By Don Simpson | December 8, 2013
One of the best regional film festivals that the United States has to offer, the Oxford Film Festival has announced its lineup for the 2014 film festival to be held February 6-9, 2014 in beautiful Oxford, Mississippi. This year’s festival includes 78 films ranging from animation, experimental, documentary, narrative, features and shorts and a wide range of Mississippi films. Additional titles will be announced as they become available.
All films are in competition for the Spirit of the Hoka award except for the special screenings category which are out of competition films. The Hoka is presented on the Saturday night of the festival at a public awards ceremony and celebration.
The community film, Killer Kudzu, will have its world premiere on Thursday, Feb. 6 and will play several other times throughout the festival. Directed by Oxford filmmaker Meaghin Burke, the film tells the story of how a town must come together when a mutant vine tries to take over. The community film is out of competition and is produced by the Oxford Film Festival each year to allow locals the chance to be part of the filmmaking experience.
DOCUMENTARY FILM COMPETITION
Bending Steel (Dir. Dave Carroll)
Bending Steel follows Chris Schoeck, an endearing yet unassuming man as he trains to become a professional oldetime strongman. While preparing to perform amazing and unique feats of strength publicly, Chris also struggles to overcome crippling fears and inhibitions. For the first time in his life he is compelled to confront social awkwardness, unsupportive parents, and an overwhelming fear of failure. What unfolds is one man’s remarkable journey to find his place in the world.
Bible Quiz (Dir. Nicole Teeny)
Seventeen-year-old Mikayla memorizes books of the Bible on her quest to win the National Bible Quiz Championship and the heart of JP, her quiz team captain. The film explores coming of age in the face of faith, doubt, fierce competition and teen love.
Breaking Through (Dir. Cindy L. Abel)
Openly LGBT elected officials at all levels – including the first gay US Senator, Tammy Baldwin – share their stories of self-doubt and triumph over multiple barriers ranging from race and poverty to gender and sexual orientation. Tho’ featuring politicians, it isn’t about politics: it’s about people revealing a deeply personal, rarely-seen side of politicians and gay people.
Web (Dir. Michael Kleiman)
Web mixes a deeply personal story about people in the most remote parts of the world using digital technologies for the first time and interviews with some of the leading figures in the tech world. For 10 months, the director lived with families in small villages in Peru’s Andes Mountains and Amazon Jungle as children there experienced laptops and the Internet for the first time via the One Laptop per Child program. In addition to documenting how the children and their families used the new technologies, he documented their lives and the deep bonds of friendship that formed between him and the people.
Zipper: Coney Island’s Last Wild Ride (Dir. Amy Nicholson)
A small-time ride operator and his beloved carnival contraption are driven out of Coney Island when the City of New York and an opportunistic developer lock horns over the future of the world famous amusement park. ZIPPER examines the high cost of economic development on an American cultural icon.
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
45RPM (Dir. Juli Jackson)
Charlie, an artist who seeks a connection between her work and her deceased father’s music, teams up with Louie, an obsessive record collector. Together they scour the South in search of the elusive 45 that hails from the heyday of ’60s garage rock.
Being Awesome (Dir. Allen C. Gardner)
Ten years after graduating, Teddy and Lloyd are both hopelessly depressed. At their high school reunion, the pair strike up a friendship and later decide that they have to turn things around. Believing that they’ve overcomplicated their lives, they decide to break things down to basics and set a very clear, ‘simple’ goal for themselves: to be awesome.
Bob Birdnow’s Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self (Dir. Eric Steele)
When invited by an old friend to speak to a struggling sales team at a conference, Bob Birdnow reluctantly agrees. Bob’s attempt to say something motivational takes an unexpected turn when, forced off script and desperate, he begins the one story he’d hoped he’d never have to tell.
Father-Like Son (Dir. Mac Alsfeld)
After the sudden death of Clark’s father, his mother quickly remarries a man of the same age as her 24-year-old son…who is hell-bent on raising Clark as his own child.
Lighter (Dir. Ronnie Gunter)
In this dark comedy, redneck comedian Roman Clower decides to walk away from his successful stand-up career and return to his hometown in South Carolina to take on the part of Hamlet in a community theatre.
Teddy Bears (Dir. Thomas Beatty and Rebecca Fishman)
Teddy Bears is a dark comedy about three couples who head to the desert to help their friend Andrew heal from the loss of his mother. The friends plan a week of laughter and rejuvenation. Andrew plans a therapeutic orgy.
DOCUMENTARY SHORT COMPETITION
Dance Like No One’s Watching (Dir. Jenn Garrison)
A short documentary that explores the world of competitive Country/Western dancing within the gay community.
Die Like An Egyptian (Dir. Matt Mamula)
After a lifelong infatuation of Egyptian culture, 90 year old Fred Guentert tells the story of how he built his own Egyptian coffin, a dream he’s had since he was 8 years old.
The Ghost Pepper Eating Contest of Jefferson County (Dir. Sam Frazier, Jr.)
A documentary of an annual benefit in Birmingham, Ala. for the Sidewalk Film Festival where contestants eat increasing spicy peppers up to and including the ‘ghost pepper’–the hottest pepper known to mankind.
Herd In Iceland (Dir. Lindsay Blatt & Paul Taggart)
Herd in Iceland is a documentary about the annual round-up of the Icelandic horse, isolated for centuries by the country’s oceanic borders. During the summer months, the horses live a wild existence, grazing in the highlands and raising their young. Each fall, they are rounded up by local farmers and directed across the stunning landscape. The horse holds a precious place in Icelandic culture, art and tradition; for over 1,000 years Icelandic law has prohibited the importation of horses onto the island.
A Man Without Words (Dir. Zack Godshall)
Made in collaboration with writer and teacher Susan Schaller, A Man Without Words tells the shocking and inspiring story of how a deaf and languageless man came to discover language and connect with larger human community.
Phil Collins and the Wild Frontier (Dir. Ben Powell)
Phil Collins and The Wild Frontier follows pop music legend Phil Collins on a 5-day book tour promoting a new book that catalogues his obscure collection of artifacts from the Battle of the Alamo. As he answers questions about his collection and his retirement from music, we observe the impact his public persona has had on his life and the more painful realities of being a celebrity. What emerges is an examination of mankind’s obsession with artifacts.
NARRATIVE SHORT COMPETITION
Alaska is a Drag (Dir. Shaz Bennett)
Leo stands out in a crowd. That’s not always a good thing working in a fish cannery in Alaska. His dreams of leaving this small town are hard fought, until a new boy moves to town and sees him for who he really is: an international superstar.
Cupcake (Dir. E. J. Carter)
There’s nothing sweet about it.
Diagnostic (Dir. Fabrice Bracq)
Dr. Semyc is a specialist of a widespread disease for which there is no cure to date. Announce the diagnosis is a difficult exercise, however, that mastery to perfection.
The Discontentment of Ed Telfair (Dir. Daniel Campbell)
Ed Telfair is a mundane middle aged man who’s dealing with insecurities in his life until taking matters into his own hands.
The Horrible Life of Dr. Ghoul (Dir. Don Swaynos)
A local TV horror host is having a bad day.
Last Call (Dir. Stephen Kinigopoulos)
In the wake of the zombie apocalypse, a rag-tag documentary crew follows the lives of an elderly couple; the only two that did not abandon their homes, or each other. Is love really the key to survival when hope is not enough?
Pets (Dir. Michael Harring)
It’s the future, and humans have been kicked out of the cities by a new perfect race of clones. Now living on the outskirts, doing anything he can to survive, a man driven by desperation ventures into the city where he is abducted and adopted as a pet. He must decide whether the relatively posh life of a subservient pet is worth the cost of his freedom.
Picture Show (Dir. J. Michael Hicks & Robyn Rebecca Young)
In a small, southern town, an elderly couple that has been confined to their home for years venture out for one last date at the soon-to-close movie theater. While recreating their first date, the couple faces the reality of their fading health and their impending mortality.
Safety (Dir. Rory Uphold)
Andy tries to get over her ex by getting under Morgan. The results are awkward and unexpected.
Side Effects of Barry (Dir. Amy French)
For many* women, Barry can make a difference in just one week! *Side effects of Barry include weakness in the knees, impaired judgment, lying, cheating, trips to Vegas, missing work, and missing money…
The Sidekick (Dir. Michael J Weithorn)
As career “sidekick” Max McCabe pushes 40 and his job performance starts to lose its youthful zip, he is unceremoniously fired by his superhero boss and cast adrift in a world that seems to have no use for an aging professional buddy.
Six Letter Word (Dir. Lisanne Sartor)
An unlikely mother is forced to confront her son’s autism after an unexpected encounter with one of her johns.
Songs in the Key of Death (Dir. Edward Valibus)
FJ Ackerman is one of the most sought after professional piano tuners in the world. His unorthodox use of “Piano Tuning Zombies” is all the rage amongst the rich and famous.
The Spy Who Fleeced Me (Dir. Ed Griffith & Rodney Rastall)
Secret Agent Paco Suave saves puppetkind from destruction by the evil Madame Overee
Tryouts (Dir. Susana Casares)
After being rejected from cheerleading tryouts because of her headscarf, Nayla, a teenage Muslim American girl, will have to find her own way to follow her dream without compromising her beliefs.
MISSISSIPPI DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Landscapes of the Heart: The Elizabeth Spencer Story (Dir. Rebecca Cerese)
Landscapes of the Heart is a documentary about southern novelist Elizabeth Spencer who is still writing in her 90s. Spencer recounts her life story and the many decades she lived abroad in Rome and Montreal, away from her home state of Mississippi, a life spent in exile from the discontent of family and a literary community indifferent to her non-traditional writings about the South. Her story is filled with memories and reflections about race, class, and the changing roles of women during a defining mid-century in American history.
West of Elvis (Dir. Louis Bourgeois)
The film documents a few visits to Graceland Too in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The point of the film is to capture the essence of the place and the curator.
From Cotton Fields to Movie Premieres (Dir. Geoffrey Brent Shrewsbury)
In the depression-era Mississippi delta, a young boy named Luster Bayless frequented the picture show to escape the hardships of poverty and isolation; his hero was John Wayne. Little did young Luster know, he would not only meet John Wayne one day, but would eventually become the Duke’s main costumer. This film follows Mr. Bayless’s unique journey from picking cotton to working with some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
Jimbo Mathus: Finding Your Roots (Dir. Geoffrey Brent Shrewsbury)
This film is a brief glimpse into the life of Mississippi musician, Jimbo Mathus. Hang out with Jimbo as takes the stage at the Hill Country Picnic and talks about his musical background: from picking guitar on camping trips with his family, through appearances on David Letterman with his former band, The Squirrel Nut Zippers.
Jot ‘Em Down (Dir. Tyler Keith and Camilla Ann Aikin)
A brief glimpse into the unique horse-racing culture found at the Jot ‘Em Down Store in Lexington, Kentucky, on Derby Day 2013.
Nick’s (Dir. Camilla Ann Aikin & Tyler Keith)
Nick’s is a beloved seafood institution on the Choctawhatchee Bay in Freeport, Florida, that has been run by the Nick family since 1963. At the heart of the Nicks’ story is family- of which their longtime employees and regular customers are a part of- old Florida traditions, and the freshest, most expertly cooked fish around.
A Quiet Strength (Dir. Bobbie Baird, Hannah Caggiano, Deborah Hammond, Tommaso Spinelli)
A single, working mother in the heart of the Mississippi Delta sees hard work, education and faith as the foundation for raising her three high school daughters. She is neither a hero nor a victim of society, but rather a simple, hardworking woman who puts one foot in front of the other each day with quiet strength.
MISSISSIPPI NARRATIVE COMPETITION
Kitties: A Short Film (Dir. Greg Hanks)
A hunter and zombie struggle to gain the upper hand until they are both confronted by a new threat.
Evergreen (Dir. Jackson Segars)
On a Mississippi farm, two brothers clash over their responsibilities to the farm, their father, and each other.
Last Fall (Dir. Glenn Payne)
A story about living life while you have the chance.
Lifted (Dir. Jordan Henry)
Rob struggles to reconcile his upbringing with the recent news that he was adopted. On Halloween night, he finds himself drawn into another town member’s trick-or-treating masquerade.
The Surface (Dir. Jordan Berger)
Maintain consistency, that is key …
Bellringer (Dir. James V. Bulian)
One Helluva Drink
Echoes (Dir. Greg Earnest)
After a terrible fall in the woods, Joel climbs to safety only to be confronted by two old friends. When he realizes they intend to harm him, he must convince them to spare his life.
MISSISSIPPI MUSIC VIDEO COMPETITION
Poor Lost Souls (Dir. Shannon Cohn, Pato Cohn) – Music by Jimbo Mathus
Rattle My Faith (Dir. Derek Pearson) – Music by the Wineskins
Seasons (Dir. Dane Moreton) – Music by Damein Wash
Tennessee Walker Mare (Dir. Jennifer Pierce Mathus) – Music by Jimbo Mathus
Twisted Ways of YOU (Dir. Daniel Guaqueta) – Music by Daniel Guaqueta
WhiteGold (Dir. Jason Thornton, Jason Evans) – Music by Wolf Ruffin
Alfred Jarry & ‘Pataphysics (Dir. Skizz Cyzyk)
In this 2 minute animated documentary, an oral report on French writer, Alfred Jarry, is given stop-motion treatment with the help of talking t-shirts, flip book pages, and time-lapse lino-cut printing. Jarry is best known for his play, Ubu Roi, and his pseudo-science, ‘Pataphysics. This short film is an excerpt from a feature length documentary, Icepick to The Moon.
Baby Chicken (Dir. Azod Abedikich)
The story of a wooden man who befriends his breakfast and is then called upon to become a hero.
Balloon Cat (Dir. Michael Cermin)
Balloon Cat, at its heart, is a film about reflection. While focused on the cat floating through space, the meat of the film takes place within the cat’s mind. As his physical journey progresses, the cat reflects on his life, ultimately revealing how he got into his predicament in the first place.
The Little Blond Boy with a White Sheep (Dir. Eloi Henriod)
It’s school time again. During a writing test, Pierre escapes his grey school by recalling the happy memories of his holidays spent with his sheep.
The Missing Scarf (Dir. Eoin Duffy)
A black comedy exploring some of life’s common fears: fear of the unknown, of failure, rejection and finally the fear of death. Narrated by George Takei.
Oasis (Dir. Sacha Goedegeb)
George is on his way home after a stint in the mines. In his possession is his reward for his hard work: a rare and precious blue diamond. While seeking respite from the mid-day heat, he chances upon a strange creature which turns out to be much more than just a petty thief.
Sausage (Dir. Robert Grieves)
Topical issues of food ethics are played out in the simple but compelling tale of two artisan stallholders. Their idyllic market square is invaded by a slick fast-food vendor, set to steal all their customers. What new methods must these traditional providores invent to battle for their livelihoods?
Snowdysseus (Dir. Evan Curtis)
Snowdysseus explores the vulnerability in nostalgia for one’s home.
A Tangled Tale (Dir. Corrie Francis)
In this unusual romance, hand-tinted sand becomes a metaphor for two souls as they join and separate. A lonely fish, hooked by an angler’s line, encounters another in the same dire situation. As the two struggle, the physical connection moves deeper. Is it love or merely a will to survive?
Transmission (Dir. Jared D. WeissIn)
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a creature and his dog find a radio with a signal that may lead them to the first sign of other life they’ve encountered in ages. But is the chance to find new life worth leaving the only home they have?
Zweibettzimmer (Dir. Fabian Giessle)
Two elderly men share a hospital room, in which the window is the only connection to the outside world and thus becomes a highly demanded resource.
EXPERIMENTAL SHORT COMPETITION
Ghost of Yesterday (Dir. Tony Gault)
Ghost of Yesterday – a collage of rotoscoped home movies – is inspired by childhood memories of religion and altered consciousness. The film explores our collective abandonment of analog imagery and is a personal attempt to reconcile with digital imagery.
My Sweet (Dir. Kate McCabe)
The second in McCabe’s love letter series. A woman’s missive to her lover archly attempts to patch up an argument.
Rage Against Symphony (Dir. Elcid Asaei)
An experimental short film shot via the iPhone 8mm app, focusing on a mysterious woman who lays in a bath, surrounded by the symphony of candles, incense and classical music, as all is seemingly calm and peaceful around her, yet the serenity of the environment belies the tumultuous rage burning inside of her, as she tries to hold back the tears.
Tokyo = Fukushima (Dir. Jordan Baseman)
Tokyo = Fukushima is a time-lapse, stop-frame animation film of the city of Tokyo, six months after the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima. The film depicts Tokyo as throbbing with life and (nuclear) electricity despite the crisis and constant radioactive threat. Recorded over a two-month period, using a Bolex Super 16mm wind-up camera on the streets of Tokyo, the film acts as a love letter to an anxious friend. The city is trying to return to normal, although paranoia and anxiety are found everywhere due to minor earthquakes, aftershocks and government untruths. This beautiful and dark film is propelled by electronic music recorded by the filmmaker in Tokyo.
The Travelers (Dir. Andres Gonzalez)
Ships going out to sea.
Virtuos Virtuell (Dir. Thomas Stellmach & Maja Oschmann)
Synchronizing to the music, abstract ink drawings grow in an interplay of curiosity, timid encounters, dynamic pursuits and confrontation, stimulating many emotions, which carry us off on a poetical journey to a musical world of pictures.
Walking Inland (Dir. Chris Boniello)
Memories are a common experience that humans share. Hand painted film mixes with VHS video and static recorded on magnetic VHS tape to expand these moments and provide a reflection on the past and the present. How do these memories differ from the original, the recorded, and the recreated?
Cook School (Dir. D.L. Anderson)
Nancy Gould’s food service course is one of the most popular within the North Carolina State Prison system, but will her class be able to pull off a fine dinning experience for 60 volunteer patrons behind the gates of Orange Correctional Center? The five-month course is administered by Piedmont Community College and graduating inmates earn 16 credits toward a degree if they can stand the heat.
The Crosby Arboretum Project (Dir. Jordan Berger, Jennifer Mizenko & Alan Arrivee)
Dancers explore movement within nature at the Crosby Arboretum in Starkville, Miss.
Long Black Limo (Dir. James V. Bulian)
This is a film about a limousine driver and what he does in his spare time.
Meanwhile in Memphis: The Sound Of A Revolution (Dir. Robert Allen Parker & Nan Hackman)
A Memphis music documentary featuring maverick bluff city DIY musicians from 1978 to present day. The film documents the fact that Memphis music never stopped; even after Stax Records closed, Elvis died, & the music industry left town.
Mile High Pie (Dir. Melanie Lynn Addington and Daniel Lee Perea)
A short documentary film on the mile-high pies at Ed & Kay’s Restaurant in Benton, Arkansas.
π2 (Pi Squared) (Dir. Melanie Lynn Addington and Daniel Lee Perea)
Tate Moore, owner of Square Pizza in Oxford, Mississippi accidentally stumbles onto a new marketing concept while thwarting store theft with security cameras and social media.
Pusharatas (Dir. Meaghin Burke)
A short documentary about pusharatas (Croatian donuts) and the women who make them at Christmas in Biloxi, Mississippi.