Published on February 24th, 2015 | by TLV News0
10 TLV Highlights at this year’s Oxford Film Festival
by Rebecca Long, Lauren Rogers, and Newt Rayburn
in no particular order…
Sometimes if you’re looking for signs, they’re everywhere. But what happens when you miss the signs? How do the signs get there in the first place? How does the universe handle all the requests for people who just want to “see a sign”? Is it meddling to intervene when someone sees a sign that was never meant to be sent? The Department of Signs & Magical Intervention, directed by Melissa Sweazy, is a delightful 19-minute answer to those questions and more, following a day in the afterlife of Aiden Crane, a young man who’s sent to work at The Department after his fatal accident.
This is the second year in a row we’ve been impressed by a New Puppet Order film. Last year it was The Dark Companion by Darrell Hazelrig—he also directed this year’s Ed Is a Portal, written and produced by Sam Carter. Ed (actor George Faughnan) doesn’t look so good. His co-workers Carl and Barry invite him out for a beer but after giving Ed a good glance-over, they decide maybe he does need to go home and rest. I don’t know if rest is really possible for Ed, though, since the back of his head has become an interdimensional portal for taquito-loving beings who now live with him. Just the right amount of tentacles and ooze complete this film. Long live the New Puppet Order!
The tagline I was given for this film was “a study of a tattooist in London,” and that says so little. This film, just over 6 ½ minutes, lets a man tell his own story, and through the visual effect of moving and changing ink, is strikingly beautiful. The effects remind me of a Ray Bradbury story, “The Illustrated Man,” where a man’s tattoos would change and move. But this short film is far from that fiction—it’s true to life, about one man’s truly interesting life.
It’s classic to set up a Western film with a narrator as a gunfighter walks into a saloon, right? Well, it’s a little bit different when Eric Kissack is directing the film. The gunfighter—and everyone else in the saloon—can hear the narrator, voiced by Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation). He has (and shares aloud) too much information about the bar’s patrons. So eventually tempers flare, the music forebodes, and you will get to see shots fired. This short film is funny, very funny, and the Western setting reminds me of Blazing Saddles with a different twist. Four stars and a “Yee-haw!”
This feature-length film is a laugh-out-loud comedy featuring Alex Orr and his pregnant wife Katie. At the same time Alex is dealing with the idea that he’s about to beome a father, he’s landed his own mother in jail, and he’s worried about all the bees dying. Don’t be surprised when Alex turns the cameras around and breaks the fourth wall, mixing real life with fiction.
It’s hard to believe how far communication has come over the past few decades. In today’s world, everyone is so consumed by technology that it is easy to forget about the existing world around you. In 11 minutes, Humanexus takes viewers from the basics of human speech to today’s electronic communication. This film begs the question, “Is this what we want?” and reminds us that there is so much more to experience beyond our computer screens.
Follow Jackson Wingfield’s journey to becoming an Ironman and experience the motivation it took to achieve this goal in only three short months. By capturing Wingfield’s story against a beautiful Mississippi background, director Jordan Berger draws you into the inspirational story of a man who did the unthinkable. After just four minutes, you will be setting new goals for yourself that once seemed impossible.
Who knew something as innocent as candy could be considered illegal in the United States? Who knew that this would push a man to extreme measures just to keep part of his childhood from disappearing? In this short film, Andrew Rodgers gives an exclusive look into one man’s expansive collection of Kinder eggs and the colorful toys he has collected over several years of smuggling them across borders into the United States.
Oxford Film Festival’s “Mississippi Music Video” block is a time-honored tradition and has long been one of the highlights of the entire festival. This year is no exception. Although there are only five music videos in 2015, all of them are of the highest quality and represent some of the finest talent Mississippi has to offer, both music-wise and film-wise. Included this year are three different blues films, by artists Leo “Bud” Welch, Sean “Bad” Apple, and Will Echols, who covers a Blind Willie McTell song. Tupelo, Mississippi punk rocker Jake Wood has a great melodic song called “From Tribulation to Triumph” featuring his acoustic guitar, piano, and strings. Last but not least, is the sole rocknroll tune, by Oxford, Mississippi Heavy Metal duo, The Heard. Make your plans to see Mississippi’s Music Video talent on the big screen.
Legendary Memphis music Producer Jim Dickinson may be gone, but he is certainly not forgotten. Director Nan Hackman, who co-Directed last year’s killer documentary Meanwhile In Memphis, has put together an inspirational montage of Jim Dickinson interviews, songs, and testimonies. For all of us who love Jim’s production and playing with greats like Big Star, Rolling Stones, The Replacements, North Mississippi Allstars, et al, this short film is not to be missed.
“Mississippi is Well Represented at Film Festival” by Nature Humphries
This article was originally printed in The Local Voice #223 (published February 19, 2015.)
To download a PDF of this issue, click here.