out the family dog is actually six-hundred years old and was once owned by a great and powerful wizard? In this charming and magical adventure, young Bobby Spade and his faithful therapy dog, Ozzy, stumble upon an ancient wizard's mystical book of spells.
Director: Hanneke Schutte
Country: South Africa, Running Time: 97 min
Timid, wildly imaginative 13-year-old Gideonette de La Rey learns that the name she was given comes with it a horrible curse. After her father dies, Gideonette is paralyzed by fear and is sent to live on a farm with her grandparents where she befriends a young deaf boy who is “training” to become an astronaut and preparing to fly away in a Moonship that Gideonette’s grandfather built for him.
WHALE RIDER (2002)
Director: Niki Caro
Country: Running Time: 101 min
A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.
ADDITIONAL SPECIAL SCREENINGS
I AM EVIDENCE
Directors: Trish Adlesic, Geeta Gandbhir Country: USA, Running Time:
An investigation into the way sexual assault cases are handled by police departments across the United States and an examination of how there came to be a backlog of tens of thousands of untested rape kits.
LIVING ON SOUL
Directors: Jeff Broadway, Cory Bailey Country: USA, Running Time: 96 min
LIVING ON SOUL is a hybrid docu-concert film featuring the late Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley and the rest of the Daptone Records family. Filmed largely during Daptone’s December 2014 three-night, sold-out residency at the historic Apollo Theater in Harlem, the documentary features a mixture of live performances and verité scenes that paint a robust picture of the Daptone family and culture.
SEEING IS BELIEVING: WOMEN DIRECT
Director: Cady McClain
Country: USA, Running Time: 57 min
SEEING IS BELIEVING Is an in-depth investigation into the challenges faced by women directors. The film focuses on the journeys of four articulate filmmakers – Lesli Linka Glatter (HOMELAND), Sarah Gavron (SUFFRAGETTE), li Lu (THERE IS A NEW WORLD SOMEWHERE), and Naima Ramos Chapman (AND NOTHING HAPPENED) who provide a wonderful mix of perspectives.
Director: Tav Falco
Country: Austria, Running Time: 69 min
An American girl, Gina Lee is an alienated and disaffected female who has become disenchanted with hometown strip malls, sleaze bars, and rides along the river-side in her BMW. Impulsively she buys a discount airline ticket in a shopping mall travel agency. Destination: Vienna, the merry/sinister imperial city on the Danube. Gina Lee quickly slips into discreet, yet decadent dalliances at Cafe Central and at the notorious Hotel Orient, where she becomes embroiled in an intrigue to uncover buried Nazi plunder. Her tragic liaison with rakish Karl Heinz Von Riegl results in her submersion beneath the dark waters of Lake Atter, yet her ultimate fate remains unresolved.