It’s every film fanatic’s favorite time of the year as the 15th annual Oxford Film Festival approaches quickly. The movie theaters of Oxford will be overflowing with producers, actors, filmmakers and movie enthusiasts alike to celebrate the five-day festival.
“Oxford is the best home for a film festival in this state,” OFF assistant director Kayleigh Graham said. “We are so proud to show off the town of Oxford and its traditions to filmmakers from all over the world. It’s really hard to not fall in love with this place.”
The festival includes short films and feature-length films, and allows movie-goers to experience an array of categories. With just more than 200 films in the festival, the number of films includes a variety of categories including “Fest Forward Animated and Experimental and New Media,” “Documentary and Narrative Features,” “Mississippi Narrative and Documentary,” “Music Video and Documentary,” “LBGTQ” and “Kid Film Festival.”
Over the past few years, the popularity of the film festival has increased, which is exciting not only for film buffs but also for the city of Oxford. This year more than 300 filmmakers planned to attend.
“We have doubled in attendance in the past two years, so I hope to see some growth but don’t expect that kind of jump again this year. I expect similar numbers to last year although ticket sales are already steady,” Melanie Addington, executive director of the film festival, said.
One hundred four of the 206 films in total at the festival will have their entire casts and crews present their film, providing the opportunity for moviegoers to interact with filmmakers and producers alike -through discussion panels and other social events planned for the festival. Films such as “Cop Chronicles: Loose Cannons: The Legend of the Haj-Mirage” and “Heartless” will be represented by their directors, producers and crews.
“While I haven’t been working at the festival as long as others, I am amazed at how much I have seen the festival grow in just the last few years. It keeps getting bigger and better,” Graham said.
This year will be the second year the festival includes the LBGTQ film category, and in order to expand this still relatively new category, tickets for those movies will be discounted at 50 percent, according to Addington. Addington said she added the LBGTQ category for last year’s festival in order to showcase and represent LGBTQ voices after the state legislature passed its controversial religious freedom bill.
Another addition to this year’s festival lineup is the Kid Film Festival, which showcased a “test run” at last year’s fest. Due to the popularity of the potential category’s test run, Addington, Graham and the entire film festival team worked to develop the idea into a two-day event that includes workshops, an array of movies and even Virtual Reality.
“The Kid Film Festival is a big focus this year as we have fully expanded that out after last year’s test run,” Addington said.
This year’s festival will stand out from previous years due to the incorporation of interactive elements and special screenings in partnership with studios including HBO and A24. The experimental virtual reality exhibit that was open during last year’s event took viewers on a realistic trip through various adventures, whether it was a jungle chase scene with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or a journey through prehistoric earth, and this year’s virtual reality exhibit will include more features. The festival will also include an anniversary screening of “Baseketball” along with a tournament for festivalgoers to participate in.
This year of the Oxford Film Festival is expected to be just as, if not more, successful than previous years.
“There is literally something for everyone, so unless you hate movies or celebrating the arts, you can experience the festival in some way,” Addington said. “We even provide numerous free events, so there is no barrier to access. I hope for their overall experience that they take away something unique such as interacting with a filmmaker or just enjoying the atmosphere.”