Oxford Film Festival an oasis for filmmakers

Posted on Feb 10 2014 - 8:40am by Phil McCausland

Phil McCausland I The Daily Mississippian

The Oxford Film Festival came to an end yesterday. Throughout the weekend, filmgoers and filmmakers rolled into the Malco Oxford Commons from around the world to peruse the various films that were featured by the festival. More than 80 films were played, a number of panels were held and awards were given out.

There were a total of nine film categories: animation, experimental, Mississippi music video, documentary shorts, documentary features, Mississippi documentary, narrative shorts, narrative features and Mississippi feature. Awards were also given out for acting and for achievement in acting. The Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award was given to Barry Nash for his performance in “Bob Birdnow’s Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self.” Jason Ritter, Emmy-nominated actor and the son of the late John Ritter, was given the Hoka Award for Achievement in Film.

This is the eleventh year Oxford has hosted the four-day festival. It brought in a number of actors and filmmakers from across the globe, coming to watch their own films and others’.

Robert Walters, a Los Angeles-based actor, was not involved in any of the films but appreciated what this festival has to offer and how different it is from other more well-known film festivals.

“Here it’s a lot about making the films and being appreciative of the films and of the effort that’s put in,” Walters said.

That sentiment is what many attendees agreed on — Oxford is filmmaker friendly. Crowds filled the Oxford Commons and were genuinely delighted by the films on display. Scores of people crammed the many different panels, wanting a chance to ask their own questions about film and the film industry.

Richard Speight Jr., known for his roles in “Band of Brothers,” the CBS series “The Agency,” and the TNT mini-series “Into the West” and supporting actor of the short “The Sidekick,” found Oxford to be a rare gem and premiered his film “America 101” at the film festival last year.

“It’s small — Oxford is a small town,” he said. “And yet even within a small town framework, it has a very intense art community, and I love that because you don’t see that a lot in the South.”

Speight also emphasized how well-treated everyone is at the festival.

“The affection the program directors have for filmmakers and the films themselves is palpable,” he said. “It is so impressive the way they treat everybody equally whether you’re a short filmmaker, a documentary filmmaker, or a narrative feature maker. You get equal treatment, they embrace you, they support your film, they support you.”

Phil McCausland