‘Crimes of the Heart’ examines struggles, media portrayal of Southern women

Posted on Sep 22 2017 - 8:00am by Jax Dallas

The Oxford Film Festival will round off its six-monthlong free movie series at 6 p.m. Saturday with a showing of “Crimes of the Heart” at Locals Bar & Restaurant.

The project is a partnered effort between the Oxford Film Festival and the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies to celebrate the history of Mississippi.

“Since many of the events were very male-centric I thought proposing a film series that looked at women on film based in Mississippi would be a unique way to look back at our history,” said Melanie Addington, executive director of the Oxford Film Festival.

“Crimes of the Heart” was released in 1986 as a film adaptation of a 1979 stage play of the same name and has received much praise since its release. Picking up three Academy Award nominations at the time of release, the film is widely beloved for its ability to toe the line between comedy and reverence to the trials and tribulations that many Southern women have to overcome in their daily lives.

“’Crimes of the Heart’ is that most delicate of undertakings: a comedy about serious matters,” film critic Roger Erbert said. “It exists somewhere between parody and melodrama, the tragic and the goofy. There are moments where the movie does not seem to know where it’s going but for once that’s a good thing because the uncertainty almost always ends some kind of delightful, weird surprise.”

The evening will be capped off by a conversation lead by Sheffield Spence, president of the Ole Miss branch of the Feminist Majority Foundation, giving the audience an opportunity to discuss their impressions of the film with members of their community.

This panel will be a great way to have a discussion about Mississippi-based women represented in film and how this applies to not only the state as a whole, but how media portrays women of the South,” Spence said. “I’m excited to see what elements of the film the audience will bring up to discuss.”

Attendees of the panel can expect to learn about the Feminist Majority Foundation’s role in Oxford and how it and the Oxford Film Festival have come together to spread awareness for causes ranging from domestic abuse to sexual health.

“The Oxford Film Festival does a great job of encouraging inclusivity in the City of Oxford,” Spence said. “With more screenings of films that are about women and of difficult issues such as HIV/AIDS in the documentary Deepsouth, they are creating a space in the city of Oxford that allows for people to speak up about these crucial issues in our society.”

Saturday’s showing will be a free entry event, but the Oxford Film Festival crew will be accepting donations to help them continue to host events like this and gear up for their namesake festival in February.

Both the Festival and Isom Center will host several screenings throughout the rest of the semester, including a screening of Deepsouth for World Aids Day and a Halloween/Rocky Horror Picture Show double feature.