The Oxford Film Festival starts this week and it kicks serious ass.
And that's Oxford Mississippi, not England. I say this because until I was sent information on the festival I had never heard of it. But now I have and I'm seriously considering a trip for next year's festival (Actually I almost had a trip booked for this year but the planes didn't line up right on the flight home)
WHat has made me want to leave the New York area and travel toOxford Mississippi when place like Sundance, Cannes, SXSW or Toronto beckon? Simply put this is one of the best programmed festivals I’ve run across. The selections are first rate and while there are a few films I wasn’t thrilled with, I loved most of them and there are a couple which I’ve already put into my notes for end of year honors. Seriously they are that good---and best of all everyone I've talked with is incredibly nice and I want to hang out with them in person (That's both festival organizers and filmmakers)
To be honest I haven’t seen everything. There are too many films and I didn’t have time., however I think I’ve seen about a third of films and I would glad see the rest if there was time- but there isn't.
What should you see besides everything? Well these are my picks:
John Wildman’s glorious throwback horror film LADIES OF THE HOUSE is a must see. One of last year’s bumper crop of great horror films it’s a masterpiece that demands to be seen, especially on the big screen with a lot of people. I reviewed the film back in May of last year (the review is here) and I did massive interview with John and his partner in crime and other things Justina Walford that covered not only the film but horror and independent film production and tons more. The first part can be found here and it’s a must read.
John is also doing a panel on how to get word out on your film. That may sound like a specialized thing but knowing John for several years and having interviewed him I’d bet the farm it’s going to be interesting for anyone and everyone, with lots of stories (Ask him about all of the famous people he’s worked with and then sit back and listen)
Let me say something that almost never happens at a festival and let you know that pretty much all of the shorts are worth seeing. One big budget film aside, all of the short that are screening are worth trying and even if one is a clunker they are all playing with such good films around them you can't go wrong.
Feature film wise my top picks of what I've seen are:
DIXIE is one of the best films of 2016 for me. Its a look at the song and its influence on culture and history
DUDE BRO MASSACRE is another great film I've seen in 2016. Its a wicked send up of 1980's slasher films (and TV) that gets everything right- and is very funny and another film I will be talking about at years end- and all the months before that as well.
EMBERS is a science fiction masterpiece about an apocalypse that involves everyone the world losing their memory. This is the very definition of intelligent science fiction and a must see.
There is more but that should get you started.
The Festival starts Wednesday. Because there are so many shorts being reviewed our coverage starts at midnight. If you want more information on the festival and tickets go here.