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Summer Film Series Begins Tonight in Oxford

13 Jun

By Melanie Addington

Yac and Oxford Film Festival announced their new summer film series to be held at the Powerhouse. Along with the movie, concessions from The Main Squeeze Juice Bar will be available. Ron Shapiro, the operator of legendary Hoka theatre, a supporter of both arts groups has agreed to serve as emcee.

Tonight is “War Eagle, Arkansas” starring Brian Dennehy at 7:00 p.m. The movie is an incredible story that is actually based on true life events. The producer, Vincent Insalaco, will be at the screening and will do a Q&A afterwards. The film has been on the festival circuit recently and last month won the Reely Award at the Tupelo Film Festival.

On July 11 is “We Are Wizards,” a documentary on Harry Potter fandom, primarily looking at the wizard rock bands that have sprung up after the books and movies.

On August 8, the series will wrap with a special treat in Oxford with Ole Miss Alum Tate Taylor’s film, “Pretty Ugly People” starring Missi Pyle of Boston Legal and Melissa McCarthy of Samantha Who and Gilmore Girls.

All movies will be held at the Powerhouse with the $5 tickets sold at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. with movie starting at 7.

Tupelo Film Fest Images

18 May

Tupelo Film Fest Wrapped Tonight

18 May

Reely award winners Russell Fox (l to r), Lubomir Mihailo Kocka, Jorge Arrieta, and April Perea.

By Melanie Addington

Hey Scenesters. I am tired after having such a great time with filmmakers and the amazing volunteer crew of the fest, so I am going to make this short tonight but I wanted to let you know how the fest ended!

After a long weekend of festivities, Tupelo Film Festival wrapped tonight with the awards ceremony and afterparty. But before that, a much larger audience than the first few days came out to see the final films. It was nice to see some seats filled! After the final film, Greetings From the Shore played, Frank Vitolo announced the winners.

Reely Award Winners

Feature 1st place – War Eagle, Arkansas

Feature 2nd place – Greetings From the Shore

Documentary 1st place – Finding Kraftland

Documentary 2nd place – Chasin Gus’ Ghost

Short 1st place – English Language (with english subtitles)

Short 2nd place – Book of Wisdom

Experimental/Animation – Standing On A Whale

Music Video – Trainwreck

Young Filmmaker – The Honest Shepherd

Student – The Father

Made in MS – Escape From 13

The Ron Tibbett Award – War Eagle, Arkansas

Honorable Mention – Epicac

That’s a wrap for me on Scene Now for the Tupelo Film Fest. I’ll have reviews posted as well as my top five faves of the fest at Oxfordfilmfreak.

A Great Day at the Tupelo Film Fest

17 May

By Melanie Addington

Sorry Scenesters for such a late blog but I was just having too much fun at the Tupelo Film Fest to get back to my computer. A group of filmmakers and a few other journalists started early this morning with a special tour of Elvis’ birthplace and a informative talk from Ward Emling and Nina Parikh of the Mississippi Film Office about the great new incentive program. More on that later! Afterwards, we headed back to the Lyric for lunch (catered by the always amazing Vanelli’s) then off to the library for a special talk with producer and actor Frank Vitolo.

After the talk I ran into the Lyric to catch the world premiere of Inside Voices, David Rice’s student film about a librarian that muses about life philosophy and the people around him. If you missed it, check it out below.

Afterwards I sadly missed the world premiere of Daniel Lee’s music video of Uncertain Future. But you (and I!) can see it here on Scene Now!

The unfortunate thing about the second and third days of film festivals is by that time, you’ve made alot of new friends and it becomes difficult to get yourself back in the theater when you are having such great conversations with filmmakers from all over the country (and even Canada). But I was able to catch a few other great films today. I especially enjoyed, and you will get reviews over the next few days at Oxfordfilmfreak, Jorge Arrieta’s Standing on A Whale (an experimental short) and Tim Plester’s English Language (with English subtitles).

Yesterday Was A Lie closed out tonight’s films but the party continued for filmmakers at Vanelli’s thanks to the gracious host who opened up his restaurant for the group.

Tomorrow is quite the exciting day with three great workshops. The worst part about them is they are all at the same time, so you can’t go to all of them, no matter how much you want to participate in all three!

At the BancorpSouth Conference Center tomorrow only you can pay $20 ($15 if a student) and get a great opportunity to learn more about making films.



University of Southern Mississippi – Hattiesburg, MS
8:30 -10:15 a.m. – Adult Workshop
10:30 – 12:15 p.m. – Student’s Workshop (ages 8-16)

Phillip Gentile will be conducting two camera-less animation workshops. The early morning workshop will be designed for adults and the mid-morning workshop for students. Each participant will create an animated film and view them with music at the end of the workshops. All materials will be provided.



Regent University – Virginia Beach, VA
9:00 – 12 noon

Dennis Bounds will present an overview of the screenwriting process from idea generation through sequences mapping and character defining to the basics of scene, pacing, and flow. He will end the course with how to develop your “beat sheet” and format a screenplay. (Hand-outs will be provided)

Outline will include:

1) Who you are writing for
2) Selecting the Genre
3) Centering on your idea
4) The Elements of Story
5) Identifying your characters
6) Structuring the Plot
7) The five most important elements of the script
8) Formatting the script
9) Order of Attack
10) The dirty first draft



Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah, GA
9:00 – 12 noon

Michael Chaney’s series of workshops introduces the basics of the filmmaking process. As filmmaking tools and methods of distribution become more accessible, film is finally becoming a democratic art form. If you ever wanted to make a film but didn’t know where to begin, this is the workshop for you.

The session will cover:

1) Development and Pre-Visualization
What makes a good film?
What steps are necessary to accomplish before using a camera
2) Production
Once you have a plan – how do you put it into action?
What methods to use to get your film “in the can” on a shoestring budget
3) Post Production and Distribution
After your project is filmed – how do you organize your footage to tell the best story? How to address the editing process and get your film “out there” once it is complete.

And if you aren’t into making your own but just want to see someone else’s hard work, then here’s a look at tomorrow’s line up. Some of the strongest films may come out of tomorrow’s batch, so if you haven’t made it out to the fest yet, now is the time!

Saturday, May 17th Film Line Up:


1:00 – 1:05 p.m.
Music Video – 4 Minutes, 31 Seconds
Brooklyn, New York, World Premiere


This is the official music video to the Terry Carlton song Guitars, featuring Andy Latimer of the group Camel. The psychedelic guitars is an homage to one man’s guitar collection. Bohagey Bowes and Frannie Rutherford will be attending.


1:05 – 2:20 p.m.
Feature Documentary – 1 hour 15 minutes
Boca Raton, FL, Mississippi Premiere


For over 250 years cowboys have ridden the plains of central Florida. This film captures the beauty of the old ways with the drama of encroaching civilization. We see cowboys on the range, at the rodeo and in the corrals in a beautiful and important film documenting America in the throes of change, losing her heritage.


2:20 – 2:30 p.m.
Experimental – 8 minutes
Mize, MS


Whirl is an abstract meditation on the structure of the cosmos. Dick Ford and Adam Ford will be attending.


2:30 – 2:40 p.m.
Young Filmmaker – 10 minutes
Silver Spring, MD, Mississippi Premiere


A short documentary about farm laborer activists Baldemar Velasquez and his organization, the farm labor organizing committee.


2:40 – 4:15 p.m.
Feature – 1 hour 35 minutes
Huntsville, AL, Mississippi Premiere

A post-apocalyptic fairytale about a young woman’s journey to deliver the first child born 15 years after famine, disease and war have taken their toll on civilization. A lone radio disc jockey provides the ray of hope in this artfully rendered vision of a challenging future filled with danger and fear. (non- competition)
Jim and Susannah Torres and Ron Harris will be attending.


4:20 – 4:40 p.m.
Young Filmmaker – 16 minutes 12 seconds
Savannah, GA, Mississippi Premiere


Janko, an ordinary shepherd, becomes a subject of a bet concerning his honesty. Eventually everyone involved must face the consequences of their choices. Lubomir Mihailo Kocka will be attending.


4:40 – 4:45 p.m.
3 minutes, 17 seconds
Blue Springs, MS, World Premiere


This video is a music project by an underground Mississippi artist. April Perea will be attending.


4:45 – 6:25 p.m.
Feature Documentary – 1 hour 37 minutes
Cleveland, Ohio, Mississippi Premiere

Chasing Gus

A personal exploration of the roots and growth of jug band music in the US starting with Gus Cannon in the 1920’s and his dynamic influence on the popular folk music movement of the 60’s and 70’s. The film discovers its modern popularity in Japan and features interviews and performances by John Sebastian – Lovin’ Spoonful, Bob Weir – Grateful Dead, the voice of Taj Mahal and Jim Kweskin, Geoff Muldaur, and the late Fritz Richmond, Bill Keith and Maria Muldaur from the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and David Grisman.


6:30 – 6:35 p.m.
Experimental – 3 minutes
Philadelphia, PA, World Premiere


A lively exploration of altered reality through altered perceptions. Both contemplative and humorous, this film imagines a world in which the laws of optics and time are out of control.


6:40 – 8:40 p.m.
Feature Film – 1 hour 58 minutes
Lavallette, NJ, Mississippi Premiere


Still reeling from the death of her father, a young girl spends one last summer at the Jersey Shore before heading off to college. But when her plans fall apart, the girl stumbles into a mysterious world of Russian sailors, high-stakes gambling, and unexpected love.

And of course, last but not least, tomorrow at 9 p.m. is the awards ceremony!

Tupelo Film Fest Draws Small Crowds for First Day

15 May

By Melanie Addington

The crowds never picked up during the film festival today, however, a small audience enjoyed some pretty good movies screened at The Lyric as part of the fifth annual Tupelo Film Festival.

Today’s first film was one of my favorites. Melungeon Voices is a feature documentary about the Appalachian people of mixed ethnicity and sort of a historical look at where they came from and the trials they went through. Overall, a very thorough and enjoyable doc and you can look for my review at Oxfordfilmfreak in the next couple of days. Filmmaker Julie Dixon did a Q&A after the film.

Afterwards local filmmaker Russell Fox screened his animation short, Escape from 13 set at Vanelli’s Restaurant. Although the film suffered from a few technical glitches (the DVD froze in the beginning) the short was well made and quite entertaining. It screened with a 2 minute short titled, The Father, which was well shot and well acted but quite short so very little story line could be developed. At the end of the block was Forgotten Coast, Jamie Christensen Johnston’s amazing documentary that looks at the aftermath of Katrina on the coast of Mississippi and Alabama. The film focuses on the rebuilding process a year after the hurricane and some of the footage is shocking and unseen on any of the newscasts that focused on New Orleans. Forgotten Coast previously screened at the Oxford Film Festival in February.

After a Q&A with Russell Fox and Jamie Christensen Johnston, another block of films played. First up was The Miracle which I had originally put in my top ten list but felt the adaptation from the original story was over sentimentalized. Following that was Roses Are Greek by a young filmmaker. A non dialogue film that uses music to set the emotional appeal of the story, I felt it was ok.

Just when I was starting to give up on the short films, I got the chance to see Book of Wisdom by Canadian filmmaker Josh Kimmel. A delightful short comedy about a guy who is stepped on at work and invisible to the girl of his dreams. Upon discovering a book, aptly titled “All the Answers,” he begins to turn his life around and make things happen. Look for my review at Oxfordfilmfreak.

After several other films, the filmmakers, audience, and fest staff headed to The Ice House for a bbq plate dinner and an amazing performance from blues band Homemade Jamz. As the youngest professional blues band in the world (the drummer is 9!), this family of musicians completely rocked. The fest wrapped up tonight with a screening of Genghis Blues, Adrian Belic’s Oscar nominated documentary. Although the tradition of showing a film on the lawn of the courthouse fell through due to rain (good call on director Pat Rasberry’s part), the audience enjoyed the amazing story of the blues musician that traveled to Tuva.

Overall, the fest so far has been quite fun and I look forward to the next two jampacked days of screenings. Check out the schedule for tomorrow. A ton of filmmakers are going to be at their screenings and this will be a great opportunity to see some strong films.


MOST CHANGED 11:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Short – 17 minutes
Tupelo, MS, World Premiere


Two knuckleheads drop in on a 10-year high school reunion of a school they never attended and find out that identity is in the eye of the beholder. (non-competition)

Chuck McIntosh, Austin Haley and Tom Booth will be attending.


1:00 – 2:15 p.m.
Feature Documentary- 1 hour and 15 minutes
Sherman Oaks, CA, Mississippi Premiere


After the death of his older brother, a Hollywood talent agent drags his son through an excessive quest to recapture his childhood. The quest involves zero gravity flights, obsessive collecting of pieces of Disneyland, and a trek around the world to discover the perfect rollercoaster. Along the way both father and son discover the true meaning of living life to its fullest. Language


2:15 – 2:25 p.m.
Student – 7 minutes
Tupelo, MS, World Premiere

Inside vocie

A librarian spends his time musing about people in the real world he detests. David Rice will be attending


2:35 – 3:00 p.m.
Short – 23 minutes 30 seconds
Avon, CO, Mississippi Premiere


Rabia is a woman who must blow herself up in order to exist. From the moment she straps explosives to her body, we are exposed to flashbacks of her past. When she steps onto a popular beach strapped with explosives we find ourselves wondering about her motives.


3:00 – 3:05 p.m.
Experimental – 3 minutes
Austin, TX


A childhood friend of mine escaped with his life from the World Trade Center on 9/11 2001. This film is culled from extremely rare footage he captured that day, inside as well as out. Images and sounds in memory….


3:05 – 3:10 p.m.
Music Video – 2 minutes 45 seconds
Blue Springs, MS
World Premiere

Never Give Up Hope

with: Uncertain Future

A music video for a song with a positive message by Tupelo’s own Uncertain Future.
Daniel Lee and Jake Wood will be attending.


3:10 – 3:40 p.m.
Experimental – 28 minutes
Nashville, TN, Mississippi Premiere


This imaginative film features artwork, animation and the concept of creation to bring to life the inspiration of one man – one artist.
Dominique Arrieta and Jorge Arrieta will be attending.


3:40 – 3:50 p.m.
Young Filmmaker – 6 minutes
Hatley, MS, World Premiere

Breaking Point

A young recent divorcee and her sister are confronted by the divorcee’s ex-husband who demands to see his son. After a heated argument, things turn drastically wrong.
Dustin Edmonson, Hunter White, Sarah Mitchell, Ashley Craig, and Brennan Harris will be attending


7:00 – 7:05 p.m.
Experimental – 3 minutes 12 seconds
Valencia, CA, Mississippi Premiere

Love Pills

There is a goddess of love who drops love pills into the forest and makes creatures fall in love. But one day she falls in love herself and does not know what to do.


7:05– 7:15 p.m.
Short – 9 minutes 30 seconds
Scotia, NY


Growing old is the most unexpected certainty. In the twilight of his life, Ned reflects on his past, his remaining years and discovers how his role in life has changed. This sentimental film addresses two issues; the old truly are young at heart, and universal emotions live within us all.

(With English Subtitles)

7:15 – 7:35 p.m.
Short – 19 minutes
London, United Kingdom, Mississippi Premiere


An offbeat black and white romantic comedy about love and communication … with subtitles. This film features sparking music by singer/songwriter Barbarossa.


7:35 – 7:50 p.m.
Student – 11 minutes, 30 seconds
Calbasas, CA, Mississippi Premiere


A young man’s search for his missing girlfriend launches him into a head to head battle with a stranger who claims to know everything about him. The youth must defy the stranger’s harrowing accusations and face his own tortured past if he is to have any hope of finding her. Language


7:50 – 8:15 p.m.
Student – 23 minutes
Los Angeles, CA, Mississippi Premiere


This is the dramatic story of a broken family who discovers healing within the broken keys of an old piano. Emotions are never just black and white.
Damen Fletcher and Christopher Babers will be attending


8:15 – 8:35 p.m.
Short – 21 minutes
Somerville, MA, Mississippi Premiere


A young woman named Lilly comes across a little girl playing in her front yard who appears to be completely alone. Concerned for the child’s safety, Lilly decides to get involved. And it is the last mistake she will ever make.


8:35 – 8:55 p.m.
Student – 15 minutes 17 seconds
Studio City, CA, Mississippi Premiere


One day after school 10 year old Kate takes a different route home.
Kristina Lear will be attending


9:05 -9:10 p.m.
Music Video – 4 minutes 14 seconds
Tupelo, MS, World Premiere

Great Day

with: Paul Thorn

In this music video Paul Thorn performs an original song in which characters inspired by Paul’s artwork come to life. (song written by Billy Maddox and Paul Thorn)
vaz Vanelli will be attending.


– Short – 21 minutes
Los Angeles, CA , Mississippi Premiere


Based on a Kurt Vonnegut short story, EPICAC is a science fiction romance about a machine that learns to love. When it understands that it is not made of “protoplasm” it short circuits itself out of the female and male mathematician’s lives forever.


9:30 – 11:00 p.m.
Feature Film – 1 hour 29 minutes
Hollywood, CA, Mississippi Premiere


Hoyle, a girl with a sharp mind and a weakness for bourbon, finds herself on the trail of a reclusive genius. Her work takes a series of unforeseen twists as events around her grow increasingly surreal. Plunged into a dark world of intrigue and earth-shattering cosmological secrets, she is haunted by an ever present shadow whom she is destined to face. Hoyle discovers the most powerful force in the universe lies within the depths of the human heart.

Tupelo Film Fest Has Early Start

14 May

By Melanie Addington

Hey Scenesters! Sitting in an old theater you watch Japanese television and Elvis, the early years. Where else can you be but in Tupelo? Pat Rasberry, the director of the fest, warmly greeted people as they streamed into the theater. As the rain began to pour down, we felt warm and safe. The ambiance was relaxed and I felt like a little kid with my bag of popcorn and soda.

The Tupelo Film Festival had a special showing of three festival judge’s films tonight. Due to one of the judge’s (Harris Saloman) not arriving until tomorrow, we saw only a preview of his new show, Jerzeyland. He is also presently Executive USA Producer for Office Kei Japanese Television in New York – one of the largest producers of programming for Japan in America. Because of that (and probably a little bit because Toyota coming our way) the fest opened with three clips from Japanese television with a translator explaining the scenes. It was an odd and yet delightful way to kick off a fest.

Afterwards, Elvin Whitesides introduced his documentary Jacob Lawrence: An Intimate Portrait about the great African American artist that died in 2000. Art historians claim his work as dynamic cubism from his sharp angles and beautiful sense of color, but most of his influence was from his early years in Harlem. In the 70’s he and his wife, Gwendolyn Knight, also an artist, moved to Seattle where he continued his work along with teaching. The film reflected his experiences as a teacher with an interview from one of his former students.

After the film I had the opportunity to talk with Whitesides about his upcoming work about Latino art in Los Angeles. We discussed living in California and then about his experience growing up in Tupelo. He had previously told the audience that he grew up in The Lyric with his dad running the show and his grandmother selling tickets. He made his first film out of scraps from the projection room. “Unfortunately that film no longer exists, mostly because it made no sense,” said Whitesides.

After his experience of growing up in a theater, Whitesides has gone on to be a writer/director/producer and actor. He has had roles on Frasier, Glengarry Glen Ross and Ghost World. According to the Tupelo Film fest website, currently, he is in production on Phantom Sightings, an art documentary spotlighting Cheech Marin. Elvin has previously won numerous awards for documentary filmmaking, three of them now in national distribution – Color and Fire and Galanos on Galanos represented by Films for the Humanities, and Jacob Lawrence represented by Homevision.

After a short break, producer Mimi Freeman’s documentary, Elvis: The Early Years played. I skipped out early to rest up before the next three days of constant movie watching. After my experience tonight, I am looking forward to tomorrow starting with Melungeon Voices at 11 a.m.

Oh and a heads up! Due to rain, tomorrow’s outdoor screening of Genghis Blues at 8 p.m., has been changed to The Lyric.

Troll 2 and Documentary on Elvis Kick off Tupelo Film Festival

13 May

By Melanie Addington

Hello Scenesters! I am back this week to update you on the latest happenings at the Tupelo Film Festival. Although things don’t officially kick off until Thursday, you can catch some early action tonight and tomorrow night with special screenings. At 8 p.m. tonight the fest begins at Vanelli’s Restaurant with a special screening of everyone’s favorite worst film ever, Troll 2.

Tomorrow night from 6:30-9:30 you can see “Judge’s Works in the Spotlight” at the Lyric theater in downtown Tupelo. Three movies for a $1!

Elvis: Return to Tupelo


A 90-minute Documentary Special

Produced, written and directed by
Michael Rose
Producers Mimi Freedman, Roy Turner and Jim Palmer

Elvis Presley’s emergence on the musical scene represented a seismic shift in the culture wars over race, sex and class. The story of Elvis lies at the heart of a struggle that gives birth to a new form of music – rock ‘n’ roll. The Elvis phenomenon has its roots in his birthplace where Presley began a musical journey that would take him from the wrong side of the tracks in Tupelo through Memphis, Tenn., to worldwide iconic status. Using interviews and never-before-seen home movies, photographs, artifacts and recordings, this film concentrates on the pivotal period between Elvis’ birth and his triumphant homecoming concert in 1956.

Jacob Lawrence: An Intimate Portrait


Produced and Directed by Elvin Whitesides

This documentary features the artist reflecting on his personal experiences and the historic struggles which inspire his work. Jacob Lawrence’s journey is told through interviews with his wife and friends, noted artists and historians. Distributed by Homevision, this film is a top reseller on and is frequently screened at colleges, museums and public outreach venues. Because of the film’s positive influence, the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department used it for outreach to poor and at-risk youths. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York placed it as a centerpiece for their latest Black History Month program.



The Sopranos was fiction. JerseyLand is Real.

Bridge and Tunnel, is a new 30-minute reality documentary program that focuses on the real people of New Jersey who are more real, raw and explosive then their fictional “Sopranos” brothers. Big hair, even bigger gold neck chains, gum chewing, obscenity-laden “good guys and gals.” The real stories of the real people of the Garden State like you have never seen them. Shocking, controversial, raw. The lives of these New Jerseyians portray the stories of people accelerated to a fever pitch by the time and place they live. It could only happen here. ONLY IN JERSEY!

Check back with me every night this week for live updates from the festival. If you are there, stop by and say hello! For reviews of several of the films and for the top ten must see, check out Oxfordfilmfreak.