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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

OFF11 Dispatch

It’s been a busy-busy couple days here at the Oxford Film Festival, but taking a few minutes before getting ready for tonight’s big awards ceremony to catch up with some notes on how the fest is going this year. We got in Thursday night after a long day of no sleep and delayed travel, at some dinner with Jen Yamato, Todd Gilchrist and James Rocchi at Boure, one of the many Oxford restaurants owned by terrific chef — and even more terrific fest patron — John Currance.

And speaking of fest sponsors:

You cannot — and I mean CANNOT — operate a successful regional fest without the financial support of local patrons, both business and individual. I’m not saying the OFF folks don’t have to bust the proverbial hump to fund raise because I know they do. But you do not just build an awesome regional fest like Oxford off of wishes and good intentions, it takes money.

From the Malco Theater that hosts the screenings, to government support from the Oxford Convention and Visitors Bureau to indivdual Super Patrons like the lovely, charming Donna Ruth Roberts (my Oxford adoptive grandma, who is so lovely and charming and delightful that I come here every year, in part, just to be graced by her presence), chef John Currence, to Rock Star Taxi, this year’s transportation provider, to countless individuals and businesses who support this fest year after year, I want to say this: Sponsors are a huge part of the reason that Oxford Film Festival is not just a name in Oxford, but is getting nationally known in the indie film and indie journalism world. Your support makes that happen. This fest does not even have an airline partner, but they manage to fly filmmakers and other guests in, put them up in local hotels, feed us incredibly and non-stop with good Southern cooking, and generally make us all feel so welcome in their town.

Anyhow. So Friday morning we had the jury breakfast to determine winners in the various categories. I am jurying docs this year here along with Michael Rose and Skizz Cyzkyk, and our deliberations were interesting and energetic and Arik, our jury wrangler, did not have to intervene to prevent bloodshed this year, and no mud wrestling was involved in determining the winner of the docs competition.

I also had the privilege yesterday of moderating the Q&A at the sneak preview of Where I Begin, a film directed by Thomas L. Philips, whose underseen Rattle Basket I greatly enjoyed a couple years ago. The script was co-written by my good friend Melanie Addington (who’s one of the co-directors of the fest), and Thomas and Melanie asked me (along with a few other industry folks) to look over their script in earlier iterations and provide feedback.

This was my first time seeing the finished result, and while I can’t say much in the way of reviewing the film because I am too close to the project, I will say that the audience was completely packed, and response was overwhelmingly positive, which made me incredibly happy for al involved. It’s a stellar, truly indie film made for a very small budget, but the writing was strong enough to attract folks like Lance E. Nichols (THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON and much, much more) and Johnny McPhail (BALLAST) to the project. I was so pleased for all involved that response to the film was so very positive.

Friday night was all about the social side of the fest, which here at Oxford is an important component. Dinner at my beloved Ajax Diner, which would totally be my secret boyfriend if it was a person and not a diner, was procured, and so many Oxford Fest guests where on-hand there that I barely sat down long enough to eat my scrumptious meatloaf (stuffed with CHEESE, people) served with obligatorily Southern sides of squash casserole and turnip greens. Heaven on a plate, mmmmm.

Then we headed a couple doors down to attend the Friday night party at Roosters, which featured — and I am not making this up — blues legend T Model Ford. Much dancing ensued at the front of the stage, and the more alcohol people consumed, the looser folks got about getting out on the dance floor to get down. T Model Ford’s catchphrase is, “It’s Jack Daniels time!” and he does not mean that metaphorically. It was one of those “once in a lifetime” things that tends to happen at this fest, which is partly what makes Oxford great.

Speaking of once-in-a-lifetime action, the late-late night event Friday night was a trip to Graceland Too, which 10 of us bravely embarked upon. Too much for this post, but look for a whole separate post and a photo gallery coming on this.
Also coming: The fest awards. Woo-hoo! But first, the farewell breakfast at John Currence’s City Grocery, catered, I hear, by John Currences Big Bad Breakfast. No doubt, there will be cheese grits and biscuits involved. More yum. I don’t leave Oxford until tomorrow, so more later today to wrap things up.

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“We don’t have any idea what the universe is. Wise people have always told us that this is proof you shouldn’t think, because thinking leads you nowhere. You just build over this huge construction of misunderstanding, which is culture. The history of culture is the history of the misunderstandings of great thinkers. So we always have to go back to zero and begin differently. And maybe in that way you have a chance not to understand but at least not to have further misunderstandings. Because this is the other side of this question—Am I really so brave to cancel all human culture? To stop admiring the beauty in human production? It’s very difficult to say no.”
~ László Krasznahorkai

“I have a license to carry in New York. Can you believe that? Nobody knows that, [Applause] somebody attacks, somebody attacks me, oh, they’re gonna be shot. Can you imagine? Somebody says, oh, it is Trump, he’s easy pickings what do you say? Right? Oh, boy. What was the famous movie? No. Remember, no remember where he went around and he sort of after his wife was hurt so badly and kill. What?  I — Honestly, Yeah, right, it’s true, but you have many of them. Famous movie. Somebody. You have many of them. Charles Bronson right the late great Charles Bronson name of the movie come on.  , remember that? Ah, we’re gonna cut you up, sir, we’re gonna cut you up, uh-huh.


One of the great movies. Charles Bronson, great, Charles Bronson. Great movies. Today you can’t make that movie because it’s not politically correct, right? It’s not politically correct. But could you imagine with Trump? Somebody says, oh, all these big monsters aren’t around he’s easy pickings and then shoot.”
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