The 2019 Indie Memphis Film Festival spanning from October 30th to November 4th, 2019, features work from up-and-coming filmmakers, as well as festival hits such as Agnès Varda’s final film VARDA BY AGNÈS and Céline Sciamma’s PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE. This year’s Special Presentations includes Jim Jarmusch in attendance for the 30th Anniversary of his now-classic Memphis-set film MYSTERY TRAIN and a screening of his latest THE DEAD DON’T DIE, with Jarmusch in conversation with The New Yorker’s Richard Brody.
In addition, there will be a Halloween screening of the classic BLACULA (on Halloween) and the Sara Driver Retrospective (and sidebar of Driver’s favorite spooky inspirations) with Driver in attendance, and Memphis native Ira Sachs in attendance for his latest film, FRANKIE.
The Opening Night film is Kasi Lemmons’ HARRIET, based on the thrilling and inspirational life of iconic American freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman.There will also be a very special, can’t-miss Secret Presentation of a much-buzzed-about upcoming release. Rounding out the festival slate are the Narrative and Documentary Competition sections, featuring the World Premiere of Eli Daughdrill’s FAITH, Spotlight Narrative and Documentary sections featuring festival favorites, the Departures section featuring experimental/hybrid films that divert from expectations, the music-centric Sounds section, and the Hometowner section, filled with films by Memphis-based artists.
“Our program this year is full of eccentric characters, and I think Memphis audiences are going to show these films some love,” says Indie Memphis Artistic Director Miriam Bale. “Our narrative films, especially, are dominated by stories told by women directors, especially women of color, as it should be.”
The festival continues to feature live music performed in the theaters before every screening and the annual block party on Cooper Street, which this year will include the return of the band Unapologetic, performing to coincide with the release of their new album Stuntarious IV. Acts performing include AWFM, PreauXX, IMAKEMADBEATS, C Major, Kid Maestro, She’Chinah, Aaron James, Cameron Bethany, and special guests.
2019 Indie Memphis Film Festival Slate
Alphabetical by Category
HARRIET (Dir. Kasi Lemmons)
Based on the thrilling and inspirational life of an iconic American freedom fighter, HARRIET tells the extraordinary tale of Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and transformation into one of America’s greatest heroes — freeing hundreds of slaves while changing the course of history.
2019, 125 min, Drama, English
FAITH (Dir. Eli Daughdrill) – World Premiere
A devout Evangelical Christian struggles with his faith and against the insistent pressures from his family and community after a sudden and unexpected tragedy. Filmmaker Eli Daughdrill in attendance.
2019, 84 min, Drama, English
JEZEBEL (Dir. Numa Perrier)
Two sisters living in Las Vegas encourage each other to explore and exploit their sexuality. Filmmaker Numa Perrier in attendance.
2019, 84 min, Drama, English
LUCKY GRANDMA (Dir. Sasie Sealy)
Set in New York City’s Chinatown, an ornery, chain-smoking Chinese grandma goes all in at the casino, landing herself on the wrong side of luck – and in the middle of a gang war.
2019, 100 min, Comedy/Drama
DE LO MIO (Dir. Diana Peralta)
Three siblings reunite in the Dominican Republic and face their demons as they let go of their last connection to their motherland. Filmmaker Diana Peralta in attendance.
2019, 74 min, Comedy/Drama
NO ORDINARY LOVE (Dir. Chyna Robinson)
Lines between romantic ideals and control become blurred in this romantic thriller through the eyes of two women, abused in different ways by their “loving” husbands — but the escape they seek may be deadly. Filmmaker Chyna Robinson in attendance.
2019, 99 min, Romance/Thriller
BEST BEFORE DEATH (Dir. Paul Duane) – North American Premiere
A glimpse of artist Bill Drummond (at one time a musician in the KLF) over a two-year period during his ambitious 12-year world tour. He works in Lexington, North Carolina, and in Kolkata, India, building beds, baking cakes, making soup and shining shoes.
2019, 93 min, Documentary, English
BORDER SOUTH (Dir. Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana)
To stem the immigration tide, Mexico and the U.S. collaborate to crack down on migrants, forcing them into ever more dangerous territory. Filmmaker Raúl O. Paz-Pastrana in attendance.
2019, 88 min, Documentary, English/Spanish
VISION PORTRAITS (Dir. Rodney Evans)
Through illuminating portraits of three artists: a photographer, a dancer and a writer, the film looks at the ways each artist was affected by the loss of their vision and the ways in which their creative process has changed or adapted.
2019, 78 min, Documentary, English
ATLANTICS (Dir. Mati Diop)
Part drama, part ghost story, Director Mati Diop harnesses fantasy and social relevancy in this haunting tale of love.
2019, 104 min, Drama, French with English Subtitles
CLEMENCY (Dir. Chinonye Chukwu)
Bernadine (Oscar-nominee Alfre Woodard) is a stoic prison warden, but two back-to-back executions put a strain on her marriage, career and convictions. Co-starring Danielle Brooks (“Orange is the New Black”), Richard Schiff (“The West Wing”), and Wendell Pierce (“The Wire”).
2019, 104 min, Drama, English
FRANKIE (Dir. Ira Sachs)
Three generations grappling with a life-changing experience during one day of a vacation in Sintra, Portugal, a historic town known for its dense gardens and fairy-tale villas and palaces. Starring Isabelle Huppert in the title role, with Marisa Tomei, Greg Kinnear, and Brendan Gleeson. Filmmaker Ira Sachs in attendance.
2019, 98 min, Drama, English/French
IN FABRIC (Dir. Peter Strickland)
A lonely divorcee visits a bewitching London department store to find a dress to transform her life. She soon finds a perfect, artery-red gown that unleashes a malevolent, unstoppable curse. With Marianne Jean-Baptiste (SECRETS & LIES), Hayley Squires (I, DANIEL BLAKE), and Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”).
2019, 118 min, Comedy/Horror, English
I WAS AT HOME, BUT… (Dir. Angela Schanelec)
After a 13-year-old disappears for a week and suddenly reappears, his mother and teachers are confronted with existential questions that change their whole view of life.
2019, 75 min, Drama, German with English Subtitles
LITTLE JOE (Dir. Jessica Hausner)
Alice (Emily Beecham, HAIL CAESAR!), a single mother, is a dedicated senior plant breeder at a corporation engaged in developing new species. Against company policy, she takes one home as a gift for her teenage son, Joe (Kit Connor, ROCKETMAN). With Emmy-winner Ben Whishaw (A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL).
2019, 105 min, Drama/Sci-Fi, English
PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE (Dir. Céline Sciamma)
In 1770 the young daughter of a French countess develops a mutual attraction to the female artist commissioned to paint her wedding portrait.
2019, 119 min, Drama, English
SELAH AND THE SPADES (Dir. Tayarisha Poe)
In the closed world of an elite Pennsylvania boarding school, the student body is run by five underground factions. One of these groups is the Spades, which includes Selah (Lovie Simone), Maxxie (Jharrel Jerome), and possibly new student Paloma (Celeste O’Connor).
2019, 97 min, Drama, English
HORROR NOIRE (Dir. Xavier Burgin)
Delving into a century of genre films that by turns utilized, caricatured, exploited, sidelined, and finally embraced them, Horror Noire traces the untold history of Black Americans in Hollywood through their connection to the horror genre. With Jordan Peele (US), Keith David (THEY LIVE), Loretta Devine (WAITING TO EXHALE), Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD), Tony Todd (CANDYMAN), and more. Filmmaker Xavier Burgin in attendance.
2019, 83 min, Documentary, English
MEMPHIS ‘69 (Dir. Joe LaMattina)
A year after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, a group of blues legends came together to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of Memphis, TN. This concert documentary, shot over 3 days in June of 1969, celebrates an American art form that unites us all.
2019, 72 min, Documentary, English
VARDA BY AGNÈS (Dir. Agnès Varda)
An unpredictable documentary from a fascinating storyteller, Agnès Varda’s new feature documentary sheds light on her experience as a director, bringing a personal insight to what she calls “cine-writing.”
2019, 115 min, Documentary, French with English subtitles
THE HOTTEST AUGUST (Dir. Brett Story)
A film about climate change, disguised as a portrait of collective anxiety.
2019, 95 min, Documentary, English
Films That Depart from Expectations
EMPTY METAL (Dir. Adam Khalil, Bayley Sweitzer)
The lives of several people, each inhabiting extreme poles of American social and political consciousness, weave together as each attempts to achieve some kind of forward motion, sometimes in contradiction, and always under the eye of far more controlling powers.
2018, 85 min, Thriller, English
THE WORLD IS FULL OF SECRETS (Dir. Graham Swon)
During a sleepover one night, teenage girls share stories with each other about things that frightened them.
2018, 98 min, Drama/Horror, English
UN FILM DRAMATIQUE (Dir. Éric Baudelaire) – U.S. Premiere
For four years Éric Baudelaire regularly met with students from the film group at Dora Maar middle school in Saint-Denis. Time for them to grow together, time to find the form of a film in which they would be the true subjects: its characters, its authors and its promise.
2019, 114 min, Documentary, French with English Subtitles
Films That Celebrate Music
BAKOSÓ: AFROBEATS OF CUBA feat. Distant Planet (Dir. Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi)
Through stunning visuals and a score created by the founders of the genre, the film shows the technology, culture and landscape that shape the African-Caribbean fusion known as Bakosó.
2019, 49 min, Documentary, English with Spanish Subtitles
THE UNICORN (Dir. Isabelle Dupuis & Tim Geraghty)
Peter Grudzien, creator of The Unicorn LP, the first openly gay country psychedelic album, navigates mental illness and the chaos of his family to ultimately find refuge in the creative world of music. Filmmakers Isabelle Dupuis & Tim Geraghty in attendance.
2019, 92 min, Documentary, English
YOU GAVE ME A SONG: THE LIFE AND MUSIC OF ALICE GERRARD (Dir. Kenny Dalsheimer)
At 84, old-time music pioneer Alice Gerrard performs, teaches, and inspires the next generation while safeguarding memories from her groundbreaking past. Filmmaker Kenny Dalsheimer in attendance.
2019, 80 min, Documentary, English
Films by Memphis Filmmakers
COLD FEET (Dir. Brad Ellis, Allen C. Gardner) – World Premiere
At a rented house, Eddie and his best friends unite for his bachelor party, and a night of soul-searching and ball-busting ensues. The next day, though, a fight for sanity and survival begins when they discover that there’s a ghost inside the house and that there are snipers outside of it, none of whom want the guys to leave. 2019, 82 min, Horror/Comedy, English
THE HUB – Fresh Docs (Dir. Lawrence Matthews) – World Premiere
Documentary following the narrative of a young man recently let go from his low paying warehouse job as he spends his summer navigating Memphis’ job and transportation crisis, among his own personal issues. Screening as a “Fresh Docs” rough cut followed by feedback discussion. Filmmaker Lawrence Matthews in attendance.
2019, 60 min, Documentary, English
HUMANITÊ, THE BELOVED COMMUNITY (Dir. Jim Hanon) – World Premiere
Jazz artist Kirk Whalum was 9 years old when Martin Luther King jr. was assassinated 14 blocks from his home in Memphis Tennessee. In a narrative spanning from his own childhood to the thriving global music scene, Kirk collaborates with other artists on a musical journey.
2019, 68 min, Documentary, English
IN THE ABSENCE (Dir. Jordan Danelz) – World Premiere
A documentary addressing the long term effects of disinvestment in core city neighborhoods and what Memphis is doing about it.
2019, 90 min, Documentary, English
LIL BUCK: REAL SWAN (Dir. Louis Wallecan)
Dancer Lil’ Buck grew up jookin and bucking on the streets of Memphis. After a breathtaking video of him dancing to Camille Saint-Saëns’ “The Swan” accompanied by cellist Yo-Yo Ma went viral, everything changed.
2019, 85 min, Documentary, English
THIS CAN’T BE LIFE (Dir. Jessica Chaney) – World Premiere
Three 30-something sister-friends grapple with making sense of life. Amid career and personal highs and lows, life doesn’t turn out as expected.
2019, 60 min, Drama, English
BLACULA (Dir. William Crain)
During a visit to Transylvania, an African prince (William Marshall) is turned into a vampire by Count Dracula (Charles McCauley) and reawakens in 1970s Los Angeles, leaving a trail of bloodless victims in his wake.
1972, 92 min, Horror, English
MYSTERY TRAIN (Dir. Jim Jarmusch)
Taking place over the course of one evening, three stories collide in a tacky, low-rent Memphis motel dedicated to Elvis Presley, featuring foreign tourists, criminals on the run, and the spirit of the King himself. With Steve Buscemi, Cinqué Lee, Tom Noonan, Vondie Curtis-Hall, and Tom Waits, among others. Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch in attendance.
1989, 110 min, Comedy/Drama, English
THE DEAD DON’T DIE (Dir. Jim Jarmusch)
A star-studded horror comedy featuring an ensemble cast in a raucous, rueful and satirical glimpse at American habits and desires at the end of the world — a comically terrifying state of the nation addressed in a true cinematic original. With Bill Murray, Adam Driver, RZA, Tom Waits, Chloë Sevingny, and Steve Buscemi, among others. Filmmaker Jim Jarmusch in conversation with New Yorker film critic Richard Brody.
2019, 104 min, Comedy/Horror, English
DOWNTOWN 81 (Dir. Edo Bertoglio)
This legendary New York 1980s time capsule stars Jean-Michel Basquiat, with appearances by Debbie Harry, Glenn O’Brien, and Fab 5 Freddy. It was filmed in 1980 and 1981, yet made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2000. Nearly forty years after its production and twenty since its first release, the film has been recently digitally restored.
1981/2000, 75 min, Drama, English
Les Blank and Alice Gerrard Program:
CHULAS FRONTERAS (Dir. Les Blank & Chris Strachwitz)
Celebrates the famed Mexican-American musicians of the borderlands, the migrant farming communities from which they come, the strong family bonds of Tejanos, and the social protest ethos inscribed in their music.
1978, 58 min, Documentary, Spanish/English
“Sprout Wings and Fly” (Dir. Les Blank, Cece Conway, & Alice Gerrard)
A short documentary film about the life of old-time fiddler and banjo player, Tommy Jarrell, a fiddler from North Carolina. (Co-directed by Alice Gerrard, subject of the documentary screening separately, YOU GAVE ME A SONG).
1983, 30 min, Documentary, English
SAY AMEN, SOMEBODY (Dir. George Nierenberg)
Beautiful 4K restoration of one of the most acclaimed music documentaries of all time — a joyous, funny, deeply emotional celebration of African American culture. With live gospel performance by The Sensational Barnes Brothers featuring Wendell Weathers and Greater Purpose.
1982, 100 min, Documentary, English
SARA DRIVER RETROSPECTIVE
All films with Sara Driver in attendance!
BOOM FOR REAL (Dir. Sara Driver)
Sara Driver explores the pre-fame years of the celebrated American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and how New York City, its people, and tectonically shifting arts culture of the late 1970s and ’80s shaped his vision.
2018, 89 min, Documentary, English
SLEEPWALK (Dir. Sara Driver)
A group of Chinese tales have a strange effect on the life of a New York City office worker, when he takes a job translating the old manuscript.
1986, 78 min, Drama/Fantasy, English
WHEN PIGS FLY (Dir. Sara Driver)
Two ghosts help an unwed jazz musician (Alfred Molina) and a bar dancer (Maggie O’Neill) reverse their bad fortune.
1993, 98 min, Comedy, English
YOU ARE NOT I (Dir. Sara Driver)
Sara Driver’s directorial debut — a young woman escapes from a mental hospital during the chaos of a nearby car accident and is driven to her sister’s house in this haunting adaptation of a 1948 short story by Paul Bowles.
1981, 48 min, Drama, English
The Sara Driver retrospective includes two films selected by Driver:
CAT PEOPLE (Dir. Jacques Tourneur)
Simone Simon stars as a Serbian émigré in Manhattan who believes that, because of an ancient curse, any physical intimacy with the man she loves (Kent Smith) will turn her into a feline predator.
1942, 73 min, Horror/Thriller, English
KURONEKO (Dir. Kaneto Shindô)
From director Kaneto Shindô comes a spectacularly eerie twilight tale with a shocking feminist angle, evoked through ghostly special effects and exquisite cinematography to create a poetic and atmospheric horror fable.
1968, 99 min, Drama/Horror, In Japanese with English subtitles
UNDER THE INFLUENCE
BLUE CHIPS (Dir. William Friedkin)
A college basketball coach (Nick Nolte) is forced to break the rules in order to get the players (Shaquille O’Neal, Penny Hardaway, Matt Nover) he needs to stay competitive.
1994, 108 min, Drama, English
SORCERER (Dir. William Friedkin)
Four unfortunate men from different parts of the globe agree to risk their lives transporting gallons of nitroglycerin across dangerous South American jungle. Starring Roy Schneider.
1977, 122 min, Drama/Thriller, English