Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Oxford Film Festival 2022 announces lineup of films, special events, and an honoree for March fest

 The 2022 Oxford Film Festival announces film lineup for 19th edition  (March 23-27, March 27-April 3)
Hugo Sobelman’s SOUL KIDS is the Opening Night selection, and Max Walker-Silverman’s A LOVE STORY takes the Closing Night slot.
Dale Dickey will be honored with the Breakthrough Acting Award
World premieres include Tara Thorne’s COMPULSUS, and Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi’s ROOTS OF FIRE
Oxford, MS (February 22, 2022) – The 2022 Oxford Film Festival (In-Person on March 23-27, Virtual on March 27-April 3)) announced the lineup of official selections for the 19th annual edition of the popular film festival which will bring back a hybrid presentation including screenings, parties, and special events. Hugo Sobelman’s Memphis-based documentary Soul Kids is the Opening Night selection, and Max Walker-Silverman’s Sundance and Berlin favorite A Love Song, featuring Oxford FF’s Breakthrough Acting Award honoree Dale Dickey, is the Closing Night Selection. 
The dynamic schedule will showcase 118 films, representing 18 countries, including 38 features (16 narrative and 22 documentary), 67 short films (narrative, documentary, LGBTQIA+, ambition and experimental, student, and Mississippi-based productions), and 13 music videos. Special events include a Secret Screening of a work-in-progress film, and a tribute to the late Bill Luckett, a beloved Mississippi film industry stalwart and a familiar presence at the Oxford Film Festival. 
On March 23-27, all screenings will be held at Malco Oxford Commons Cinema (206 Commonwealth Blvd.). From March 27-April 3, Virtual Cinema screenings will be offered via Eventive. 
Interim Executive Director Jim Brunzell, said, “We are excited to present this year’s films and special events to our local film fans here in Oxford, the state of Mississippi, and nearby in Memphis, as well. We have diligently built a program that include discovery titles, award winners, festival favorites from Venice, Toronto, Sundance, Berlin and SXSW film festivals, enlightening, innovative, and entertaining features and shorts that should inspire everyone to immerse themselves in the Oxford Film Festival world once again.” 
Opening the Oxford Film Festival will be Hugo Sobelman’s documentary Soul Kids. The film focuses on Memphis’ Stax Music Academy For two decades, the academy has continued the legacy of the legendary Stax Records, a soul label which was a refuge during the Civil Rights movement in the 60s. By learning and understanding soul music in after-school programs, the next generation of teenagers build a solid foundation on Black Americans’ legacy and create hope for their future. Closing the film festival will be Max Walker-Silverman’s romantic drama, A Love Song. The film stars Native American film legend Wes Studi and Oxford FF’s Breakthrough Acting Award honoree Dale Dickey as a couple, childhood sweethearts several years ago, who are now both widowed. They meet up at a campsite and reconnect, sharing stories, memories, and emotions during a night by a lake in the mountains.
One of Hollywood’s most coveted character actors, Dale Dickey forged a reputation for illuminating gritty, dark, and oftentimes damaged characters. Following inspired performances onstage, including the Broadway production of "The Merchant of Venice" (1989) and the 2009 stage adaptation of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Dickey has put together an enviable list of performances together in films like Sordid Lives (2000), Winter’s Bone (2010), Super 8 (2011), Iron Man 3 (2013), Hell or High Water (2016), and Palm Springs (2020), and on countless television shows like The X-Files, True Blood, Breaking Bad, and My Name is Earl. Her role in A Love Song is a well-deserved lead in a feature that has been critically acclaimed since its debut at Sundance earlier this year.
Additional highlights among the narrative features include; Dan Mirvash’s festival favorite 18½ is a crazy ride involving a White House transcriber trying to overcome hippies, swingers, and nefarious forces in order to leak the 18½-minute gap in Nixon's Watergate tapes; Iman Zawahry’s charming comedy Americanish set in Queens, where career-driven sisters Maryam and Sam and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera must navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family; and the world premiere of Tara Thorne’s Canadian thriller Compulsus, about a woman whose taste for violent revenge might 
become short-circuited when she falls for a woman who abides by the law. Anna Baumgarten’s Disfluency won Best Film at the Austin Film Festival. The film follows a promising language student who returns home without graduating due to a devastatingly emotional trauma that derailed her senior year. Jean Luc Herbulot’s horror-thrillerSaloum follows three mercenaries who run into deadly threats they never imagined while attempting to extract a drug lord out of a mysterious region in Senegal. Carl Andress and Charles Busch’s The Sixth Reel stars the latteras a down-on-his-luck movie collector whose discovery of a legendary lost film sends him hurtling into an outrageous adventure. The film also stars Margaret Cho and Tim Daly.
Among the documentary selections are; Lisa Hurwitz’s The Automat, which premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival, tells the 100-year story of the iconic restaurant chain Horn & Hardart, the inspiration for Starbucks, where generations of Americans ate and drank coffee together at communal tables - from the perspective of former customers like Mel Brooks, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Secretary of State Colin Powell; T.J. Parsell’s Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music explores the unsung story of the queer women behind some of country music’s greatest hits; and Alysa Nahmias’ Krimes from MTV Documentary Films, about artist Jesse Krimes, who secretly created monumental works of art—including an astonishing 40-foot mural made with prison bed sheets, hair gel, and newspaper, then smuggled out each panel piece-by-piece with the help of fellow artists. Clay Haskell and Dylan Nelson’s Mississippi Messiah looks at the surprising life and accomplishments of Civil Rights legend James Meredith, and Abby Berendt Lavoi and Jeremey Lavoi’s Roots of Fire will make its world premiere at the Oxford Film Festival, looking at five award-winning musicians as they push against stereotypes of the American South and move the music of their ancestors forward. 
Highlights among the creatively themed and musically-infused parties and special events include; a “Pop Up Partnership” with Thacker Mountain Radio featuring Michael Farris Smith, as well as an “Opening Night Stax Records Party” following the Soul Kids screening on Thursday, March 24 at The Atrium at Mike Overstreet Properties (265 North Lamar Ave.) with a Live Performance from 926, Stax Music Academy Alumni Band; and a “Roaring 20's Celebration” on Friday, March 25 at the same location, featuring a live performance from The Skid Rouges. On Saturday, March 26, Oxford Film Festival will host a Filmmaker Roundtable and Songwriters in the Round, both at the Malco Pavilion Auditorium (206 Commonwealth Blvd.), Later that evening, will be the “Casino Royale Party” at The Isom Place Oxford (1003 Jefferson Ave) with a Live Performance from The Bill Perry Trio. The always popular OXFF Awards will be celebrated as a brunch this year at The Lyric (1006 Van Buren Ave.) on Sunday, March 27.
The Oxford Film Festival would not be possible without the generous support from the following grants: Mississippi Arts Commission (MAC), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), South Arts, Visit Mississippi and Visit Oxford.
The Oxford Film Festival/OxFilm (OXFF) will require all ticket and badge holders to show proof of a completed COVID-19 vaccination regimen to enter any indoor screening or event held by OXFF. A negative COVID-19 test result will not be accepted. Mask-wearing is mandatory for all OXFF attendees indoors. The Oxford Film festival will continue to share updates as health guidelines evolve. For additional questions or assistance, please email or call 877.560.3456 (FILM).
To buy passes or tickets or find more information, please go to:
2022 Oxford Film Festival’s Official Selections
Soul Kids                                                                               
Director: Hugo Sobelman
Country: USA; Running Time: 75 min
In Memphis, one of the USA’s most distressed cities, the Stax Music Academy is an oasis. Founded in 2000, the academy continues the legacy of Stax Records, the legendary 60s soul label which was a refuge and an active space for dialog during the Civil Rights movement. By learning and understanding soul music in after-school programs, teenagers embark on Black Americans’ legacy and open themselves to new future prospects. Soul Kidsis a musical odyssey through history and the concerns of a new generation.
A Love Song                                                                          
Director: Max Walker-Silverman
Country: USA; Running Time: 81 min
Two childhood sweethearts, now both widowed, share a night by a lake in the mountains.
Bill Luckett Tribute                                                                           
Ox-Film Tribute to Bill Luckett  Join fellow actors and filmmakers who worked with the incomparable William O. “Bill” Luckett, a friend of the Oxford Film Festival who passed away in late 2021. Select clips of Bill’s work on the screen will be exhibited along with video messages from colleagues across the nation. Guest speakers and a Q&A moderated by Ward Emling will follow the tribute reel. Join us to share your memories of Bill with the Mississippi film community who loved him.
Secret Screening      
A work-in-progress film from an award-winning indie filmmaker will be screened. The title of the film and the director will be revealed just before lights go down and the film begins.

Director: Dan Mirvish
Country: USA; Running Time: 87 min
A White House transcriber tries to leak the 18½-minute gap in Nixon's Watergate tapes but runs afoul of hippies, swingers, and nefarious forces.
A Place Called Home                                                                                    
Director: Kiel Thorlton
Country: USA; Running Time: 102 min
After losing his wife during the birth of his second child, Levi is found raising two young girls. However, when forced to borrow money from a ruthless loan shark, he must fight to save his family and the home his family was made in.
Director: Iman Zawahry
Country: USA; Running Time: 91 min
Welcome to America: Where dreams come true...ish. A break from the traditional romantic comedy, Americanishhighlights different layers of womanhood as it intersects with cultural and societal expectations.In Jackson Heights, Queens, career-driven sisters Maryam and Sam and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera must navigate the consistent and sometimes conflicting demands of romance, culture, work, and family. Serving both as a lighthearted reimagination of and critical divergence from the classic romantic comedy, Americanish tackles and celebrates the complex intersectionalities of womanhood by welcoming us into the world—with all its joys and tribulations—of these three marriage-aged women.
Compulsus                                                                            World Premiere
Director: Tara Thorne
Country: Canada; Running Time: 81 min
When Wally gets the taste for organised violent revenge she keeps her compulsion secret, until she falls for law-abiding Lou who challenges everything she knows.
Dealing With Dad                                                                              
Director: Tom Huang
Country: USA; Running Time: 105 min
Margaret Chang is rocked from her perfect alpha-mom-corporate-manager life when she has to go back to her hometown to deal with her overbearing dad, Jialuo. Her dad is kind of an outspoken jerk but is now despondent and won’t leave the house. Since she can’t deal with her parents by herself, she drags along her older sad sack brother, Roy to help her. When they arrive to their childhood home, they discover that their mom, Sophie (equally overbearing) and youngest angry comic book nerd brother, Larry (still living with parents) are happy with this situation... as it turns out, their dad is much more pleasant depressed than well. The siblings struggle to deal with his depression, and wonder if it's even worth getting him better.  In the meantime, they reconnect as a family by bickering and reminiscing about the bad times with Dad, discovering that their familial bond is stronger than they ever realized.
Director: Anna Baumgarten
Country: USA; Running Time: 100 min
After failing her final college class, Jane returns home to her family's lake house and--with the help of her friends and family--she comes to terms with the confusing trauma that derailed her senior year.
The Falconer                                                                         
Directors: Seanne Winslow, Adam Sjoberg
Country: Oman, USA; Running Time: 100 min
The friendship of two teenage boys from very different worlds is put to the test by a daring plan to steal animals from the zoo and sell them on the black market.
Heart of the Gun                                                                               
Director: Travis Mills
Country: USA; Running Time: 94 min
One of 12 Westerns made in 12 months, this film tells the story of Travers, a doctor who deserted his military post, searching the frontier for the wife who left him. His quest is thrown off course when he saves Sarah, a woman left for dead after a wagon raid. With the cavalry, the law, and deranged outlaws on their trail, Sarah and Travers set off together to find this missing woman. Heart of the Gun is a psychological thriller and a romance drama wrapped in a gritty Western setting.
Director: Joseph Sackett
Country: USA; Running Time: 75 min
Nothing is quite as special as a child’s relationship with their babysitter, and nine-year-old, gender-queer Johnny is obsessed with theirs – so much so that they’ve meditated their spirit right into her body! Part Freaky Friday and part Being John Malkovitch, Homebody is a charming, crowd-pleasing, cringe comedy for the gender-fluid era.
Lover, Beloved                                                                                  
Director: Michael Tully
Country: USA; Running Time: 78 min
In this experimental blend of film, theater, and music, Suzanne Vega reinterprets two talks Carson McCullers gave at the 92nd St. Y in NYC.
Directors: Ori Segev, Noah Dixon
Country: USA; Running Time: 87 min
As Lennon fuels her desire for entrée into a podcast featuring live music and conversations with the artists she so fervently admires, Lennon finds inspiration for her own musical ambitions...and a growing sense of misdirected identity.
Director: Jean Luc Herbulot
Country: Senegal; Running Time: 84 min
2003, three mercenaries extracting a druglord out of Guinea-Bissau are forced to hide in the mystical region of Saloum, Senegal.
The Sixth Reel                                                                                   
Directors: Carl Andress, Charles Busch
Country: USA; Running Time: 100 min
A down-on-his-luck movie collector (Charles Busch) discovers a legendary lost film and becomes entangled in an outrageous adventure to deliver it to the right hands before it's lost forever.
The Automat                                                                          
Director: Lisa Hurwitz
Country: USA; Running Time: 79 min
Featuring an original new song written and performed by Mel Brooks, The Automat which premiered at the 2021 Telluride Film Festival, tells the 100-year story of the iconic restaurant chain Horn & Hardart, the inspiration for Starbucks, where generations of Americans ate and drank coffee together at communal tables. From the perspective of former customers like Mel Brooks, Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Horns, the Hardarts, and key employees - we watch a business climb to its peak success and then grapple with fast food in a forever changed America.
Being BeBe                                                                           
Director: Emily Branham
Country: USA; Running Time: 93 min
Being BeBe intimately charts 15 years for drag performer Marshall Ngwa (aka BeBe Zahara Benet): An immigrant to America from homophobic Cameroon, first champion on now-iconic LGBTQ+ reality show phenomenon RuPaul's Drag Race, and a leading artist celebrating Black Queer Excellence today.
Calendar Girls                                                                                   
Directors: Love Martinsen, Maria Loohufvud
Country: USA; Running Time: 83 min
Florida's most dedicated dance team for women over 60, shaking up the outdated image of "the little old lady," and calling for everyone to dance their hearts out, while they still can.
Cat Daddies                                                                           
Director: Mye Hoang
Country: USA; Running Time: 89 min
David Giovanni is living on the streets of New York, determined to stay together with his beloved cat, Lucky. When he’s finally granted a spot in a transitional housing facility that accepts cats, the COVID-19 pandemic and a devastating medical diagnosis put his future together with Lucky in doubt. David’s journey is interspersed with portraits of other “cat dads” from all over the country and some who struggle to navigate the unprecedented events of 2020 with their little furry friends. They include a group of firefighters, a stuntman, a truck driver, a Bay Area tech worker, a schoolteacher whose cat becomes a viral sensation, and an actor/Instagram influencer. These men couldn’t be more different, but they share an unconditional love for their beloved pets. 
Conducting Life                                                                                
Director: Diane Moore
Country: USA; Running Time: 31 min
In the rarified world of classical music, the road to success is a daunting one. Especially for young conductors. Conducting Life follows the remarkable journey of Roderick Cox as he tirelessly pursues his dream — to secure a top position with a major orchestra. Poignant and revealing, this is a story about the passion, sacrifice, and courage it takes to succeed in an elusive profession with limited opportunities. Cox’s path to the podium is an unlikely one. Born into a gospel choir home, this Georgia native showed musical promise before the age of three. In high school, Cox’s musicianship took a leap forward, thanks to a foresighted gift from Zelma Redding, Otis Redding’s widow. But it wasn’t until he entered Columbus State University Schwob School of Music that the largely self-taught musician began his formal classical training in earnest.  
The Fearless 11                                                                                 
Director: Ashley E. Gibson
Country: USA; Running Time: 63 min
In the fall of 1965, Eleven Black students volunteered to integrate John W. Provine High School in Jackson, Mississippi. Over 50 years later they come together to reflect and recount their experiences during that turbulent year.
The First Step                                                                                    
Director: Brandon Kramer
Country: USA; Running Time: 89 min
In a divided America, Van Jones controversially works across party lines on landmark criminal justice reform and a more humane response to the addiction crisis. Attempting to be a bridge builder in a time of extreme polarization takes him deep into the inner workings of a divisive administration, internal debates within both parties, and the lives of frontline activists fighting for their communities.
Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music                                                                         
Director: T.J. Parsell
Country: USA; Running Time: 106 min
The unsung story of the queer women behind some of country music’s greatest hits. Deeply moving and triumphant, Invisible: Gay Women in Southern Music gives center stage to the lesbian women who have long been hidden behind the curtain of the country music industry, all while working with big-name artists and making major contributions to the scene.  Filling in the gaps of this untold history, director T.J. Parsell spotlights the stories of these talented and persevering women — singers, songwriters, and producers — in heartfelt interviews and through their music. 
The King of North Sudan                                                                             
Director: Daniel Abel
Country: Thailand, USA, Egypt, China; Running Time: 94 min
Jeremiah Heaton: Farmer. Father. Monarch?
Director: Alysa Nahmias
Country: USA; Running Time: 94 min
Krimes is a story of confinement and freedom, of loss and creation. While locked-up for six years in federal prison, artist Jesse Krimes secretly creates monumental works of art—including an astonishing 40-foot mural made with prison bed sheets, hair gel, and newspaper. He smuggles out each panel piece-by-piece with the help of fellow artists, only seeing the mural in totality upon coming home. As Jesse's work captures the art world's attention, he struggles to adjust to life outside, living with the threat that any misstep will trigger a life sentence. Leaning into his own identity as a convicted felon and celebrated artist, Jesse turns the spotlight on people still in prison, asking us to question surface representations, recognize overlooked beauty, and celebrate the transcendent power of art to connect us and elevate the human spirit.
Mama Bears                                                                          
Director: Daresha Kyi
Country: USA; Running Time: 90 min
Mama Bears is an intimate exploration of two "mama bears" - conservative, Christian mothers who have become fierce advocates for LGBTQ+ people - and a young lesbian whose struggle for self-acceptance exemplifies why the mama bears movement is so vital.
Mississippi Messiah                                                                         
Directors: Clay Haskell, Dylan Nelson
Country: USA; Running Time: 77 min
Civil rights legend James Meredith never fit in – not as the first Black person to attend the University of Mississippi, not surrounded by fellow activists on the Meredith March, not working for ultraconservative Jesse Helms or stumping for ex-Klansman David Duke. By exploring Meredith's tumultuous history, Mississippi Messiahshowcases both the power and the limitations of an individual to inspire dramatic social change.
Roots of Fire                                                                         World Premiere
Directors: Abby Berendt Lavoi, Jeremey Lavoi
Country: USA; Running Time: 84 min
Amidst shuttered rural dance clubs and encroaching globalization, five award-winning musicians push against stereotypes of the American South and move the music of their ancestors forward. But their fans are getting older and the language is fading away. Will their efforts be enough to save a dying community?
Short Life of Trouble: The Legend of G.B. Grayson                                                                    
Director: Kelley St. Germain
Country: USA; Running Time: 39 min
Meet one of the most influential musicians in the history of bluegrass and country music that nobody has ever heard of.
Stay Here Awhile                                                                              
Directors: Carlo Engel Nasisse, Andrew Kornylak 
Country: USA; Running Time: 75 min
Salmon, sea turtles, and Atlantic Puffin all return to the exact place of their birth, traveling thousands of miles in order to lay their eggs in a place called home. Stay Here Awhile investigates the human parallel of this natural practice. It is a film about the places we call home, the landscapes that draw us in, that hurt us, and that heal us.
Tanagokoro: A Culinary Portrait                                                                            
Directors: Victoria Fistes, Masashi Nozaki 
Countries: UK/Japan; Running Time: 32 min
The inspiring tale of a Japanese chef whose dedication and compassion revolutionized the art of catching, preserving and serving fish in the United Kingdom.
That Thing That Sound                                                                                
Directors: Kelsey Hammer-Parks, Nathan M. Emerson
Country: USA; Running Time: 70 min
That Thing That Sound explores the uncertain future of the steel guitar, an instrument primarily played by older, white men. Because it’s an expensive and challenging instrument, most young and diverse musicians do not have access to steel guitars or instructors. The film follows a man's journey to pass on his knowledge and keep the steel guitar alive. His inspirational story is a model for anyone looking to make a difference in the world.
The Quest for Justice: NMRLS Oral History Project                                                                    
Director: Morgan Spencer Cutturini
Country: USA; Running Time: 43 min
The film chronicles the storied history of North Mississippi Rural Legal Services in fighting for Civil Rights and providing free legal aid for people in need.
This is [Not] Who We Are                                                                            
Directors: Beret E. Strong, Katrina Miller
Country: USA; Running Time: 77 min
"The happiest place in America is Boulder, Colorado" -- said no Black person ever. This is [Not] Who We Are is a documentary film exploring the gap between Boulder, Colorado’s progressive self-image and the lived experiences of its small but resilient Black community. Its throughline is the story of Zayd Atkinson, a university student who was performing his work study job cleaning up the grounds of his dorm when he was threatened by a police officer and, soon, by eight officers with guns drawn. He lived to tell the story many Black men don't survive to tell. While it has a unique history, Boulder is emblematic of liberal, white, university-based communities that profess an inclusive ethic but live a segregated reality. The film explores the interconnected issues of land use, affordability, racial and class-based segregation, educational equity, and policing. 
Three Minutes: A Lengthening                                                                               
Director: Bianca Stigter
Countries: Netherlands/UK; Running Time:  69 min
A snippet of 16mm film offers an emotionally charged, meditative glimpse into the lives of the unsuspecting Jewish citizens of a small Polish village at the precipice of World War II.
With This Breath I Fly                                                                                   
Directors: Sam French, Clementine Malpas
Countries: Afghanistan/USA/UK; Running Time: 78 min
At the height of the international occupation of Afghanistan, two women – Gulnaz, raped and impregnated by her uncle, and Farida, on the run from an abusive husband – are imprisoned on charges of “moral crimes” by an Afghan justice system that is supported by billions of dollars of aid moneyfrom the European Union.

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