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Oxford Film Fest Wrap Up

February 13, 2008

Film fest wrap up – WINNERS

Oxford Film Festival Wrap Up

By Melanie Addington (sadly not published in the Town like I thought)

A little over a week ago, the film festival had begun, kicked off by Morgan Freeman, star of the recent “Bucket List,” as he welcomed the audience to not only enjoy but to promise to tell their friends about the films they see to help promote independent filmmakers. Now after four days of great films and thoughtful panels, the Spirit of the Hoka winners were announced at the Oxford red carpet awards ceremony.

Animated Short: Winner was “Voodoo Bayou,” a 12 minute short by Javier Gutierrez. The film animation is eerie and somewhat Tim Burtonesque (Corpse Bride). The story is simple and yet clever: a mosquito brings to life a voodoo doll deep in the Louisiana Bayou. You can follow the updates on this film and even join Club Voodoo at http://www.voodoobayouworld.com.

Documentary Short: Winner was “Gimme Green,” a 27 minute comedic look at the American fascination with a green lawn and the economic and environmental impact it has on us. Isaac Brown and Eric Flagg created the film as the requirement for their Master’s degree from the University of Florida’s Documentary Institute. “We are extremely honored to have won the doc short award at Oxford. There were so many fantastic films there that I do not envy the judges who had to make the call,” said Brown. Currently the film is, “traveling the United States with the Margaret Mead Traveling Film Festival and the Wild & Scenic Environmental Film Festival on tour.” You can find out more about the movie and see where it might be playing next at www.gimmegreen.com. Also GIMME GREEN is airing on the Sundance Channel and can be purchased for $15 from www.gimmegreen.com.

Experimental Short: Winner was Glimpse, a non-narrative study of the work of William de Kooning and an exploration of the impermanence of life. Directed by Dustin Gruella, the 4500 still shots were hand drawn and filmed over a 9 month period. This film has stunning visuals, even if I am still just not a super fan of experimental. More movies like this could change my mind.

Music Video: Winner was “Temporary Virgin” by Shiina Ringo. Not only is the song catchy but the animation captured the audiences both times that it played. It would be lovely if all music videos could be this beautifully put together.

Narrative Short: Winner was “Aquarium,” a 13 minute fictional story about two girls saving the lives of goldfish in their classroom as a result of having seen Finding Nemo. The short is cute but I think the scene from E.T. when Elliott releases the frogs was much more powerful. However, Aquarium was sweet and I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Documentary Feature: Winner was “The Listening Project,” a documentary about perceptions of America throughout the world. The four listeners traveled to fourteen countries and talked to people for 15 hours a day. The small part of their work that we see in this film is tremendous and truly a film that should be seen by everyone. Not only is the film beautifully filmed, it is a powerful story and I really can not recommend it enough to anyone who missed out on the two screenings of it in Oxford this weekend. Han Shan, one of the four filmmakers, was on hand for both screenings to do a Q&A with the audience. “With handsome crowds, great parties, and excellent films, the Oxford Film Festival was a blast. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, The Listening Project won the Spirit of the Hoka Award for Best Feature Documentary at the fun and funny Saturday night Awards Ceremony,” Shan blogged on Facebook about the film festival. For updates on the film and where it is playing next, visit: http://thelisteningprojectfilm.com.

Mississippi Film: Winner was “Sorry We’re Open” made Oxford Film Festival history when the sold out crowd overwhelmed theater one, forcing Malco to open a second screening. I’ve now seen this movie twice, and I am truly impressed with Joe York’s story telling abilities, although he also had had a fantastic motley crew to work with (Ron Shapiro, Sparky Reardon, Barton Segal, Robert Malone and more). York’s film grew out of an interest in explaining the Hoka award but instead a beautiful story emerged reminding us of a wonderful piece of Oxonian history. Joe – get this film screened again soon, there are many of us that are dying to see it again!

Narrative Feature (also won a $1,000 voucher from Kodak for film stock): Winner was “Kabluey,” a clever dark comedy written, directed, and starring Scott Prendergast. The film also stars Lisa Kudrow (Friends), Christine Taylor (Wedding Singer), Terri Garr (Mr. Mom), Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live), and Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey’s Anatomy). Prendergast in both this feature and his short films uses his experience as a former Groundling (the comedy troupe in Los Angeles) to produce quirky films that are strongly dialogue and performance driven. His character development is impressive and I look forward to seeing what films he has in store for us next. For more information on Prendergast and his films, go to www.astateof.com.

The Ron Tibbett Audience Award was presented to “The Elephant King,” a powerful narrative feature starring Ellen Burystn (Requiem for a Dream) and Ole Miss alum Tate Ellington. Ellington’s performance is powerful as the introverted younger brother assigned to bring home his troubled older brother Jake. Kent Ford, an audience member that voted for the film, said, “the film has a fully developed plot, great action, and the ending – well, we asked Tate [Ellington] if there is an alternative ending which apparently there is. What I took from the film is how it showed Americans in a foreign environment but they still just acted like Americans, they simply exploited the (native culture) and tried to make it their own.”

For more information on the films that showed at the Oxford Film Festival, go to www.oxfordfilmfest.com. Information about many of the films is available including weblinks to the film sites.

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