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2010 Oxford Film Festival announces Competition Lineup

December 24, 2009

The Oxford Film Festival, at which I do the media coordination, has its line up announced. While I won’t be covering it much on here (conflict of interest), I am blogging interviews with filmmakers over at the Oxford Film Festival blog.

The competition films for the February 4-7, 2010 fest are below:

Narrative Feature Competition

• A Quiet Little Marriage (Director: Mo Perkins)Dax and Olive are in a happy marriage. As her father disintegrates into Alzheimer’s, Olive decides she’s in a hurry to have a baby, but Dax doesn’t want their happy little world to change. After one too many glasses of wine one night, Olive pokes a hole through her diaphragm. When Dax discovers her deception he panics. Not wanting to lose the love of his life, but desperately not wanting a baby, he begins to slip Olive birth control in her morning coffee. For a time they are both happy, each thinking their plan is working but slowly their Quiet Little Marriage begins to unravel. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Cy Carter, Jimmie Simpson, Lucy DeVito. Mary Elizabeth Ellis, a native of Laurel, Miss., has a recurring role as “The Waitress” on the hit comedyIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Regional premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Bicycle Lane (Director: Jeffrey Ruggles) Don is in a predicament. His car won’t start and it’s absolutely essential that he get across Los Angeles for a birthday party. But it’s not just any birthday party. This is a party for Alli, the girl he’s had a crush on for months now. After a series of failed attempts to get a ride, he’s forced to ask his crazy neighbor for her car and despite the awkwardness, she is willing to help by offering him the only thing her ex-boyfriend didn’t take – an embarrassingly pink beach cruiser with a basket on the front. Cast: Don Black, Allison Breckenridge. Regional Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Carried Away (Director: Tom Huckabee) Ed Franklin, a young man pursuing his dreams in Hollywood, returns home to Fort Worth, Texas at Christmas time to find his family in turmoil. His parents’ marriage is crumbling and his relationship with his two brothers is rocky at best. The discovery that his beloved Granny has been placed in a nursinghome after a stroke left her mentally disabled pushes Ed over the edge. He decides to come to his unhappy Granny’s rescue. Cast: Gabriel Horn, Jennifer Sipes, Juli Erickson, Jesse Barksdale, Johnny McPhail, Thad Lee. Regional Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Happy Ending (Director: Atsuhiro Yamada) A young girl obsessed with horror movies and a strong dislike for romantic comedies sees her life turn into a movie cliché of its own when the shopkeeper of a deserted rental video store begins to have mixed feelings for her. Lacking experience in love and romance, she turns to the one place where she has learned everything up till now…the cinema. In Japanese with English subtitles. Cast:Mami Nakamura, Tomoharu Hasegawa, Nahana. Regional Premiere.

• Made in China (Director: Judi Krant) Whoopie cushions, rubber chickens, pet rocks, slinkys…behind each of those great novelties is the story of a great Novelty Inventor. This is the story of one such inventor. Johnson, a 20-something, self-styled “novelty inventor”, is determined in his quest to bring the world his big little idea. When his pitch falls flat at home, he realizes there is only one logical place to turn – China. Cast: Jackson Keuhn, Dan Sumpter. Regional Premiere.

• The Mountain The River and the Road(Director: Michael Harring ) Jeff (Justin Rice) is a failing post-college writer whose parents are finally kicking him out. With this in mind, Jeff takes off on a road trip to Austin, TX with his friend, Tom (Joe Swanberg); a final grasp at youthful freedom.Their trip unravels when their beater car busts its timing belt and Tom’s ex-girlfriend intercepts Tom’s paycheck, forcing him to bus it home to resolve his relationship. Tom leaves with his tail between his legs while Jeff stays behind in Kernville, CA hoping to be struck with inspiration as he avoids the pressures of home. Unfortunately, all he ends up doing is wandering the sleepy small town and watching daytime television. Cast: Justin Rice, Joe Swanberg, Tipper Newton. Justin Rice has been seen in recent films such as Harmony and Me, andNick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Joe Swanberg has been a mainstay on the film festival circuit, directing films such asAlexander the Last,Hannah Takes the Stairs, andLOL, as well as appearing in the films of others, including Aaron Katz’sQuiet City(OFF 2008). Tipper Newton appeared in Hannah Takes the Stairs, and will be in 2010’sThe Lie. Mississippi Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• The Scenesters (Director: Todd Berger)When a serial killer starts picking off beautiful young hipsters on the east side of Los Angeles, a couple of crime scene videographers hatch a plan to catch him before the cops do. The Scenesters is an innovative and quirky murder mystery that both honors and deconstructs the conventions of the classic ‘who-done-it?’ film genre. The LA-based comedy group The Vacationeers pulled their comedy resources together for Todd Berger’s witty and untraditional script to create a completely original film. Features Sherilyn Fenn. Mississippi Premiere.

Documentary Feature Competition

• D-Tour (Director: Jim Granato) Pat Spurgeon is a talented and professional musician who works hard to be where he is today. As a multi-instrumentalist, Pat is an integral part of the indie pop band Rogue Wave. They have performed all over the world increasing their fan base with every tour and offering to date three critically acclaimed albums. Pat has every reason to be excited about his band’s accomplishments, as well as their exciting future. In addition to giving the band everything he’s got, Pat has had to deal with kidney failure and the parameters that have been set for him by his situation. Featuring live performances from Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie), Nada Surf, Ryan Miller (Guster), John Vanderslice, The Moore Brothers, and of course Rogue Wave. Regional Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• For the Love of Movies(Director: Gerald Peary) [This film] is the first documentary to dramatize the rich history of American film criticism, from the raw beginnings before The Birth of a Nation to the current battle for audience between youthful website populists and the veteran print establishment. Regional Premiere.

• Handmade Nation(Director: Faythe Levine) Handmade Nation documents a movement of artists, crafters, and designers that recognize a marriage between historical techniques, punk and DIY ethos while being influenced by traditional handiwork, modern aesthetics, politics, feminism and art. Fueled by the common thread of creating, the film explores a burgeoning art community that is based oncreativity, determination and networking. Regional Premiere.
• The Last Survivor (Director:Michael Pertnoy, Michael Kleiman) The Last Survivor presents the stories of genocide survivors and their struggle to make sense of tragedy by working to educate, motivate and promulgate a civic response to mass atrocity crimes. Consulting Producer Jeff Scheftel also produced TV Nation (OFF 2007). World Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Mississippi Queen (Director: Paige Williams) Mississippi Queen charts a woman’s mission to find much-needed answers. Paige Williams travels across the country and through the years, as she explores the distance between her upbringing and her life now. The south stands as the backdrop and her parents as the main characters. Growing up a good Southern Baptist girl, Paige learned to love God and family. However, her senior year in high school would lead to a relationship with a girl, and all that would turn on its head. Over ten years later, she attempts to find balance in her marriage and commitment to a woman, their newborn and the fact that her parents run Mississippi’s only ex-gay ministry.

• Naturally Obsessed (Director: Richard Rifkin, Carole Rifkind) An intriguing look into the world of academic research labs, where high stakes — and even higher competition — fuel grad students in their race to complete experiments and make discoveries. This documentary unveils the human side of scientific research, casting light on the devastating highs and lows the students face as their lives become consumed with their work. Under the guidance of their advisor, Larry, (who accurately points out that the Ph.D. structure is the last true form of apprenticeship) the graduate students struggle with a variety of problems, both in and outside of the lab. Mississippi Premiere.

• Playground (Director: Libby Spears) The number one destination for Americans to have sex with a child? The U.S.A. Playground is a sensitive, heavily-researched portrait of the child-sex industry in the United States, our country’s most alarming, insidious secret. Produced by Steven Soderbergh, Grant Heslov, and George Clooney. Mississippi Premiere.

• Shooting Beauty(Director: George Kachadorian) SHOOTING BEAUTY tells the story of an aspiring fashion photographer named Courtney Bent whose life is transformed when she discovers true hidden inside a facility for people living with extreme disabilities. Over a period of five years, she becomes completely enmeshed in the laughter and sometimes soul wrenching drama taking place in this eye-opening community. When she begins inventing cameras her new friends can use, a surprising story unfolds that initial reviewers are calling a masterpiece. Mississippi Premiere.

• Streets of Plenty(Director: Corey Ogilvie) With the 2010 Olympics approaching, will the world get to know Vancouver’s darkest secret? ‘Streets of Plenty’ chronicles one man’s perilous journey to live in Vancouver’s downtown eastside ghetto. The rules of this twisted social experiment? Starting with only a pair of underwear, he must survive the harsh winter streets for 31 days. He has no money, no friends, no family, and most importantly, no home. He must navigate the institutions, policies and services alongside the thousands of people that call Vancouver’s streets home. Mississippi Premiere.

• Wheedle’s Groove (Director: Jennifer Maas) Thirty years before grunge music put Seattle on the map, late 1960’s groups like Black on White Affair, The Soul Swingers, and Cold, Bold & Together filled airwaves and packed clubs every night of the week. Many groups started to receive widespread attention with invitations to perform on national television and collaborate with mainstream acts. Just as many of the groups were on the verge of breaking out, the fickle public turned its ear to disco, and Seattle’s soul scene slipped into obscurity. Mississippi Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

Narrative Short Competition

• The Ballad of Friday and June (Director: Tate English) June, a struggling ukulele player, lives alone with her talkative dog Friday. When June’s career takes a turn for the worse, the stress begins to damage the most important relationship she has. Mississippi Premiere.
• Birthday (Director: Hans Stiritz) A portrait of quiet grief, a precious memory, and the love between a mother and child. Mississippi Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• Blue Boy (Director: Alex Jablonski) Seventeen-year-old Kenny lives in a rundown track home with his father, but every morning he rides his bike into the wealthier part of town for his lifeguarding job. Regional Premiere.
• The Fairy Princess (Director: Stephen Lyman) A dark Halloween night in a quiet suburban neighborhood. Trick or treaters out with their parents. A little girl dressed as a fairy making the rounds alone. Seeing his opportunity, a neighbor snatches the girl, takes her into his basement where their game of cat and mouse begins. And ends. Regional Premiere.
• A Journey to the West (Director: Lawrence Chen) A Journey to the West describes the simple but epic journey of a rural cobbler as he travels into the city of Beijing for the very first time. Regional Premiere.
• Kimat Normali (Director: Keren Benrafael) Almost Noraml (Kimat Normali) / Israel, 2009 Shai is born exactly ten years after Itzhak, thefirst husband of his mother, has died. Itzhak is not Shai’s father, he never even met him. Nevertheless, every year, instead of celebrating his birthday, Shai has to go to the cemetery with his family and celebrate Itzhak’s death . This year, Shai is going to turn 12 and he decided it will be different; he will do everything to feel, for once, normal. National Premiere. English subtitles. (Israel)

• Land Gewinnen (Director: Marc Brummund) Andrej and his family have been living in Germany illegally for years. When his son reaches school age, he can’t hide any longer. Mischa’s future is at stake. Mississippi Premiere. English subtitles. (Germany)

• Manual Práctico del Amigo Imaginario (abreviado) (Director: Ciro Altabas) Fernando is a shy 27 year old young man who receives the visit of an old classmate, Iratxe. This arouses jealousy in his imaginary friend, Captain Kiloton, a superhero that had stood by his side since he was a kid, and who feels their friendship is now in jeopardy. English subtitles. (Spain) Regional Premiere.

• Now or Never (Director: Angie Hill) What starts as an engagement party for the quirky, high maintenance Iris turns into an underground couples game that pushes and prods the boundaries of love and loyalty between close friends. Four couples are separated, blindfolded and escorted to confidential rooms with an anonymous partner to discover the magic or curse of this mysterious game. Producer Carlisle Forrester (who plays Mariah) is a native of Oxford, Miss.

• Sissypants (Director: Grainger David) Tom and Zoe have a relationship problem: Tom can only bring himself to say ‘I Love You’ in sign language. When Tom brings Zoe home to meet his parents for the first time, his overzealous Dad reminds them both of Tom’s old nickname–‘Sissypants’–and forces him to play a dreaded family game called Effortball, from which Tom’s fragile relationship may not survive. Mississippi Premiere.
• True Beauty This Night (Director: Peter Besson) Last night Rhett Somers, so far scraping by on good luck or just plain old ignorance, met the love of his life. The only thing left to do is convince her that she’s the one. Not an easy feat considering how they met. Mississippi Premiere.

• Zombies and Cigarettes (Director: Rafael Martinez) Four people caught in a mall. Hordes of zombies around them. Only one exit….(Spain) Regional Premiere.

Documentary Short Competition

• Among the Giants (Director: Cory Tomascoff) Among the Giants is a short documentary film that tells the story of the Adaptive Design Association. This nonprofit organization is located in New York City and builds customized equipment for kids and adults with disabilities, mainly using cardboard. Regional Premiere.
• Dive! (Director: Jeremy Seifert) Grocery stores around the country are filling their dumpsters with food. Not rotten, spoiled food, but billions of pounds of good, edible food.Why? Because the expiration date is nearing? Because it costs less to toss it rather than donate it? Whatever the answer, the contradiction is profound: good food is being thrown away and people are going hungry. Regional Premiere.
• Family Matter (Director: Jarrett Taylor, Taylor Johnston, Tom Ivancie) More than likely there will be differing memories about why two people got divorce depending on whether you speak with the couple who got divorced, their children, or extended family members. The recounting of the thoughts, feelings and memories connected to the divorced parents’ relationship will always carry the attempt at making sense of what was going on then from the vantage point of the present. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• Fledgling (Director: Tony Gault and Elizabeth Henry) Fledgling explores the relationship between Kevin and a baby crow he finds on the street one stormy night. Kevin’s backyard provides the rich setting for a story about his conflicted relationship to nature. Regional Premiere.

• Frequent Flyer (Director: Gabriel Leigh) A look at the world of frequent flyer miles and some of its most enthusiastic participants, this documentary examines how miles and points have become an important world currency and, in turn, an obsession for those who have figured out ways to earn them in the millions. Mississippi Premiere.
• I Am a Man: From Memphis, a Lesson in Life (Director: Jonathan Epstein) ‘I Am a Man’ is set in modern- day Memphis, and follows Elmore Nickleberry one of the original 1968 protesters who, at 77, is continuing to drive his trash truck through the streets of downtown Memphis. Mississippi Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• Ocean Invaders (Director: Mandee Mallonee) A unique and distinctive creature, the Lionfish is certainly a beauty to behold. Though attention catching and interesting, it is best to observe this fish from a distance. Its venomous spines are used purely for defense, yet can be very painful for humans. Having little to no natural predators, the population of the Lionfish is projected to increase. How will this affect the native fish population of the Atlantic and Caribbean? And what are scientists doing to research into this aquatic issue?Mississippi Premiere.
• Refurbished (Director: John Spottswood Moore) Pleasantly Bizarre,’ was recently used to describe Austin’s own Furby Youth Choir.Furbies were once the most popular toys in the world. They talked, they ate, and they seemed to love. Today, however… you could get four on Craig’s list for less than twenty bucks. ‘Refurbished’ tells the unique story of Thomas Fang and the Furby Youth Choir.From the junk yard to the stage, this Austin tinkerer gives these toys a new voice and a new life. Regional Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• Where Life Is (Director: Coyote Marino) Where Life Is follows three severely injured veterans pursuing sport as a means of rehabilitation and readjustment to civilian life. Regional Premiere.

Animation Competition

• Eve’s Awakening (Director: Francois Driessen) Eve’s Awakening is a short animation that explores the frailty of seeking happiness and security in the emptiness of Consumerism. Mississippi Premiere.
• Lightheaded (Director: Mike Dacko) Lightheaded is a journey we take with temperature sensitive candle creatures who sacrifice what they know to become who they are. Regional Premiere.
• The Mouse That Soared (Director: Kyle T. Bell) A young mouse is adopted by two well-meaning birds who expect of him what they would expect of any young bird — that he learns to fly. Mississippi Premiere.
• Pause Replay (Director: Chan-Chia Chang) A love story between a camera and a camcorder.About watching, memory, love and death. Regional Premiere.
• Pigeon: Impossible (Director: Lucas Martell) The CIA trained Walter Beckett to deal with all threats to national security…but pigeons!? Mississippi Premiere.
• Skylight (Director: David Baas) An animated mock documentary about the ecological plight of penguins in the Antarctic, possibly foretelling cataclysmic results for the rest of the world. Mississippi Premiere.
• Split Second Splat (Director: Chris Stacy) A new game that involves 1 parachute and 5 contestants fighting for survival during free fall. A gladiator type sport with a mixture of beauty, grace, and brutality. Regional Premiere. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• To the Moon (Director: Jacob Ospa) In 1840’s England, Prof. Emerson presents to his colleagues the outline of his upcoming balloon voyage to the moon. Regional Premiere.
• Topi (Director: Arjun Rihan) ‘Topi’ depicts an encounter between two strangers during this turbulent time. Bir, a Hindu boy, is waiting to board a train from Pakistan to India with his mother, when a violent turn of events separates them. Lost in the middle of a communal riot, he must find her before it is too late…Regional Premiere.
• WSIM: What Suffered Inside Me (Director: Jennifer Hardy) The main character sees himself as an incomplete stick figure with a crossed line on his face. Mississippi Premiere.

Experimental Competition

• Cantata in C Major (Director: Ronnie Cramer) Six-hundred-five film clips are assembled and used to create a piece of electronic music. Regional Premiere.
• Danse / Florae (Director: Tripp Watt) Choreographed dance piece meshing human form with organic compositions. National Premiere.
• Fire (Director: Thad Lee – as Thad Keel) A look at eight fires made by Dusty Sinclair over a year at Eula Acres. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• Giri Chit (Director: Simon Tarr) Giri Chit tells an epic tale. A worker driving a mobile sweeper in hypnotic circles across an already immaculate surface. The high drama of cosplay aficionados clamoring to be seen. Regional Premiere.
• La Luz Del Perdon (The Light of Forgiveness) (Director: Eileen Richardson) 16mm experimental film about the fear of rejection impeding a person’s ability to be openly gay with loved ones. Regional Premiere.
• Severing the Soul (Director: Barbara Klutinis) Found footage interweaves an account of Rosemary Kennedy’s lobotomy procedure in 1941 with an overview of the psychosurgery movement of the 1930’s-1960’s in the US. Regional Premiere.

• Utsav Mela (Director: Karl Mendonca) Utsav Mela’ is a meandering camera roll of a county fair in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh shot on a Bolex and later optically printed and hand painted to preserve the landscape from the exploitative lens of the camera while simultaneously document and (re)present my personal experience of this cultural event. Regional Premiere.

• Westhope: Above and Beyond (Director: Shannon Benine)
As wars in the Middle East, rising gas prices, and the search for alternative fuels transform American life, Westhope, North Dakota, rides the tail end of an oil boom. Rigs pepper the harsh prairie surrounding the town. But while drilling depletes this non-renewable resource, descendants of Midwestern farmers-turned-drillers face the challenge of a dwindling livelihood. Fifty years after the discovery of oil, Westhope residents live in the tension between crude and agriculture, between pump and harvest. As the oil slows, farmers begin to plant sunflowers, canola and other bio-diesel crops. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend. Mississippi Premiere.

• With a Can of Tuna Fish in a Sock (Director: Dwayne Butcher)
This digital video is a semi-autobiographical account of the filmmaker and his brother growing up in Arkansas. This piece is intended to be a witty account of their lives as citizens of the rural South and the competitions they had as children that continue today. The piece is presented in a scrolling poem format without an audio component. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend. Mississippi Premiere.

Mississippi Film Competition

• The Big Hang Up (Director: Richard Ward) When she sees a young man speaking on his cell phone and ignoring his girlfriend, Mary reflects on her own life — and the solution she found with her cell phone-obsessed spouse. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• The Butterflies (Director: Winsor Yuan) John Fisher is a closeted artist in a loveless relationship. He creates and films a project about butterflies and their environment, everything made completely of paper. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• The Collectors (Director: Daniel Lee) A strange, fantastic vision of a girl who suffers from sleep deprivation. She begins to see things that normal people cannot, and follows two bizarre beings who seem to be on a mission of their own. Filmed in Tupelo, Mississippi. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Dinner On The Grounds: A Soul Reviving Feast (Director: Sarah Simonson) This documentary presents a three part discussion of the tradition of ‘dinner on the grounds’ in Mississippi through Sacred Harp Singings, church homecomings, and Memorial Day celebrations.

• Drawing Lilly (Director: Noor Atarji) The story opens with a young woman in her twenties, smoking a cigarette in an empty, sun lit room, in deep thought. A mirror dressed with cocaine lies on the floor next to her paintbrushes. She paces around the room quietly as she continues to work on and off of her painting. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• The Flight of Calvin Waters (Director: Arjun Kaul) Calvin Waters, the Mississippi Basketball Player of the Year, struggles to decide whether to go to college locally or far away. Calvin does his best to reconcile his needs with the desires of his community. Filmmaker Arjun Kaul lives in Columbus, Miss.

• Footsteps (Director: Matthew Graves) An editor working late on Halloween will need more than energy drinks to stay awake tonight. Matthew Graves’ previous short film, Dummy,screened in OFF 2007. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Oxvegas (Director: Greg Giblin)After a stranger arrives in a small town, he is puzzled and accosted by its odd residents. Connected by television, the town becomes just plain silly as the stranger struggles for his freedom and life. Containing no less than one president accused of inappropriate contact with a squirrel, one corpse comedy hit television show, and one super-villain, Oxvegashas everything the undiscerning, half-drunk audience member needs. Filmed at Ajax Diner in Oxford, Miss. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• Parted (Director: Michael Williams) After Adam is drafted into the Vietnam War, Lori is left behind to wait for her fiance to return. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Room 327 (Director: Glenn Payne) The tension builds as the hostage situation goes bad. You wait for their demands in a sleazy hotel room. As the phone rings your heart pounds. Pick up, its for you. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Thacker Mountain Radio: A Documentary (Directors: Mary Warner and Joe York) In 1997, literature and music found a home on Oxford, Mississippi’s Thacker Mountain Radio. This documentary provides insight into how the show began and what it means to the community. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.

• Tortillas de Maiz (Directors: Ferriday Mansel, Alan Pike, Duvall Osteen) Profiling the Hernandez family of New Albany, Miss. and their Tortillaria de Cinco Estrellas, this film investigates the ways thatMississippi and the larger South are influenced by Hispanic immigrants, specifically the ways that their traditional foodways are integrated into contemporary southern culture.

• Tricks and Treats (Director: Matthew Graves)A young woman home alone on Halloween is terrorized by a mysterious stranger. Matthew Graves’ previous short film, Dummy, screened in OFF 2007. Filmmaker is scheduled to attend.
• What Happened (Directors: April Wren) Kate is in trouble and calls a good friend for help. He rushes to her side, but little does he know how messed up her situation really is.

• Winding Down (Directors: David Matthews, Ryan Roy, Michael Usry) Winding Down follows a harried businessman through his after-work routine as he attempts to de-stress while dealing with his unusual household circumstances. Regional Premiere.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. hlemai permalink
    March 3, 2010 5:41 pm

    I’m actually writing a feature story for class on George Kachadorian’s “Shooting Beauty.” He screened the film at my university and I thought it was pretty great.
    Did you see it?

    • March 5, 2010 10:42 am

      Yes, Shooting Beauty is an effective and touching doc..That is great you are writing a story on it!

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