The Oxford Film Festival is a lively time, says Addington, from “non-stop free beer to wild adventures in the middle of the night.”
The Oxford Film Festival, an exciting event in North Mississippi, is known for its hospitality and good times. Since 2003, the festival has been bringing quality independent films to audiences across the country. The festival features animated shorts, documentary features and shorts, experimental shorts, and Mississippi narratives. Melanie Addington is the Development Director of this fun film festival.
Q: How did the Oxford Film Festival begin?
A: Our local arts council, with the prompting of a local writer and filmmaker, began the festival after seeing another film festival in our state called Starkville. Due to the competitive nature of our two towns (thanks to MSU and Ole Miss football), they decided if Starkville can do it, we can do it. So it began!
Q: What are some of your favorites films from this year’s film festival?
A: Last year’s program included a fun short documentary on Paul MacLeod, called Graceland Too. Paul recently passed so we realize how lucky we were that he attended our festival and had such a great time.
I also really loved the short film, The Sidekick, and we were lucky to have Jason Ritter, Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict—stars of the short–all together at the festival.
Several films that won Hoka awards, including Bob Birdnow’s Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and The Transcendence of Self, are going on to play other festivals such as the upcoming Sidewalk Film Festival. We were so impressed with Barry Nash’s performance and were happy to give him the Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award last year.
Q: What makes the Oxford Film Festival unique and exciting?
A: I think more than anything it is the amount of participation and buy-in from the community. We have retirees, students, families and young filmmakers all there and eager to learn more from these filmmakers. We are also lucky to have great panelists and jury members, as well as fun filmmakers that attend. I think what is unique about us is our attention to detail on making sure they have a heck of a time. From non-stop free beer to full meals at parties to wild adventures in the middle of the night, it’s hard to get a lot of sleep in what first appears to be a sleepy little town.
Q: What films or festivals inspired you to get involved in the industry?
A: I studied film as a minor in college, but never thought to actually try and pick up a camera until I got involved with the Oxford Film Festival. There have been so many great filmmakers at our festival and in talking with them, I became inspired to start screenwriting and producing and eventually directing. It really is a combination of so many talented people and I am so lucky that by attending festivals year round, I am constantly inspired.
Q: What is the most fulfilling part of working at the Oxford Film Festival?
A: I think definitely seeing that moment when a filmmaker stops being nervous about their screening and starts getting excited when they hear the applause and they have a good Q & A. When I see people connect and end up making new projects because they met at our festival, I know that we are doing something right.
For myself personally, though, it was fulfilling last year to see my son’s huge smile (he is a teenager so that is rare) when he got to meet Jack Pendarvis, writer for Adventure Time, and Kent Osborne, storyboard artist, at the series’ panel discussion.
Q: Is there anything else you The Audience Awards should know about the Oxford Film Festival?
A: Submissions are open until November 1 at www.oxfordfilmfest.com. One neat advantage we have is partnering with other festivals. So for example, if you submit to Atlanta Film Festival, you get a discount submitting to our fest.
And this fun fact—we have statues that are pretty unique, made by sculptor Bill Beckwith, who is known for his sculptures of William Faulkner, B.B. King and others from throughout the South.
Learn more about the Oxford Film Fest here.