The Oxford Film Festival is offering a discount for tickets to movies in the LGBTQ+ category for the first time ever as a show of solidarity with that community.
Melanie Addington, executive director of Oxford Film Festival, said organizers of the festival launched the LGBTQ+ category after House Bill 1523 was temporarily stopped. However, after this year, when it became legal to deny service to people, including those in the LGBTQ+ community, on the basis of religious belief, the film festival strengthened its support by offering a 50 percent discount on tickets for the LGBTQ+ section of the festival. Attendees can access this discount online with the code “OutOxford.”
“We decided to further our support and efforts of our new film series by making sure there are no barriers to access,” Addington said. “Six dollars for a movie ticket these days is less than going to a coffee shop, and so we hope it is an encouragement to try out one of the LGBT films, especially for those who never have before. We really want to fill every seat to further show support.”
In addition to an LGBTQ+ short film block, three feature-length films, “Between the Shades,” “Boys for Sale” and “Alaska is a Drag,” will represent the LGBTQ+ category at the film festival.
“For someone new to the category, Jill Salvino’s ‘Between the Shades’ is a great starting point as it is people just discussing exactly what it means to be an L, G, B, T and everything in between,” Addington said. “It is an informative documentary, and the filmmaker will be present for a Q&A.”
The films are meant to be accessible not only to the LGBTQ+ community but also to friends of the community.
“The important thing is for people to see these incredible films. Our town is so full of culture and things to do that we often lose track of what’s happening around us,” Brian Whisenant, head programmer for the LGBTQ+ category at the film festival, said. “In our current political climate, it can be really scary for LGBTQ people, and we need our allies to come out and show us love.”
The “current political climate” has made some filmmakers nervous to come to the film festival, according to Addington.
“I had LGBT filmmakers asking me about their safety coming to Mississippi this year because of HB 1523, and I want to show them that Oxford is a welcoming place for everyone,” Addington said. “I hope that Oxford responds in kind to welcome filmmakers from across the globe to our town and prove to them that laws like this do not represent us as a people.”
By offering discounted tickets to LGBTQ+ films and standing in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, Whisenant hopes to show the world that Oxford is a welcoming town.
“Oxford Film Festival has always shown LGBTQ films, but Melanie Addington and I believe that highlighting the community and giving it its own section shows our town and the film community at large that we are not our state’s legislative bigotry,” he said.
Blake Summers is the co-director for OutOxford, a recently created LGBTQ+ organization providing opportunities in education, activism, wellness and community in Oxford. Ahead of this year’s film festival, he got to preview a short film that will be shown at the festival called “Fishy.”
“It caught me off guard. I found myself relating to the gay son/father dynamic in an animation, and it hit me hard,” he said. “Being a child, you don’t have the intention of failing your parent. Coming out, for some, is very much that. It is the sad truth of today, but empathy can change all that.”
Summers said he especially appreciates Oxford Film Festival’s dedication to diversity in film.
“Oxford Film Festival has been very dedicated to bringing LGBTQ+ films to Oxford. Film offers a unique experience to relate to an unexpected person or world, and I hope others utilize this opportunity to do so,” he said.
Whisenant encouraged the community to take advantage of the discount for the LGBTQ+ section of the film festival.
“LGBTQ Oxford needs to come out and support these films,” he said. “A discount? Well, it’s another incentive, even though the films themselves are truly the only incentive needed.”