This year’s 2018 Indie Memphis Film Festival is promising to be a very exciting and wildly varied one, with a lineup featuring five World Premiere screenings and one U.S. Premiere screening, as well as Special Presentations such as CABIN BOY with Chris Elliott in attendance and Barbara Loden’s feminist masterpiece WANDA presented by Amy Seimetz (Showtime’s “The Girlfriend Experience”), as well as a retrospective of the recent films of filmmaker Hong Sangsoo.
The Opening Night film is Melissa Haizlip and Samuel D. Pollard’s MR. SOUL!, a documentary chronicling Ellis Haizlip, the host of a groundbreaking weekly TV show called SOUL! that aired from 1968-1973, Barry Jenkins’ IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK as the Centerpiece Presentation, and Andrew Bujaski’s SUPPORT THE GIRLS as the Closing Night selection, followed by Bujalski presenting the “Indie Memphis Actor of the Year” award for an unforgettable role by a promising new performer to one of the film’s stars, Shayna McHayle (aka Junglepussy). As previously announced, SORRY TO BOTHER YOU filmmaker Boots Riley will be the festival’s keynote speaker for the Black Creatives Forum as well as presenting BRAZIL (1985, Terry Gilliam). The festival also includes 165 short films and over 50 music videos.
This year’s festival should prove to be a very diverse one, as fifty percent of the films in the Narrative Competition are directed by female-identifying filmmakers and fifty percent are directed by people of color; in the Documentary Competition, forty-three percent are directed by women and seventy-one percent by people of color. In addition to films from the United States, the festival also boasts titles from Spain, France, South Korea, Israel, Germany, Australia, Zambia, United Kingdom, Portugal, Canada, and Democratic Republic of the Congo.
2018 Indie Memphis Film Festival Slate
MR. SOUL! (Dirs. Melissa Haizlip, Samuel D. Pollard)
Before Oprah – Before Arsenio – there was Mr. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip makes television broadcast history with SOUL!, America’s first “black Tonight Show.” Featuring archive footage of Sidney Poitier, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Harry Belafonte, among others. Filmmaker Melissa Haizlip in attendance.
2018, 90 min, Documentary
IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK (Dir. Barry Jenkins)
After her fiancé is falsely imprisoned, a pregnant young woman in Harlem sets out to clear his name and prove his innocence.
2018, 117 min, Drama
SUPPORT THE GIRLS (Dir. Andrew Bujalski)
The general manager at a highway-side ”sports bar with curves” has her incurable optimism and faith, in her girls, her customers, and herself, tested over the course of a long, strange day. Filmmaker Andrew Bujalski will present “Indie Memphis Actor of the Year” award to Shayna McHayle (aka Junglepussy).
2018, 94 min, Comedy
CLARA’S GHOST (Dir. Bridey Elliott)
Set over the course of a single evening in the Reynolds family home in suburban Connecticut, Clara’s Ghost tells the story of Clara Reynolds who, fed up with constant ribbing from her self-absorbed showbiz family, finds solace in and guidance from the supernatural force she believes is haunting her. Filmmaker Bridey Elliott in attendance. Actors Abby Elliott, Chris Elliott, and Paula Niedert Elliott in attendance.
2018, 98 min, Comedy/Drama
JINN (Dir. Nijla Mumin)
A shape-shifting, pepperoni-loving, black teenage Instagram celebrity explores her identity and sexuality in the midst of her mother’s conversion to Islam. Filmmaker Nijla Mumin in attendance.
2018, 92 min, Drama
JOBE’Z WORLD (Dir. Michael Bilandic) – World Premiere
Jobe is a roller-blading delivery dude in NYC who, one endless night, delivers drugs to his favorite actor, Royce David Leslie. Filmmaker Michael Bilandic in attendance.
2018, 67 min, Comedy
NEW MONEY (Dir. Jason B. Kohl)
A struggling woman abducts her estranged father after he cuts her out of his will.
2018, 85 min, Drama/Thriller
SEPULVEDA (Dirs. Jena English, Brandon Wilson)
An existential urban road movie about three best friends who decide to drive L.A.’ s longest street. Filmmaker Brandon Wilson in attendance.
2016, 82 min, Comedy/Drama
SHOOT THE MOON BETWEEN THE EYES (Dir. Graham Carter) – World Premiere
Jerry and Carl have conned their way from one small Texas town to another. The plan for their final con goes haywire when one of them falls in love with Maureen, all while there’s a bumbling P.I. out for vengeance and hot on their trail. Filmmaker Graham Carter in attendance.
2018, 73 min, Comedy/ Drama /Musical/Romance
SOLACE (Dir. Tchaiko Omawale)
A 17-year-old orphan named Sole is shipped off to her estranged grandmother (Lynn Whitfield from EVE’S BAYOU) in Ladera Heights, Los Angeles. Sole plots her escape to New York while navigating a foreign environment, new friendships and a hidden eating disorder. Filmmaker Tchaiko Omawale in attendance.
2018, 127 min, Drama
ENTRIALGO (Dir. Diego Llorente) – World Premiere
A beautiful and meditative study of rural Asturias, Spain. Life goes on with a different pace in Entrialgo. Rubén and Aitor grow with this rhythm. Their life swifts between the solitude of the courtyards of their house, the games mixed with the work of the adults and the school where they interact with their equals. Game, solitude and animals are witnesses and companions of a year in the life of these children. Filmmaker Diego Llorente in attendance.
2018, 65 min, Documentary
HALE COUNTY: THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING (Dir. Ramell Ross)
Composed of intimate and unencumbered moments of people in a community, HALE COUNTY: THIS MORNING, THIS EVENING allows the viewer an emotive impression of the Historic South — trumpeting the beauty of life and consequences of the social construction of race, while simultaneously a testament to dreaming — despite the odds. Filmmaker RaMell Ross in attendance.
2018, 76 min, Documentary
KINSHASA MAKAMBO (Dir. Dieudo Hamadi)
Christian, Ben and Jean-Marie are fighting for political change of power and free elections in their country, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the incumbent President refuses to relinquish power. Kinshasa Makambo immerses us in the combat these three activists are engaged in, a combat that neither bullets, nor prison, nor exile seem able to stop.
2018, 74 min, Documentary
SHAKEDOWN (Dir. Leilah Weinraub)
From 2002 to 2015, filmmaker Leilah Weinraub documents explicit performances in an underground black-lesbian club in Los Angeles. Filmmaker Leilah Weinraub in attendance.
2018, 82 min, Documentary/LGBTQ
SPEAK UP! (Dir. Amandine Gay) – US Premiere
An exploration of the intersections of discrimination, art and blackness, featuring interviews with black women in France and Belgium. Filmmaker Amandine Gay in attendance; this screening in collaboration with “Blackness in French and Francophone Film” at Columbia University.
2018, 122 min, Documentary
THIS ONE’S FOR THE LADIES (Dir. Gene Graham)
The Dojo, which is a children’s karate school by day, becomes a male strip joint on Thursday nights where hundreds of women convene for a potluck fundraiser, a sense of community, and the opportunity to throw singles at the New Jersey Nasty Boyz. Filmmaker Gene Graham in attendance.
2018, 82 min, Documentary
WRESTLE (Dir. Suzannah Herbert)
An intimate and nuanced documentary that follows the wrestling team at J.O. Johnson High School in Huntsville, which has been on Alabama’s failing schools list for decades. Filmmaker Suzannah Herbert in attendance.
2018, 99 min, Documentary
DIAMANTINO (Dirs. Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt)
Diamantino, the world’s premiere soccer star loses his special touch and ends his career in disgrace. Searching for a new purpose, the international icon sets on a delirious odyssey where he confronts neo-fascism, the refugee crisis, genetic modification, and the hunt for the source of genius.
2018, 92 min, Comedy/Drama/Fantasy
I AM NOT A WITCH (Dir. Rungano Nyoni)
Shula is the first child taken to a traveling witch camp, where she is told that should she cut the ribbon and attempt to escape, she will be cursed and transformed into a goat.
2017, 93 min, Drama
MADELINE’S MADELINE (Dir. Josephine Decker)
A theater director’s latest project takes on a life of its own when her young star takes her performance too seriously.
2018, 93 min, Drama/Thriller
NOTES ON AN APPEARANCE (Dir. Ricky D’ambrose)
A young man leaves behind an obscure cache of letters, postcards, and notebooks when he disappears. Actor Keith Poulson in attendance.
2018, 60 min, Drama
SORRY ANGEL (Dir. Christophe Honoré)
Jacques is an older writer from Paris. Arthur is a young student in Rennes. They instantly fall in love. But they’ll have to face rejection and sickness to keep it that way.
2018, 133 min, Drama/LGBTQ
TYREL (Dir. Sebastián Silva)
Tyler goes to an isolated cabin in the Catskills for a raucous all-dude weekend birthday party for a friend. He finds he is the sole black person there and grows increasingly uncomfortable.
2018, 86 min, Comedy/Thriller
WILD NIGHTS WITH EMILY (Dir. Madeleine Olnek)
Dramatization of the little known side of the writer Emily Dickinson’s life, in particular her relationship with another woman. Actor Amy Seimetz in attendance.
2018, 84 min, Comedy
A BETTER MAN (Dirs. Attiya Khan, Lawrence Jackman)
Filmmaker Attiya Khan documents her meetings with an abusive ex-boyfriend to show the healing and revelation that can happen for everyone involved when men take responsibility for their abuse. A fascinating and necessary exploration into restorative justice.
2017, 79 min, Documentary
DIVIDE AND CONQUER: THE STORY OF ROGER AILES (Dir. Alexis Bloom)
Director Alexis Bloom charts the rise and fall of the late Republican Party booster and controversial Fox News mogul who went down in flames amid multiple sexual harassment allegations.
2018, 107 min, Documentary
THE GOSPEL OF EUREKA (Dirs. Michael Palmieri, Donal Mosher)
Love, faith, and civil rights collide in the south as evangelical Christians and drag queens step into the spotlight to explore the meaning of belief. Gospel drag shows and passion plays intermix in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
2018, 75 min, Documentary
MATANGI / MAYA /M.I.A (Dir. Stephen Loveridge)
Drawn from a never before seen cache of personal footage spanning decades, Stephen Loveridge creates an intimate portrait of the Sri Lankan artist and musician known as M.I.A.
2018, 96 min, Documentary
MINDING THE GAP (Dir. Bing Liu)
Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship.
2018, 93 min, Documentary
AUGUST AT AKIKO’S (Dir. Christopher Makoto Yogi)
Armed with just his suitcase and a sax, cosmopolitan musician Alex Zhang Hungtai (DIRTY BEACHES) returns home to the Big Island of Hawai‘i having been away for nearly a decade.
2018, 75 min, Experimental Drama
BLACK MOTHER (Dir. Khalik Allah)
Filmmaker Khalik Allah offers a portrait of Jamaica, the home of his maternal grandparents. He interviews people and edits the audio as if it were music (as much for rhythm as content), exploring various themes while accompanied by his unique visual style. Filmmaker Khalik Allah in attendance.
2018, 77 min, Experimental Documentary
LIFE IS FARE (Dir. Sephora Woldu)
An experimental musical film exploring wildly different perspectives on the East African nation of Eritrea. Filmmaker Sephora Woldu in attendance.
2018, 62 min, Experimental/Musical
THE WASHING SOCIETY (Dir. Lynne Sachs)
Filmmaker Lynne Sachs and playwright Lizzie Olesker document the disappearing neighborhood laundromats and the labor that is associated with them. Filmmaker Lynne Sachs in attendance.
2018, 44 min, 2018, Documentary
Screening with: “I Am Somebody” (Dir. Madeline Anderson)
A short political documentary by Madeline Anderson about black hospital workers on strike in Charleston South Carolina.
1970, 30 min, Documentary
BETTY: THEY SAY I’M DIFFERENT (Dir. Philip Cox)
A creative documentary exploring the extraordinary story of Betty Davis (former wife of Miles Davis) as legendary funk pioneer and a woman who championed the road for all independent female artists who followed.
2017, 54 min, Documentary
THE DREAMER’S FIELD (Dir. Noam Stolerman)
The heartfelt journey of three childhood friends who wish to escape their boring life in the kibbutz and become London’s hottest rock band. THE DREAMER’S FIELD is a bitter-sweet journey of three misplaced and misguided individuals coming to terms with the real world.
2017, 65 min, Documentary
MILFORD GRAVES FULL MANTHIS (Dir. Jake Meginsky)
The first ever feature-length portrait of renowned percussionist Milford Graves, exploring his kaleidoscopic creativity and relentless curiosity.
2018, 95 min, Documentary
MR. SOUL! (Dirs. Melissa Haizlip, Samuel D. Pollard)
Before Oprah, Before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL! Ellis Haizlip makes television broadcast history with SOUL!, America’s first “black Tonight Show.” Featuring archival footage of James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Sidney Poitier, Patti LaBelle, Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight, Harry Belafonte, among others. Filmmaker Melissa Haizlip in attendance.
2018, 90 min, Documentary
MEMPHIS MAJIC (Dir. Eddie Bailey)
A riveting in-depth look at the city of Memphis through the lens of a 30 year old Memphis-born street dance called “Jookin’.” Filmmaker Eddie Bailey in attendance.
2018, 72 min, Documentary
NEGRO TERROR: THE VOICE OF MEMPHIS (Dir. John Rash) – World Premiere
A cinematic and musical portrait of a punk band’s role in the vibrant and eclectic underground music community of Memphis, TN. Filmmaker John Rash in attendance; Negro Terror to play live score during the film.
2018, 54 min, Documentary
WAITING: THE VAN DUREN STORY (Dir. Greg Carey, Wade Jackson) – World Premiere
In the 1970’s, out of the Memphis-Big Star scene came Van Duren, who was tipped to be the next Paul McCartney but instead faded into obscurity. Forty years later, two Australian friends come across his record and set out to discover what went wrong. Filmmakers Greg Carey and Wade Jackson and subject Van Duren in attendance.
2018, 80 min, Documentary
RUKUS (Dir. Brett Hanover)
A hybrid of documentary and fiction, RUKUS is a queer coming-of-age story set in the liminal spaces of furry conventions, southern punk houses, and virtual worlds. Filmmaker Brett Hanover in attendance.
2018, 87 min, Drama/LGBTQ
CABIN BOY with Chris Elliott (Dir. Adam Resnick)
A fancy lad (Chris Elliott) en route to Hawaii meets unfriendly fishermen when he mistakenly boards their boat The Filthy Whore instead of a cruise ship to Hawaii. Star Chris Elliott in attendance.
1994, 81 min, Comedy
Classic Picks with Boots Riley:
BRAZIL (Dir. Terry Gilliam)
Low-level bureaucrat Sam Lowry (Jonathan Pryce) investigates a case that led to the wrongful arrest and eventual death of an innocent man instead of wanted terrorist Harry Tuttle (Robert De Niro), and gets caught in a web of mistaken identities, mindless bureaucracy and lies. Introduced by filmmaker Boots Riley (“Sorry to Bother You”).
1985, 143 min, Science Fiction
Hong Sang-soo Recent Retro:
Grass (2018, 66 min)
In a small Café, Min-hee Kim plays a guest who prefers to observe but not interact with the other guests herself.
The Day After (2017, 92 min)
When a woman discovers a love poem that was written for her husband, she mistakenly believes that the author is her husband’s new secretary.
On the Beach at Night Alone (2017, 101 min)
After a publicized affair with her director, an actress leaves South Korea and goes to Hamburg, where she gains insight into the meanings of love and identity.
My First Film: Live Cinema w/ Zia Anger
Anger will offer live-commentary on previously unseen work, by way of a split screen and text edit, as she attempts to recount the stories behind her lost and abandoned work–including her first feature–and her struggles in an industry often hostile to women filmmakers.
Southern Documentary Fund Presents Fresh Docs: Black Genius
A free, work-in-progress screening of film by Memphis native Kalimah Abioto, who explores the brilliance of Memphis’ people while also confronting gentrification. This portrait of various Memphis black leaders will be presented by the director, and will be followed by a discussion.
Southern Food & Music (Dir. Les Blank + Southern Foodways Shorts)
From a Labor Day barbeque in Northern Mississippi with drummer Otha Turner to farm cooking with Texas musician Mance Lipscomb, from Louisiana Cajun cuisine to an award winning pastry chef in Alabama, and even a factory farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, this collection of short films by legendary documentarian Les Blank and Ava Lowrey (Southern Foodways) explores the intersection of music and food in the South.
Blues Legend Otha Turner’s Truly Southern Barbecue (Ava Lowrey, 2016, 6 min)
A Well Spent Life (Les Blank, 1971, 44 min)
Yum! Yum! Yum! A Taste of Cajun and Creole Cooking of Louisiana (Les Blank, 1990, 31 min)
Dol (Ava Lowrey, 2018, 6 min)
Chicken Real (Les Blank, 1970, 23 min)
WANDA (Dir. Barbara Loden)
This 1970 independent film was written and directed by actress Barbara Loden, who also plays the title role. Wanda is an abused woman who turns to a life of crime, where she finds more abuse from men. Loden stated she was inspired to write it after reading a newspaper report that a woman had thanked a judge after he sentenced her to prison. Introduced by filmmaker and actress Amy Seimetz (Showtime’s “The Girlfriend Experience”).
1970, 102 min, Drama