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Perk of my volunteer duties for a film festival and why you should get your Intruder ticket

September 2, 2009

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A few minutes ago I got off the phone with an 85-year-0ld man who was a graduate student at Ole Miss in 1949. He called to tell me that the back of his head was in an early scene of “Intruder in the Dust” and that he would love to drive from Alabama to Oxford, Miss. in order to see the 60th anniversary screening of the film. He joked that he is probably one of the few still living, but sadly, the case is true. The October screening may be the last chance for many of the people involved with the film to come together and in the place where they not only world-premiered the film, but held the casting office during the filming. The event, which I have helped to organize (in only a small way but for full disclosure sake, most credit goes to Diala Chaney and the OFF co-directors, and of course the Lyric co-owners Bradley and Tim) is serving as the fundraiser for this year’s Oxford Film Festival. Lovely moments, such as his call, have occurred off and on for the past month as people become aware of the event. Many call and tell me their memories of the filming, of Faulkner, of a different Oxford than I can ever know.

To be honest, when we started with the idea, we thought it might be a fun local event where we watch a movie. Instead it is turning into the premiere event for film lovers and a wonderful kick off to the start of a new era in Oxford and the film industry. But more importantly, it is a chance to hear one of the more interesting chapters in Oxford’s history.

On Oct. 2 the screening will involve a tasty reception with food catered by John Currence (owner of City Grocery and so much more) and then the world premiere of a documentary about Oxonians memories of the making of the film. The doc, created by Joe York and Leadership Lafayette, is something I am deeply looking forward to as so many people in the community have come out to share their memories.

Claude Jarman, Jr. (Chick Mallison in the film) has graciously offered to fly in from his home on the West Coast to attend the screening as he did 60 years ago. His wife and family will be joining him. His stand in for the film is also still living and will be joining us as well and a few others who had small parts in the film. There are several other special guests that will be there as well as a lot of people who remember the excitement of having Hollywood capture a bit of the Oxford charm. After the movies, we will have some live music that people can enjoy or just keep on talking with friends, neighbors and even an Oscar winning star.

I hope that people come out, not only to help support the film festival (and it could use all the support it could get this year!) but because I hope we capture some of that excitement of 60 years ago. Having this event now as we are on the eve of a burgeoning film community fills me with utter joy to relish in part of Oxford’s rich filmography that can only begin to expand as the new Oxford Film Commission begins to move forward with drawing in filmmakers to the community. Soon the new Web site and materials will be unveiled by Oxford Tourism Council that will highlight the benefits of filming in Oxford, something I hope we can all encourage to the full extent. (read more here)

Anyways, the tickets are $35 for the full evening event. The proceeds will go directly to the non-profit Oxford film festival which will be held Feb. 4-7, 2010. The fest, like many non-profits, is hurting for sponsorships this year and can use all the community support it can get. What a way to help by getting to eat good food, hear great stories and enjoy a Faulkner film and live music. You can buy tickets now at www.thelyricoxford.com or go to the box office at The Lyric from 12-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.

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