For the past 14 years, Oxford’s annual film festival has drawn viewers in from near and far. In addition to the enthralling crowd of artistic aficionados that the festival brings to town, it also serves as a platform on which our very own Ole Miss students and alumni might put their talents to use. In fact, there has been such an outpouring of university involvement that Oxford Film Fest has all but lost count of the number of volunteers and supporters of this year’s festivities.
Naturally, the Ole Miss theater department has strong ties with the festival. The school encourages students to get involved in everything the Oxford cinematic community has to offer. In fact, the Cinema 396 class, which is entirely dedicated to film festival programming, is taught by none other than the Oxford Film Festival executive director herself, Melanie Addington.
“We work closely with Alan Arrivée, and with our Oxfilm Society program, to help students rent camera equipment through the year,” Addington said. “Alan also helps us with finding students to volunteer and does volunteering as well.”
Arrivée, who himself has had a successful career in film, is the cinema director and associate professor of theater arts at Ole Miss.
Many Ole Miss professors have dedicated themselves to the planning and production of this festival. Given the opportunity, it appears as though many students, as well as faculty and alumni, have jumped at the opportunity to be involved. At least 11 out of the 33 members of the official Oxford Film Fest staff are directly connected with the University of Mississippi, as well as at least three of the 12 board directors.
This year’s community film was directed by university professor Rory Ledbetter. It’s call “FireMax,” and it’s about all the wacky and cool talents people in Oxford have.
“There’s so many fun little things people do in Oxford, and we just came up with this silly idea,” Addington said. “It’s a very campy film about superheros of Oxford. So there’s Roundabout, who can navigate the roundabouts on Old Taylor. There’s Ajax, who can shoot toothpicks into the ceiling… It’s fun, it’s really just fun.”
In addition to the film equipment and volunteer positions made available to students, the university is sponsoring the event for the first time in a few years, therefore enabling the festival to give away 300 free tickets to students. This year’s screening of of the 1997 romantic comedy “Chasing Amy” and corresponding panel with director Kevin Smith will be held this Saturday at the Gertrude C. Ford center on campus, making it easily accessible to all students.
Some students have even earned themselves a coveted spot in the festival line up. Senior integrated marketing communications major Alex Presley will have her music video for her original song “Magic8” screened during the music video block Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Christina Huff, a current University of Mississippi art student, will have the distinct honor of having her new film, “SWABS,” screened. According to Oxford Film Fest, “SWABS” is “a short experimental film that captures the feeling of an existential, macrocosm of the universe.” It’ll be screening at at 1:15 p.m. Friday at the Malco Commons theater.