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Tupelo Film Festival kicks off tonight

May 13, 2010
If you can’t quite get enough of film festivals and waiting until next year for the one in Oxford is just too far away, then a short drive this weekend is an easy fest fix.
The seventh annual Tupelo Film Festival kicks off tonight with a special concert by Jimbo Mathus and The Tri-State Coalition and a free outside screening of “God’s Architects,” a feature documentary by Zach Godshall about divinely inspired architects including footage from Vicksburg. The concert and film also includes a fish fry on the Lee County courthouse lawn.
After that, the festival will host two days of films (over 40), including a mix of short narratives, animation, documentaries and narrative features. The festival is more tightly focused this year with films organized in definitive blocks and quite a few films either from Mississippi filmmakers or ones focusing on topics within the state. As part of the festival, more than 30 filmmakers will be present for question and answer sessions after their film.
“I think that the line up is strong this year especially in a number of our short films,” programmer Sean Johnson said. “We have several that have taken top awards at larger festivals throughout the world and love the fact that these films are being screened in Tupelo. We’re also excited to have a strong showing of Mississippi and regional films. We have a lot of talented folks working in film and we’re happy to have the opportunity to showcase that talent.”
Friday films begin at 1 p.m. with the feature film “Lilly’s Thorn” a Capra-esque tale of a woman fighting a hostile real estate take over that is ruining her town. Later in the evening is the Mississippi Shorts block that includes films from Rex Harsin of Tupelo, Richard Ward and Edward St. Pe of Jackson. An interactive music video competition and after party will finish the night from 10 p.m. to midnight at Main Street Bar and Grill where participants can decide the winner.
On Saturday, Mississippi high school filmmakers will get a chance to screen their films after a competition last month determined the winners. Afterward is the animation block which includes “Skylight” which screened at the Oxford Film Festival and “Sebastian’s Voodoo,” which I saw at Kansas City Film Festival and highly recommend.
The animation block is followed by a Mississippi documentary block which includes Oxford’s Joe York with “Smokes & Ears” about Jackson’s Big Apple Inn and which recently premiered at the Crossroads Film Festival in Jackson. Also in the block is “When Cotton Blossoms,” the story of the founding of The Piney Woods Country Life School and “Mississippi Queen,” a documentary on the ex-gay ministry in
Mississippi which recently screened at Oxford Film Festival.
Another Mississippi short narrative block plays later that evening with “Flight of Calvin Waters” and “Room 327,” which both played at this year’s Oxford Film Festival along with “The Mistake” by Michael Williams and April Wren.
An awards ceremony beginning at 9 p.m. on Saturday will close out the festival. This differs from previous years where films continued through Sunday. The ceremony will be held at The Stables, in what used to be known as “Jailers Alley.” The band File Under Fire will provide live music.
For more information, the festival lineup, or to purchase tickets for the festival, visit
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