Published on February 11th, 2016 | by TLV News0
Oxford Film Festival: Mississippi Narrative Shorts Block Spotlight
From Oxford’s resident Grammy-winning documentarian and frequent horror short director Matthew Graves, ‘Til Death is an eerie meditation on loss, remorse, and madness, with a slight Tales from the Crypt vibe. Featuring local actors Jennifer Pierce Mathus and Michael Ewing, the film has precisely timed pacing and a brooding, spooky aesthetic, eschewing dialogue to tell its story. A couples’ nuptial bliss is shattered by tragedy, and the husband struggles to cope with his loss.
This short film is a tongue-in-cheek send-up of the ghost-hunting reality TV genre from the delightfully quirky mind of Tupelo’s Glenn Payne. The film has plenty of laughs, and plays like something of a cross between The Amityville Horror, a Christopher Guest film, and the Adult Swim network’s The Heart She Holler. Stagrassle Paranormal is the first episode of an ongoing project which tells the tale of a small Southern hamlet populated by eccentric deadbeats, and the lone disgraced documentary filmmaker who chronicles their quests to contact the other side.
Freedom Fighters is a morality tale in the form of a short, tense, action-oriented drama. The newest recruit of a right-wing militia finds himself at odds with their charismatic leader when the group tries to take a government official hostage. This film offers a subtly faith-based perspective on what it means to do the right thing – it invites the viewer to reflect on the choices we make in the interest of protecting those we see as like ourselves, and to question when such instincts cross the line into being exclusionist and dangerous. Director Wade Patterson has fashioned a parable which speaks to our modern day.
Last Night: Directed by Michael Ewing; Written by Dennis DiClaudio; Rabid Rascal Productions; 13:42; Screening: Friday, 1 p.m. Malco; Sunday, 10:30 a.m. Malco (part of the Mississippi Narrative block)
A very poignant and eerie film, Last Night follows a group of three best friends, drinking at a bar, whose lives are right about to change inexorably… just as soon as the film ends. The twist is that all of the characters speak from an omniscient point of view, commenting on their pasts and futures with a matter-of-fact resignation to the events that are about to unfold. The film takes place in one location and allows the continuity of its events to flow uninterrupted, putting the emphasis on the deft scriptwriting and the actors’ nuanced performances. This lends the experience a minimalist, intimate feeling similar to avante garde theater. The film is a haunting and thought-provoking commentary on the nature of fate, friendship, and the ways in which minute decisions can alter the course of our lives in startlingly dramatic fashion. To say much more would be ruining the surprise, but this is definitely one to watch.
The Faucet is a comical, Absurdist short about a man who just wants to wash his hands, but reality seems to be conspiring against him accomplishing even this simple task. Co-directors Danny Klimetz and Samip Raval have created a compact, enjoyable romp which anyone could relate to who has ever had a day where absolutely not one single thing goes their way. The film eschews dialogue, playing almost like a Charlie Chaplin sketch,
The Gift tells the story of one life-changing day for a boy in Tupelo in the 1940’s. To celebrate his eleventh birthday, a young boy selects his gift – little knowing that his choice will change the world.
This is definitely one of the most polished and amply budgeted productions in the Mississippi Narrative block, featuring big-name actors, an extensive crew, and a very believable recreation of mid-20th-century Southern aesthetic. Anyone with an interest in Americana and rock ‘n’ roll will especially not want to miss this project. The Gift has already garnered numerous awards and nominations, from such festivals as The Edinburgh International Film Festival, The Tupelo Film Festival, and The Dublin International Short Film & Music Festival, so here is yet another reason to catch this dynamic block of programming and support the Mississippi film industry by appreciating projects filmed in our home state.