Indie Memphis Film Festival 2021 announced the full slate of films for this year’s edition set to run as a hybrid of online and in-person screenings and events from October 20th – 25th, 2021.
The Opening Night film is Sean Baker’s Cannes favorite Red Rocket, starring Simon Rex as a pornstar who returns to his Texas hometown that barely tolerates him, the Centerpiece Presentation is Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s Drive My Car, and the Closing Night is Pablo Larrain’s Spencer. Some additional standout titles include Robert Greene’s Procession, a documentary about a group of survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests battle for justice, and Rhayne Vermette’s Ste. Anne, a drama that traces an allegorical reclamation of land through personal, symbolic and historical sites.
The 2021 festival also features work from up-and-coming filmmakers, as well as festival hits such as Jonas Carpignano’s A Chiara, Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, Penny Lane’s Listening to Kenny G, Céline Sciamma’s Petite Maman, and many more.
The festival also features exciting premieres, such as the World Premiere of Andrew Infante’s Ferny & Luca. The film is a look into the on-and-off relationship between Ferny, a sweet and naive pretty boy, and Luca, a rough and tumble disco queen, who is more concerned with chasing her dreams than chasing boys. There’s also the World Premiere of Jenny Perlin’s Bunker, a documentary that investigates the lonely lives of American men who have decided to live in decommissioned military bunkers and nuclear missile silos, and follows the process of building and selling these structures to the wealthy and not-so-wealthy alike.
“We’re honored to be introducing these titles to Memphis audiences,” said Indie Memphis Artistic Director Miriam Bale. “I’m confident many of these are classics that will be talked about for a long time to come. We aim to have a collection of films that is winnowed down to the best of year, and I think this line-up reflects that.”
The festival continues to feature live music performed in the theaters before every screening. The Black Creators Forum also returns for a fourth year, this time in a hybrid format, both online and with an outdoor in-person component. This festival programming continues to reflect diversity in all areas, with a special focus on films from the African Diaspora and Africa. Indie Memphis is privileged to present the North American premiere of Juju Stories, an anthology film from the Nigerian new wave cinema collective known as Surreal16, after its World Premiere at Locarno.
2021 Indie Memphis Film Festival Slate
RED ROCKET (Dir. Sean Baker)
In a magnetic, live-wire performance, Simon Rex plays a pornstar who returns to his Texas hometown that barely tolerates him.
2021, 128 min, Drama, Theater
DRIVE MY CAR (Dir. Ryûsuke Hamaguchi)
Adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story in which an aging actor can no longer drive, so he hires a quiet 20-year-old girl as his chauffeur.
2021, 179 min, Drama, Theater
SPENCER (Dir. Pablo Larraín)
An imagining of one weekend in the life of Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart), as she spends the Christmas holiday with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, and decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles.
2021, 101 min, Drama, Theater
FERNY & LUCA (Dir. Andrew Infante) – WORLD PREMIERE
A look into the on-and-off relationship between Ferny, a sweet and naive pretty boy, and Luca, a rough and tumble disco queen, who is more concerned with chasing her dreams than chasing boys… mostly.
2021, 70 min, Drama, Theater/Virtual
JUJU STORIES (Dirs. Abba Makama, C.J. ‘Fiery’ Obasi, Michael Omonua) – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE
A three-part anthology film exploring juju (magical) stories rooted in Nigerian folklore and urban legend, written and directed by the Nigerian new wave cinema collective known as Surreal16.
2021, 84 min, Drama/Fantasy/Horror
THE PILL (Dir. Franco Clarke)
An African-American family indulges in the use of a secret pill that helps them cope with their day-to-day stressors of racism outside of their home.
2021, 81 min, Comedy, Theater/Virtual
WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR (Dir. Jane Schoenbrun)
Reality and fantasy begin to blur when a teen immerses herself in a role-playing horror game online.
2021, 86 min, Drama/Horror, Theater/Virtual
QUEEN OF GLORY (Dir. Nana Mensah)
Ghanaian-American Sarah is all set to abandon her Ivy League doctoral program to follow her married lover across the country. Her plans are derailed, however, when her mother’s sudden death leaves her the owner of a neighborhood bookshop in the Bronx.
2021, 75 min, Comedy/Drama, Theater
LARRY FLYNT FOR PRESIDENT (Dir. Nadia Szold)
Assembled from never before seen footage shot in 1983, this film documents controversial Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt’s unlikely bid for the White House after a gunman’s bullet left him partially paralyzed.
2021, 90 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
ONE OF OURS (Dir. Yasmine Mathurin)
After a Haitian-born youth is racially profiled at an Indigenous basketball tournament, he wrestles with his shaken sense of belonging in his Indigenous adoptive family while attempting to heal from his past.
2021, 88 min, Documentary, Virtual/Theater
WE STILL HERE (Dir. Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi)
An introduction to the incredible youth activists of Comerío, Puerto Rico, who navigate the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a disaster that brought an unprecedented level of devastation to an island already in economic and political crisis.
2021, 100 min, Documentary, Virtual
YOU DON’T KNOW ME (Dir. Jon Kent)
A documentary film about Tennessee death row inmate Abu-Ali ‘Abdur Rahman and the celebrated attorney and justice system that failed him following one of Nashville’s most notorious crimes.
2020, 100 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
A CHIARA (Dir. Jonas Carpignano)
A 15-year-old girl doggedly searches for the truth behind her adored father’s sudden abandonment in Calabria.
2021, 121 min, Drama, Theater/Virtual
C’MON C’MON (Dir. Mike Mills)
Johnny (Joaquin Phoenix) and his young nephew (Woody Norman) forge a tenuous but transformational relationship when they are unexpectedly thrown together in this delicate and deeply moving story about the connections between adults and children, the past and the future.
2021, 108 min, Drama, Theater
MEMORIA (Dir. Apichatpong Weerasethaku)
From the extraordinary mind of Palme D’or winning director Apichatpong Weerasethakul, and starring Academy Award-winner Tilda Swinton, comes a meditative mystery about a Scottish woman who begins experiencing a mysterious sensory syndrome while traversing the jungles of Colombia.
2021, 136 min, Drama, Theater
PETITE MAMAN (Dir. Céline Sciamma)
8-year-old Nelly has just lost her beloved grandmother and is helping her parents clean out her mother’s childhood home. While exploring the surrounding woods where her mother used to play, she meets another little girl who seems eerily familiar. Nelly’s new friend takes her to a house that is a mirror of her own.
2021, 72 min, Drama, Theater/Virtual
I WAS A SIMPLE MAN (Dir. Christopher Makoto Yogi)
As Masao (Steve Iwamoto) gets sicker, he is visited by ghosts of his past, including his wife, Grace (Constance Wu), who helps shepherd him into the beyond. Merging dream, family history, romantic period piece, all bridged by gently psychedelic observations of nature.
2021, 101 min, Drama, Virtual
One of the most daring and moving films of the year! You won’t want to miss this.
2021, 142 min, Theater
ALIEN ON STAGE (Dirs. Danielle Kummer and Lucy Harvey)
Bus Drivers from Dorset, England stage a homemade homage of Ridley Scott’s ALIEN, with special effects needing “more luck than judgement.”
2021, 86 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
FLEE (Dir. Jonas Poher Rasmussen)
Recounted mostly through animation to director Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Amin Nawabi tells of his extraordinary journey as a child refugee from Afghanistan.
2021, 90 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
MAURICE HINES: BRING THEM BACK (Dir. John Carluccio)
An intimate portrait of an outspoken showman who with humor and grace navigates the highs and lows of a seven-decade career, and a complex relationship with his superstar brother, Gregory Hines.
2021, 95 min, Documentary, Virtual
THE MUSHROOM SPEAKS (Dir. Marion Neumann)
A film about the fungal reign explores the theme of renewal, and questions what connects us when the world seems to be falling apart.
2021, 89 min, Documentary, English, VirtuaL
SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS (Dir. Lisa Rovner)
Beautifully narrated by Laurie Anderson, this documentary is about electronic music’s women pioneers, including Clara Rockmore, Daphne Oram, Bebe Barron, Pauline Oliveros, Delia Derbyshire, Maryanne Amacher, Eliane Radigue, Suzanne Ciani, and Laurie Spiegel.
2021, 86 min, Documentary, Virtual
Films That Depart from Expectations
BUNKER (Dir. Jenny Perlin) – WORLD PREMIERE
The debut feature film of renowned filmmaker Jenny Perlin investigates the lonely lives of American men who have decided to live in decommissioned military bunkers and nuclear missile silos, and follows the process of building and selling these structures to the wealthy and not-so-wealthy alike.
2021, 92 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
MANY FIRES THIS TIME WE THE 100 MILLION (Dir. Jason R.A. Foster)
A poetic docudrama about the 1 in 3 Americans living in economic insecurity. It follows the journey of poet and activist A Scribe Called Quess? as he connects with fellow activist poets and the communities they represent from Oakland to Chicago to Kentucky to his hometown of New Orleans.
2021, 70 min, Documentary, Virtual
NORTH BY CURRENT (Dir. Angelo Madsen Minax)
A family death spurs a first-person study on the nature of grief, time, and origins.
2021, 86 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
PROCESSION (Dir. Robert Greene)
A group of survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests battle for justice.
2021, 119 min, Documentary, Theater
STE. ANNE (Dir. Rhayne Vermette)
Shot over the course of two years, Ste. Anne traces an allegorical reclamation of land through personal, symbolic and historical sites all across Treaty 1 Territory, heartland of the Métis Nation.
2021, 80 min, Drama, Virtual
Films That Celebrate Music
ELDER’S CORNER (Dir. Siji Awoyinka)
ELDER’S CORNER is a historical music documentary showcasing the lives and work of Nigeria’s pioneering musicians.
2021, 97 min, Documentary, Theater/VirtuaL
LISTENING TO KENNY G (Dir. Penny Lane)
Penny Lane’s documentary takes a witty and provocative look at the easy-listening saxophonist’s story while asking: what makes music good or bad?
2021, 97 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHE (Dirs. Celeste Bell and Paul Sng)
The life and work of X-Ray Spex singer-songwriter and punk icon Poly Styrene is explored by her daughter in this dynamic yet delicate personal film. There are also explorations of Styrene’s identity as a half-Somali woman in the largely white punk scene.
2021, 96 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
REZ METAL (Dir. Ashkan Soltani Stone)
A documentary about the metal band I Don’t Konform and the vibrant heavy metal scene throughout the Navajo reservation.
2021, 75 min, Documentary, Virtual
Films From Memphis Filmmakers
A BALLET SEASON (Dirs. David Goodman, Steven J. Ross)
A year in the life of Ballet Memphis, a southern dance organization dedicated to putting diversity on the stage while challenging preconceptions about regional ballet. This predominantly observational documentary follows the many individuals and artists who collaborate together as a community over the course of a dizzying pre-pandemic season (2018-2019).
2021, 56 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
THE LUCKY ELEVEN (Dir. George Tillman)
A group of eleven young men from the south side of Memphis began their journey in Jr High and made their way to the NFL.
2021, 66 min, Documentary, Theater/Virtual
KILLER (Dir. A.D. Smith, 90 min)
After a pandemic strikes the nation, ten friends decide to quarantine under the same roof. Unfortunately, one of them is a killer.
2021, Horror, Theater/Virtual
LIFE AIN’T LIKE THE MOVIES (Dir. Robert Butler)
An awkward 16 year old black teen comes of age and learns about love, bullying, tragedy and how to connect to his father who he’s extremely different from.
2021, Drama, Theater/Virtual
REEL ROCK: BLACK ICE (Dirs. Peter Mortimer & Zachary Barr)
A crew of aspiring ice climbers from the Memphis Rox gym travels to the frozen wilds of Montana, where mentors Manoah Ainuu, Conrad Anker and Fred Campbell share their love of winter adventure in the mountains.
2021, 45 min, Virtual/Theater
CHAMELEON STREET (Dir. Wendell B. Harris Jr.)
In this seminal work in African-American independent film, William Douglas Street is bored with his life. Working for his father is getting to him, his wife wants more money, and he’s had enough. His solution is to re-invent himself. He becomes a chameleon, taking on whatever role suits the situation.
1989, 94 min, Comedy/Drama, Theater
DEEP BLUES (Dir. Robert Mugge)
Music critic Robert Palmer narrates the insightful story of Delta blues and North Mississippi hill country blues.
1992, 91 min, Documentary, Theater
RADIO ON (Dir. Chris Petit)
Set in 1970’s Britain, a man drives from London to Bristol to investigate his brother’s death. The purpose of his trip is offset by his encounters with a series of odd people.
1979, 104 min, Drama, Theater
Don Meyers Memorial Retrospective
A collection of some of the notable films by actor, filmmaker, artist, and Memphis legend, Don Meyers.
2021, 180 min, Theater