Indie Memphis Film Festival Announces First Twelve Films For 2016 Festival

THE BLOOD OF JESUS 1941 poster



The Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc, (November 1-7) has announced the first 12 films out of an expected 160 films to be featured at the 19th edition of the annual festival this year. Prichard Smith’s documentary  THE INVADERS, executive produced by Craig Brewer, will open the festival, while Stephen John Ross’s documentary KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE about Memphis’s famous opera soprano, will send Indie Memphis out on a song as the closing night selection.

Featuring critically acclaimed director Ira Sach’s latest film, LITTLE MEN, along with a special 20-year anniversary screening of his debut feature, THE DELTA, Jake Mahaffy’s Memphis-produced award-winner, FREE IN DEED, another special 20-year anniversary screening – of Miloš Forman’s classic (and Memphis-produced) THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT, and key selections from Kino Lorber’s “Pioneers of African American Cinema” collection, the first selections out of the gate honor the rich history of local film production, black film history, and attention-getting films coming to Memphis for the first time.

Venues span from primary sites in Midtown and Downtown Memphis to new satellite venues in East Memphis and Collierville. With the support of Marquee Sponsors, Amazon Studios, AurtoZone, and Malco Theatres, Indie Memphis will once again present its unique and diverse slate of programming throughout the weeklong format that was successful last year, contributing to the largest film attendance in the history of the festival.

“The lineup and expanded venues are reflected in this year’s festival message, Film for All.” said Executive Director, Ryan Watt. “We want everyone in Memphis to feel invested in the success of the festival. Different moviegoers will gravitate to specific films and events throughout the 7-day program, there are more options than ever before.”

Prichard Smith uncovers the history and significance of the often-overlooked group which radicalized generations of civil rights activists, in his documentary THE INVADERS, detailing their surprising behind- the-scenes involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pivotal days leading up to his assassination. This special event features the original members of The Invaders and Executive Producer Craig Brewer in-person for two festival screenings of a film which could not be more timely considering current events in the country. Stephen John Ross’s KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE will close out the film festival in style. The title translated as “I Lived for Art” details the famed Memphis opera singer’s struggles and comeback. In a special treat for the Indie Memphis audience, Kallen will perform with Gary Beard following the screening of the film.

Two films each by two singular film artists will be presented this year, as Indie Memphis shines a light on the work of both Memphis-raised director, Ira Sachs, as well as the legendary Miloš Forman. Sachs will be on hand to discuss both his latest, LITTLE MEN, about a new pair of best friends have their bond tested by their parents' battle over a dress shop lease, as well as a 20th Anniversary screening of his first feature film, THE DELTA, about a 17-year old boy leading a secret life, as he is coming of age, in which he's drawn to men he doesn't know. Two of Forman’s beloved works will be presented by co-writer Larry Karazewski (recently nominated for an Emmy as co-writer/producer of “The People Vs. OJ Simpson”), including a 20th Anniversary screening of THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT. The partially idealized film of the controversial pornography publisher and how he became a defender of free speech for all people, will be screened from a 35mm print, with a conversation to follow about the Memphis-based production. Karazewski will be joined by Memphis wrestling legend Jerry Lawler for a screening of MAN ON THE MOON, about the life and career of the notorious comic genius, Andy Kaufman.

The initial announced selections also include two films that have gained great notice on the film festival circuit. Jake Mahaffy’s award-winning Memphis-production of FREE IN DEED. The film depicts one man's attempts to perform a miracle for a young mother and her son battling a seemingly incurable illness. The film was the winner of “Horizons: Best Film” at the Venice Film Festival. Anna Billar’s stylish THE LOVE WITCH, about a modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas, has also been the recipient of much critical acclaim at previous stops on the film festival map.

Finally, the Indie Memphis Film Festival and Kino Lorber have teamed for a very special presentation of four films from Kino Lorber’s “Pioneers of African American Cinema” collection. The films, culled from this collection of historically vital works of America's legendary first African-American filmmakers and film artists, including Oscar Micheaux, Paul Robeson, Spencer Williams , and James Gist, will be featured at the Hattiloo Theater “Black Box” (37 Cooper Street). Films include THE BLOOD OF JESUS, BODY & SOUL, HELLBOUND TRAIN, and SYMBOL OF THE UNCONQUERED.

The full lineup and schedule of the films, live music, panels and parties will be announced on September 26th at the “Preview Party” at Rec Room (3000 Broad Avenue). Passes are now for sale and additional information on the film festival can be found at


The first twelve official selections include:


THE DELTA (1996)

Director: Ira Sachs

Country: USA, Running Time: 85min

THE DELTA follows Lincoln, a 17-year old boy leads a straight life most of the time: he has a girlfriend, goes to dances, jokes with guys. But he also has a secret life, in which he's drawn to men he doesn't know. One night, while visiting a gay video arcade, he connects with John, a Vietnamese-born gay man, in his 20s probably, whose father was an African-American US soldier. John invites Lincoln to spend some carefree time with him, which leads the two to take Lincoln’s father’s boat into the Mississippi delta, where setting off some fireworks out of season precipitates betrayal and revenge.



Director: Jake Mahaffy

Country: USA, Running Time 100min

Set in the distinctive world of storefront churches, and based on actual events, FREE IN DEED depicts one man's attempts to perform a miracle for a young mother and her son battling a seemingly incurable illness. However, for the lonely Pentecostal minister confronting his own demons as well, it seems the more he prays, the more things seem to spiral out of his control.



Director: Prichard Smith

Country: USA, Running Time: 76min

Executive produced by Craig Brewer, THE INVADERS is a documentary which uncovers the history and significance of the often overlooked group of civil rights activists. Inspired by militant black leaders like Malcolm X and Stokely Carmichael, a new, radicalized generation made up of young college students, Vietnam vets, musicians, and intellectuals emerged in Memphis in 1967. The Invaders espoused Black Power and, when pushed, did  not  limit  themselves  to  non-violence.  Prichard  Smith  uncovers  the  history and significance of the often- overlooked group, detailing their surprising behind- the-scenes involvement with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the pivotal days leading up to his assassination.



Director: Steven John Ross Country: USA, Running Time: 64min

KALLEN ESPERIAN: VISSI D’ARTE profiles the famed Memphis soprano, chronicling her struggles and successes as she worked to reignite her career following a dark and difficult period in her life and career. Overcoming a divorce, depression, extreme weight fluctuations, physical injury and even, brain surgery were among the challenges that stood before Esperian as she made her way back.



Director: Ira Sachs

Country: USA, Running Time: 85min

LITTLE MEN explores the deepening friendship between two artistic boys whose families enter into a heated and escalating battle over the rent of their shared brownstone in a quickly gentrifying Brooklyn. Jake (Theo Taplitz) is the son of Brian (Greg Kinnear) and Kathy (Jennifer Ehle), who move into the upstairs of a brownstone they inherit; Tony (Michael Barbieri) is the son of immigrant seamstress Leonor (Paulina García), who's been renting the store on the ground floor for several years. When a battle over rent sharpens, the boys—rather than splitting along lines of family loyalty—give the adults the silent treatment and continue to forge their own bond.



Director: Anna Billar

Country: USA, Running Time: 120min

A modern-day witch uses spells and magic to get men to fall in love with her, in a tribute to 1960s pulp novels and Technicolor melodramas. Elaine, a beautiful young witch, is determined to find a man to love her. In her gothic Victorian apartment, she makes spells and potions, and then picks up men and seduces them. However, her spells work too well, and she ends up with a string of hapless victims. When she finally meets the man of her dreams, her desperation to be loved drives her to the brink of insanity and murder.



Director: Miloš Forman

Country: USA, Running Time:119min

Jim Carrey stars as the late Andy Kaufman, who was considered one of the most innovative, eccentric and enigmatic performers of his time. A master at manipulating audiences, Kaufman could generate belly laughs, stony silence, tears or brawls. Whether inviting the audience out for milk and cookies or challenging women to inter-gender wrestling matches, he specialized in creating performances so real that even his close friends were never sure where the truth lay.



Director: Miloš Forman

Country: USA, Running Time: 129min

Pursued by opponents who say his "Hustler" magazine breaks decency laws, pornographer Larry Flynt (Woody Harrelson) hires lawyer Alan Isaacman (Edward Norton) to help fight his legal battles. A zealot shoots the men near a Georgia courthouse, and though Flynt discovers he'll never walk again, his fighting spirit — like his love for stripper Althea Leasure (Courtney Love) — stays strong. Ultimately, the unlikely free speech warrior takes his biggest case to a showdown at the Supreme Court.


Pioneers of African American Cinema



Director: Spencer Williams

Country: USA, Running Time: 58min

Small-town residents pray for a miracle after a newly baptized woman is accidentally shot by her sinful husband.


BODY & SOUL (1925)

Director: Oscar Micheaux

Country: USA, Running Time: 102min

Directed by the legendary African American filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, BODY & SOUL is a direct critique of the power of the cloth, casting Robeson in dual roles as a jackleg preacher and a well-meaning inventor.



Director: James Gist

Country: USA, Running Time: 60min

HELLBOUND TRAIN comprises a series of vignettes of “sinful” acts, any of which could book you a spot on that locomotive to perdition: Women deceiving their husbands; gamblers and tipplers; crooked men conducting illicit business; and insolent children disrespecting their parents make up the passenger list. At the end of each scene a character dies, and a round man in a form-fitting devil suit hops off a train and does a little jig as he accepts a new passenger.



Director: Oscar Micheaux

Country: USA, Running Time: 54min

In this silent film, Eve Mason (Iris Hall) learns of her grandfather's death, leaves her small Southern town and travels west to inspect her newly-inherited land. With help from her neighbor, Hugh Van Allen (Walker Thompson), she arrives at her grandfather's homestead. When the self-loathing Jefferson Driscoll (Lawrence Chenault) learns that Van Allen's property sits atop a vast oil reserve, he teams up with a group of unsavory criminals to threaten Mason and force Van Allen off his land.


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