STRANGE WEATHER
STRANGE WEATHER

The 2017 Oxford Film Festival taking place February 15 to 19, announced the full lineup of films. Katherine Dieckmann’s drama STRANGE WEATHER, starring Holly Hunter, is the opening night film while Jeff Grace’s festival hit, FOLK HERO & FUNNY GUY, serves as the closing night selection.

Dieckmann’s STRANGE WEATHER, filmed in Mississippi, stars Holly Hunter as a mother who, in an effort to deal with the grief over the death of her son, enlists her friend to help her find some answers regarding his death by traveling the back roads of the deep south.  Jeff Grace’s comedy, FOLK HERO & FUNNY GUY, stars Wyatt Russell and Alex Karpovsky in the title roles about a popular singer (Russell) who convinces his comedian friend (Karpovsky) to go on tour with him in an effort to break him out of his depressed rut.

A total of 151 films – 34 features, 117 shorts, music videos, new media, and virtual reality projects – including 15 world premieres and 4 U.S. premieres, were selected for the film festival taking place February 15 to 19, 2017, in Oxford, Mississippi. Along with the films in competition, the festival will be highlighted by three new sections: New Media, a virtual reality (VR) slate of programming, and both features and shorts sections featuring LGBTQ films.

Narrative feature films in competition this year include: Josh and Miles Miller’s ALL THE BIRDS HAVE FLOWN SOUTH; the North American premiere of Keir Burrows’s ANTI MATTER; Victoria Negri’s GOLD STAR; Ian MacAllister-McDonald’s SOME FREAKS; and Erica Fae’s TO KEEP THE LIGHT.

Documentary features in competition include: Stephen Apkon and Andrew Young’s DISTURBING THE PEACE; Andrea Kalin’s FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION; Nicholas Edwards’s SEA GYPSIES: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD; and Lara Stolman’s SWIM TEAM.

Additional highlights include a competitive virtual reality section featuring two world premieres – Jianbo Gao’s BACK TO THE SUMMER, where the viewer experiences an old man’s recollection of a special summer in his past spent with his now deceased wife; and Oliver Chen and Lubomir Kobomir Kocka’s SAY IT WITH MUSIC, where the viewer gets an immersive experience of being in the middle of a restaurant brought out of its monotony through the power of music. The new media competition is led by two U.S. premieres – the 3rd Episode (“Crossing Over”) of Ant Horasanli’s action series PETROL, about the exploits of a group of getaway drivers; and Kaihei’s WELCOME TO THE THEATER COMPANY, which follows the chaos that transpires when someone shows up to a meeting of new members of a theater group that has no actual interest in the theater.

The brand new LGBTQ sections (features and shorts) are led by Tom Gould and John Serpe’s THE HAPPYS, starring Janeane Garaofalo, where a young woman attempts to negotiate a dubious deal with her new boyfriend after catching him with a man; Michael McIntee’s documentary HOW LOVE WON: THE FIGHT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY, which follows the battle for same-sex marriage.in the state of Minnesota; and Julie Sokolow’s WOMAN ON FIRE, about the difficulties that ensue as a third-generation firefighter transitions from male to female in her father’s workplace.

The Mississippi Films Competition includes the world premiere of Michael Williams’s THE ATONING, about a family dealing with personal demons as they encounter a haunting by ghosts; Navid Sanati’s drama DON’T COME AROUND HERE, about a young man who returns to the home he ran away from years ago to confront a devastating secret he has been hiding since he left; and Wolfgang Pfoser-Almer and Stefan Wolner’s LATE BLOSSOM BLUES, about an old Blues and Gospel singer who teams with a Gulf War veteran management rookie to take the Blues world by storm.

Special Screenings and Presentations are highlighted by the world premiere of Meagan Harkins’s JOEL BLASS, about the army captain, attorney, Mississippi legislator, and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice; Raoul Peck’s Spirit Award nominated documentary I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, about writer James Baldwin’s unfinished novel, Remember This House; Maisie Crow’s award-winning documentary on the abortion issue, JACKSON; the screening of the harrowing classic drama, MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, along with Sally Sussman’s documentary, MIDNIGHT RETURN: THE STORY OF BILLY HAYES AND TURKEY, with Billy Hayes in attendance; as well as the 20th Anniversary screening of Kevin Smith’s indie hit CHASING AMY, with the film’s star, Joey Lauren Adams, and other special guests in attendance; Malcolm Ingram’s landmark LGBTQ documentary SMALL TOWN GAY BAR; and the world premiere of Mark Newton’s locally shot horror/comedy KUDZU ZOMBIES, with several of the cast and crew on hand.

2017 OXFORD FILM FESTIVAL FILMS AND DESCRIPTIONS

Feature Films

OPENING NIGHT SELECTION

STRANGE WEATHER
Director: Katherine Dieckmann
Country: United States, Running Time: 92min

A poignant, lyrical drama about a mother (Holly Hunter), who, in an effort to deal with the grief over the death of her son, travels the back roads of the deep south to settle a score.

CLOSING NIGHT SELECTION

FOLK HERO & FUNNY GUY
Director: Jeff Grace
Country: United States, Running Time: 88min

A successful singer-songwriter hatches a plan to help his friend’s struggling comedy career and broken love life by hiring him as his opening act on his solo tour.

Narrative Features Juried Competition

ALL THE BIRDS HAVE FLOWN SOUTH
Directors: Josh and Miles Miller
Country: United States, Running Time: 98min

After the death of his overbearing Mother, a sheltered man attempts to win the affection of a degenerate waitress by caring for her terminally ill and abusive husband. Soon all three lives begin to unravel as obsession and disease consume them all.

ANTI MATTER – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
Director: Keir Burrows
Country: United Kingdom, Running Time: 74min

ANTI MATTER is a sci-fi noir take on the Alice in Wonderland tale. Ana, an Oxford PhD student, finds herself unable to build new memories following an experiment to generate and travel through a wormhole. The story follows her increasingly desperate efforts to understand what happened, and to find out who or what – is behind the rising horror in her life.

GOLD STAR
Director: Victoria Negri
Country: United States, Running Time: 91min

After dropping out of Juilliard, Vicki drifts aimlessly between her family’s house in Connecticut and an itinerant existence in New York. When her father suffers a debilitating stroke, she has to become his primary caretaker. Vicki resists connecting with him, and making peace with herself, but finds a way forward thanks to a new friend and a life-changing event.

SOME FREAKS
Director: Ian MacAllister-McDonald
Country: United States, Running Time: 95min

When one-eyed high school senior Matt meets 250 lb. Jill, he falls more in love than he ever thought possible. However, when graduation comes and Jill moves cross-country to go to college, she then loses over 50 lbs. – much to Matt’s surprise when he arrives to visit her. While Matt struggles to accept Jill’s new body, Jill begins to question whether Matt is really the man she wants to date. As the distance widens between them, the characters are propelled onto a collision course with brutality and loss, forcing them to confront who they are, who they were, and who everyone thinks they’re supposed to be.

TO KEEP THE LIGHT
Director: Erica Fae
Country: United States, Running Time: 88min

Inspired by true stories, a lighthouse keeper’s wife struggles with her work and her sanity as she cares for her sick husband in 19th century Maine. When a mysterious stranger washes up on shore, secrets buried in deep waters come to light, and she is forced to confront both her past and her future.

Documentary Features Juried Competition

DISTURBING THE PEACE
Directors: Stephen Apkon, Andrew Young
Country: United States, Running Time: 86min

The film follows everyday people who took extraordinary actions by standing for what they believe in, just like those who came before them.

FIRST LADY OF THE REVOLUTION
Director: Andrea Kalin
Countries: Costa Rica, United States, Running Time: 67min

While visiting an aunt and uncle in the exotic countryside of Costa Rica, a young Southern belle from Alabama accepts a ride on the back of a motorcycle belonging to a charismatic local farmer—a ride that would propel her down narrow mountain roads and into history.

SEA GYPSIES: THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD
Director: Nicholas Edwards
Country: United States, Running Time: 80min

The vessel is Infinity, a 120-foot hand-built gypsy boat, crewed by a band of miscreants. The journey, an 8,000-mile pacific crossing, from New Zealand to Patagonia, with a stop in Antarctica.

SWIM TEAM
Director: Lara Stolman
Country: United States, Running Time: 90min

SWIM TEAM chronicles the extraordinary rise of the Jersey Hammerheads, capturing a moving quest for inclusion, independence and a life that feels winning.

Music Documentaries Juried Competition

ACOUSTIC NINJA
Director: Robert Bevis
Country: United States, Running Time: 7:30min

Trace Bundy, the fan-dubbed “Acoustic Ninja,” has never been interested in the fame and glamour offered by the mainstream music industry.

THE ARKANSAS WILD MAN
Director: Nathan Willis
Country: United States, Running Time: 18:38min

An 87-year-old rock and roll pioneer who lives a life of obscurity in his small Arkansas hometown travels overseas to England to play one final concert for his passionate and loyal fanbase there.

SHAKE ‘EM ON DOWN
Director: Joe York
Country: United States, Running Time: 57min

SHAKE ‘EM ON DOWN tells the story of Mississippi Fred McDowell, the godfather of the North Mississippi style of blues.

STRONGER THAN BULLETS
Director: Matthew Millan
Countries: United States, Libya, Running Time: 88min

Libya, 2011: Amidst the bloody revolution to overthrow the tyrant Moammar Gaddafi, a defiant music scene emerges from the dust of war.

TWO TRAINS RUNNIN’
Director: Sam Pollard
Country: United States, Running Time: 82min

TWO TRAINS RUNNNIN’ is about the search for two forgotten blues singers, set in Mississippi during the height of the civil rights movement.

Mississippi Features Juried Competition

THE ATONING – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Michael Williams
Country: United States, Running Time: 91min

Vera, Ray, and Sam, a seemingly normal family, are haunted by more than mere ghosts. The lingering horror of their past threatens their ability to function as a loving family until they become enlightened by a mystical encounter. From that moment on, they’re thrust into a horror worse than anything they’ve ever experienced. Personal demons manifest and tear the family apart from the inside out as they come to terms with their past.

DON’T COME AROUND HERE
Director: Navid Sanati
Country: United States, Running Time: 95min

When he learns that his father may not have much longer to live, Chuck goes back to the home he ran away from. There he must come to terms with his troubled brother Lenny, his own fears, and a secret he has been hiding for years.

LATE BLOSSOM BLUES
Directors: Wolfgang Pfoser-Almer, Stefan Wolner
Country: United States, Running Time: 89min

Born in 1932 in rural segregated Mississippi, Blues and Gospel singer Leo “Bud” Welch has been a poor man all his life, working hard in the cotton fields and the woods. In 2013, after decades of missed opportunities and gigs in local Juke Joints and churches, a Gulf War veteran management rookie teams up with him to take the Blues world by storm.

LGBTQ Features in Juried Competition

THE HAPPYS
Directors: Tom Gould, John Serpe
Country: United States, Running Time: 87min

Twenty-one year old Tracy walks in on her newly minted ‘movie star’ boyfriend having sex with a man. After assessing her limited options, she returns to Mark with a deal if he agrees to marry her, she’ll forget the whole thing ever happened. The cast includes Janeane Garofalo and The Walking Dead’s Melissa McBride, with an original score by Patrick Sansone (Wilco).

HOW LOVE WON: THE FIGHT FOR MARRIAGE EQUALITY
Director: Michael McIntee
Country: United States, Running Time: 82min

A brilliant and emotionally powerful documentary about the moment that changed everything in the battle for same-sex marriage. Go behind the scenes and discover the secret psychological weapon Minnesota LGBT activists deployed in this ‘unwinnable’ campaign that had failed in 30 other states.

WOMAN ON FIRE
Director: Julie Sokolow
Country: United States, Running Time: 95min

As a third-generation firefighter, Brooke Guinan has a passion for heroism that runs in her blood. But when Brooke transitions from male to female in her father’s workplace, it poses not only a challenge to a macho profession, but also to the customs of the people she cares about the most – her traditional family.

Special Screenings and Presentations

BEYOND THE ROCKS (1922)
Director: Sam Wood
Country: United States, Running Time: 80 minutes

Directed by Sam Wood and starring Gloria Swanson and Rudolph Valentino. Long considered lost, a nitrate print was discovered in the Netherlands in 2003. Not only a great film, BEYOND THE ROCKS raises important questions about film preservation and restoration.

CHASING AMY (1997)
Director: Kevin Smith
Country: United States, Running Time: 113min

Kevin Smith’s hit indie comedy stars Joey Lauren Adams, Ben Affleck, and Jason Lee. Holden (Affleck) and Banky (Lee) are comic book artists. Everything’s going good for them until they meet Alyssa (Adams), also a comic book artist. Holden falls for her, but his hopes are crushed when he finds out she’s gay.

CUTTING CHAI
Director: Chai Pani (CP) restaurant team
Country: India, Running Time: 59min

Sit back and enjoy this captivating documentary covering one of the South’s most notable Indian street food concepts as two-time James Beard Award-nominated chef Meherwan Irani and his Chai Pani crew of head chefs take on a fascinating culinary adventure through India.

THE FLAVOR SAVER
Director: Joe York
Country: United States, Running Time: 7:12min

David Shields is a historian and professor whose research into the history of Southern cuisine led him to the front of an effort to revitalize forgotten and overlooked Lowcountry produce and crops.

GUN CRAZY (1950)
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Country: United States, Running Time: 86min

Directed by Joseph H. Lewis and starring Peggy Cummins and John Dall. With a screenplay by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo, GUN CRAZY is quintessential counter-cultural film noir and an object lesson in Hollywood censorship.

THE HYBRIDS FAMILY
Director: Tony Randel
Country: United States, Running Time: 95min

Teenagers Blaz and his sister Velana come from a very different kind of mixed marriage. Todor, their father, is a vampire and Valantina, their mother, is a witch. Longing to be like normal other teenagers, they flee their cold and dreary castle for the warm tropics.

I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO
Director: Raoul Peck
Countries: United States, France, Running Time: 95min

Writer James Baldwin tells the story of race in modern America with his unfinished novel, Remember This House.

IRA WALLACE: A SEED WITH A STORY
Director: Ava Lowrey
Country: United States, Running Time: 9:57min

Ira Wallace is a seed saver, an educator, and the essential intellectual and physical energy behind Southern Exposure Seed Exchange – one of the country’s best known and most respected sources for heirloom and open-pollinated seeds.

I WAS A SPACE REFUGEE
Director: Deborah Freeland
Country: United States, Running Time: 15min

I WAS A SPACE REFUGEE is a fun retro sic-fi “B” movie. The action takes place during a moonlit night in the studio of Oxford artist Glennray Tutor.

JACKSON
Director: Maisie Crow
Country: United States, Running Time: 90min

What does life look like in a place where the anti-abortion movement has made access to legal abortion nearly impossible?

JOEL BLASS – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Meagan Harkins
Country: United States, Running Time: 74min

Joel Blass was an army captain, attorney, Mississippi legislator, and Mississippi Supreme Court Justice. Through his lifetime, he fought for equal rights of all people, despite threats by segregationist entities, and notoriously loved the law and justice.

KEEPIN’ IT WEIRD TV
Director: Cassandra Dixson
TRT: 16:00
Country: United States, Running Time: 16min

Meet our Keepin’ It Weird Youth from Austin, TX with a collection of sketches where they poke fun at the world around them!

KUDZU ZOMBIES – WORLD PREMIERE
Director: Mark Newton
Country: United States, Running Time: 90min

After a mysterious chemical transforms the citizens of Charleston into zombies, a mismatched group must fight for survival against the cannibalistic hordes.

MIDNIGHT EXPRESS (1978)
Director: Alan Parker
Country: United States, Running Time: 121min

Billy Hayes, an American college student, is caught smuggling drugs out of Turkey and thrown into prison.

MIDNIGHT RETURN: THE STORY OF BILLY HAYES AND TURKEY
Director: Sally Sussman
Country: United States, Running Time: 99min

Documentary explores the emotional and political power of film, as seen through the lens of the blockbuster hit MIDNIGHT EXPRESS, a movie that turned the real Billy Hayes into an international celebrity and made him the enemy of Turkey. Join Hayes on a daring journey back to Turkey as he faces the country still haunted by MIDNIGHT EXPRESS.

SCIENCE: A FILM BY HORIZONS RISING 5TH GRADERS
Director: Erica Avent
Country: United States, Running Time: 9:42min

5th graders with the Horizons program set out to learn about science by filming a documentary. See their interactions with North Mississippi scientists and how much they learned over the summer.

SMALL TOWN GAY BAR (2006)
Director: Malcolm Ingram
Country: United States, Running Time: 76min

The story of community in the Deep South that is forced to deal with the struggles of ignorance, hypocrisy and oppression.

SHE’S ALLERGIC TO CATS
Director: Michael Reich
Country: United States, Running Time: 74min

A lonely dog groomer searches for love but his true passion is making weird video art that nobody understands.

SONIC BOOM: EGGMAN THE AUTEUR
Produced by Sega of America
Country: United States, Running Time: 11min

Sonic Boom is the funny bone of the iconic Sonic the Hedgehog universe, which began as a Sega video game 25 years ago. This 52 x 11″ TV series follows team Sonic, including the Blue Blur himself, Tails, Amy, Knuckles, and Sticks, as they cleverly battle nefarious genius Dr. Eggman and his hench bots.

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