The 2017 Oxford Film Festival celebrated the best of the fest with an awards brunch at the Powerhouse (413 S. 14th Street) on Saturday, February 18, highlighted by the announcement of Hoka awards for Ian MacAllister-McDonald’s SOME FREAKS for Best Narrative Feature, Andrea Kalin’s FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION for Best Documentary Feature, Julie Sokolow’s WOMAN ON FIRE for Best LGBTQ Feature, and the presentation of the Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award to Victoria Negri for her performance in GOLD STAR.
Today, the announcement was made of a rare tie for the Audience Award honors with Raoul Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO and Sally Sussman’s MIDNIGHT RETURN: THE STORY OF BILLY HAYES AND TURKEY sharing the award. Producer Tim Harms was on hand to accept the Hoka Award for Best Narrative Feature Film for SOME FREAKS. The award comes with a $10,000 camera rental package from Panavision, an InkTip Script listing. Navid Sanati’s DON’T COME AROUND HERE won the Hoka Award for Best Mississippi Feature Film, as well as a year of free equipment rental from the OxFilm Society.
Along with the Hoka Award for Best Documentary Feature Film, Andrea Kalin (FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION) will receive 3 days of audio post production from Bad Animals, a Seattle-based post-production facility, a $10,000 rental package from Panavision, and $2500 in editorial consultation from editor Joe Shapiro. The Music Documentary Award winner was Joe York’s SHAKE ‘EM ON DOWN.
A special Editing Award was presented to Tyler Byrnes for his work on the film, BREAKFAST, which he also directed. The first Pat Rasberry Emerging Mississippi Filmmaker Award was given to Juliet Buckholdt (A LITTLE LOVE GOES A LONG CLAY). The award was created to honor the spirit of the next generation of filmmakers in Mississippi. The filmmaker also received a Special Jury Award for Concept in the Animation category. For the second year, the Oxford Film Festival honored a female filmmaker with the Alice Guy-Blaché Female Filmmaker Award. Erin Heidenreich (GIRL UNBOUND) was announced as the winner and will also receive a $1,000 prize from the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation.
Oxford Film Festival Executive Director Melanie Addington said, “For the past two years, the Oxford Film Festival has enjoyed larger audiences to go along with the increased number of films we have accepted and presented. There is a lot of satisfaction to see that, as this film festival continues to grow and adapt with our increased base of enthusiastic film fans and the local film community, that the ambition and quality of the films we present somehow continues to trend upward as well.”
In the Short Film category, Best Narrative Short went to Donald Ian Black’s GOODBYE NEENAW, with a Special Jury Prize going to David Lea’s ON SUNDAY. The winner of the Hoka for Best Documentary Short was Matthew Firpo’s REFUGE. A Special Jury Prize was given to Tim Nackashi ‘s THROUGH THE WALL.
Ava Lowery’s OTHA TURNER was named Best Mississippi Short Film, with Coop Cooper’s PRISMA receiving a Special Jury Prize in the same category. J.B. Lawrence’s BROKEN PATHS took the prize for Best Mississippi Music Video. Sokolow’s WOMAN ON FIRE won the first Hoka for Best LGBTQ Film, with Jake Graf’s CHANCE receiving a Special Jury Prize in the new category for Oxford FF.
Christian D'Andrea’s LESS HELL, MORE ANGEL won the first REEL SOUTH AWARD, presented by the co-producing partners of REEL SOUTH South Carolina ETV, UNC-TV and the Southern Documentary Fund. The award comes with a non-exclusive distribution deal ($500 cash plus E&O and closed captioning). Pierre Zandrowicz’s I, PHILLIP took the Hoka for Best Virtual Reality (VR) Project, Manuel Alvarez Diestro and Sergio Belinchon’ THE TRADER won Best Experimental Film, and Catalina Jordan Alvarez’s PACO won for Best New Media, with Christian Strevy receiving a Special Jury Prize for Acting in the same category for his performance in the series GUNNER JACKSON. Robin Joseph’s THE FOX AND THE WHALE was awarded the Hoka for Best Animation, with Buckholdt’s A LITTLE LOVE GOES A LONG CLAY getting the Special Jury Award for Concept.
This year’s edition of the Oxford Film Festival was highlighted by an increase of more than $6000 in ticket sales, as well as a special appearance by beloved actor and social activist Danny Glover, who came to Oxford to raise awareness for the March on Mississippi in Canton on March 4th to bring awareness to the plight of Nissan workers. Glover visited the Oxford Film festival on Friday evening and regaled the audience prior to a screening of Peck’s I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, with personal anecdotes of meeting the films subject, James Baldwin, as well as talk to and pose for pictures with the fans. It was a fitting moment for a film festival that has not shied away from politics and speaking out on behalf of the underrepresented, both in the film community and the local community as well.
2017 OXFORD FF AWARD-WINNING FILMS
SOME FREAKS – BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE
Director: Ian MacAllister-McDonald
Country: United States, Running Time: 95min
When one-eyed high school senior Matt meets 250 lb. Jill, he falls more in love than he ever thought possible. However, when graduation comes and Jill moves cross-country to go to college, she then loses over 50 lbs. - much to Matt's surprise when he arrives to visit her. While Matt struggles to accept Jill's new body, Jill begins to question whether Matt is really the man she wants to date. As the distance widens between them, the characters are propelled onto a collision course with brutality and loss, forcing them to confront who they are, who they were, and who everyone thinks they're supposed to be.
FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION – BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Director: Andrea Kalin
Countries: Costa Rica, United States, Running Time: 67min
While visiting an aunt and uncle in the exotic countryside of Costa Rica, a young Southern belle from Alabama accepts a ride on the back of a motorcycle belonging to a charismatic local farmer—a ride that would propel her down narrow mountain roads and into history.
DON’T COME AROUND HERE – BEST MISSISSIPPI FEATURE
Director: Navid Sanati
Country: United States, Running Time: 95min
When he learns that his father may not have much longer to live, Chuck goes back to the home he ran away from. There he must come to terms with his troubled brother Lenny, his own fears, and a secret he has been hiding for years.
SHAKE 'EM ON DOWN – BEST MUSIC DOCUMENTARY
Director: Joe York
Country: United States, Running Time: 57min
SHAKE ‘EM ON DOWN tells the story of Mississippi Fred McDowell, the godfather of the North Mississippi style of blues.
WOMAN ON FIRE – BEST LGBTQ FILM
Director: Julie Sokolow
Country: United States, Running Time: 95min
As a third-generation firefighter, Brooke Guinan has a passion for heroism that runs in her blood. But when Brooke transitions from male to female in her father’s workplace, it poses not only a challenge to a macho profession, but also to the customs of the people she cares about the most - her traditional family.
CHANCE – SPECIAL JURY CITATION – LGBTQ FILM
Director: Jake Graf
Country: United Kingdom, Running Time: 16:11min
Trevor's life has become a void following the passing of his wife and long term companion, Doris. A chance encounter in the park with a mysterious stranger equally troubled by his own dark past jarringly reawakens him, and forces both men to once again start to live.
GOODBYE NEENAW – BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
Director: Donald Ian Black
Country: United States, Running Time: 5:59min
David and Jennifer are a brother and sister dealing with the recent and sudden loss of their grandmother who raised them from a young age in the absence of their parents. They are traveling deep into the California mountains to scatter Neenaw's ashes when a mishap occurs.
ON SUNDAY – SPECIAL JURY PRIZE – NARRATIVE SHORT
Director: David Lea
Country: United Kingdom, Running Time: 6:30min
An old man and his dog make their routine walk to the isolated cliff tops of deepest Cornwall...but this time they're not alone.
REFUGE – BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Director: Matthew Firpo
Country: Greece, Running Time: 20min
REFUGE is a chronicle of human stories from the European Refugee Crisis, focused on humanity and hope.
THROUGH THE WALL – SPECIAL JURY PRIZE – DOCUMENTARY SHORT
Director: Tim Nackashi
Country: United States, Running Time: 6:20min
A short documentary about a family divided by the US/Mexico border.
OTHA TURNER – BEST MISSISSIPPI SHORT FILM
Director: Ava Lowrey
Country: United States, Running Time: 6:02min
In the late 1950’s, fife and drum legend Otha Turner began hosting annual Labor Day picnics at his property in Gravel Springs, Mississippi. This short documentary film digs into the archives to take us back in time to Labor Day 1978.
PRISMA – SPECIAL JURY PRIZE – MISSISSIPPI SHORT FILM
Director: Coop Cooper
Country: United States, Running Time: 9:13min
A corporate promotional VHS tape from 1984 conceals a hidden signal which is said to grant increased health, longevity and psychic powers to those who watch it. View at your own risk.
BROKEN PATHS – BEST MISSISSIPPI MUSIC VIDEO
Director: J.B Lawrence
Country: United States, Running Time: 4:44min
Debut music video filmed in Brandon, Miss. Created by Stace and Cassie and J. B. Lawrence.
LESS HELL, MORE ANGEL – REEL SOUTH AWARD
Director: Christian D'Andrea
Country: United States, Running Time: 11:20min
In Mississippi, I came across black and white biker clubs doing something surprising... hugging. And blessing each other.
I, PHILLIP – BEST VIRTUAL REALITY (VR)
Director: Pierre Zandrowicz
Country: France, Running Time: 14min
In early 2005, David Hanson is developing his first android human. His name is Phil and it is simply the copy of the famous science fiction author Philip K. Dick.
THE TRADER – BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM
Directors: Manuel Alvarez Diestro, Sergio Belinchon
Country: Spain, Running Time: 12:06min
A successful stock trader decides to start a journey far from the trading floor.
PACO – BEST NEW MEDIA
Director: Catalina Jordan Alvarez
Country: United States, Running Time: 12:10min
He wants you to bounce on his lap.
GUNNER JACKSON – SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR ACTING – NEW MEDIA
Director: Christian Strevy
Country: United States, Running Time: 8:52min
My name is Jason Gunner Jackson, and I know without a doubt that I am a target of a multi-agency program that intends to surveil, track, and document my life.
THE FOX AND THE WHALE – BEST ANIMATION
Director: Robin Joseph
Country: Canada, Running Time: 12:03min
The tale of a curious fox who goes in search of an elusive whale. A journey of pursuit, longing and discovery.
A LITTLE LOVE GOES A LONG CLAY – SPECIAL JURY AWARD FOR CONCEPT - ANIMATION
Director: Juliet Buckholdt
Country: United States (Mississippi), Running Time: 3:20min
This video was made as a school project about stopping social media bullying.
Victoria Negri (GOLD STAR) - Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award
Erin Heidenreich (GIRL UNBOUND) - Alice Guy-Blaché Female Filmmaker award
Juliet Buckholdt (A LITTLE LOVE GOES A LONG CLAY) - Pat Rasberry Emerging Mississippi Filmmaker Award
BREAKFAST – BEST EDITING
Director: Tyler Byrnes
Country: United States, Running Time: 9:44min
When a young man suffering from anorexia is pressured to eat breakfast by his boyfriend, the couple are thrust into an otherworld where their anxieties and frustrations are made horrifyingly real.
I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO – AUDIENCE AWARD WINNER (TIE)
Director: Raoul Peck
Countries: United States, France, Running Time: 95min
Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.
MIDNIGHT RETURN: THE STORY OF BILLY HAYES AND TURKEY -
AUDIENCE AWARD WINNER (TIE)
Director: Sally Sussman
Country: United States, Running Time: 99min
Documentary explores the emotional and political power of film, as seen through the lens of the blockbuster hit MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, a movie that turned the real Billy Hayes into an international celebrity and made him the enemy of Turkey. Join Hayes on a daring journey back to Turkey as he faces the country still haunted by MIDNIGHT EXPRESS.