By Ray Pride Pride@moviecitynews.com

Kim Voynar, Mark Rabinowitz Named Programmers Of Oxford Film Fest

The Oxford Film Festival today appointed long-time staff member Melanie Addington as its Executive Director and named its programming team for the 2016 edition, to be lead by veteran industry fixtures Mark Rabinowitz and Kim Voynar as documentary and narrative feature head programmers, respectively. The 13th edition of the festival is set to unspool February 18-21, 2016.

Addington has been with the festival in various positions since 2005, working her way up from volunteer to volunteer coordinator, to assistant director and subsequently serving as co-director since 2008 before becoming the well-regarded organization’s Executive Director for the 2016 edition. “I have always been passionate about independent film, storytelling and Mississippi,” said Addington, “and this gives me a chance to really showcase all three. I’m excited to take on this new leadership position as we focus on growing the festival both during the February event and in terms of year-round programming.” Addington also serves as the President of the Mississippi Film & Video Alliance.

Kim Voynar, Narrative Features Programmer

Kim Voynar, Narrative Features Programmer

The festival is a key date on the busy Oxford cultural calendar, having hosted such notables as James Franco, Morgan Freeman, Jason Ritter, Elvis Mitchell, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, Ray McKinnon and Tim Blake Nelson.

Voynar comes to the Oxford Festival with over a decade of experience as a critic and industry analyst for Movie City News, Cinematical, Indiewire.com, Variety and others, adding director/producer to her resume in 2010, with current activities including live-action and animated projects with avant-garde musical group The Residents and an episodic TV series with Will Calhoun of hard rockers Living Colour.

Mark Rabinowitz, Documentary Features Programmer

Mark Rabinowitz, Documentary Features Programmer

Rabinowitz is a co-founder of the seminal indie film news service Indiewire.com and has been a journalist for twenty years, including service as a critic for CNN.com, Screen Daily, Paste Magazine and Alternative Press. He has attended over 175 film festivals as a critic, producer and staff, including serving as a programmer and industry liaison at the Hamptons International Film Festival and has served on festival juries in Edinburgh, Montreal, Denver, Nashville and Oxford. As a producer, he has projects in development with producer Darren Dean (TangerineKinyarwanda) and writers/producers Jon Cryer & Richard Schenkman and heads the film department at LA-based publicity & marketing firm PMG.

Today, OFF announces its call for entries for next year’s Festival in all programming categories. Entries are accepted through November 15, 2015 at Film Freeway (https://filmfreeway.com/festival/OxfordFilmFestival). Due to its calendar position following Sundance, Oxford has had the benefit of hosting the regional premieres of many notable films, including James Franco’s two William Faulkner adaptations (The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying), Chad Hartigan’s This Is Martin Bonner, and Paul Saltzman’s Prom Night in Mississippi.

Oxford’s full programming team includes: Mary Margaret Andrews and Courtney Hall on documentary shorts, Newt Rayburn on music videos, Deborah Barker on Mississippi narratives, Maggie Woodward on Mississippi documentaries, Michelle Emanuel on animation and Brooke White on experimental films.

The incoming OFF Board of Directors is comprised of long-time festival supporters, including the executive director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council Wayne Andrews (President), former SVP of Production for MGM Television Hudson Hickman, and writer/producer Chris Offutt (True Blood, Weeds, Treme).

About the Festival

The Oxford Film Festival was founded in 2003 to bring exciting, new and unusual films (and the people who create them) to North Mississippi. The annual four-day festival screens short and feature-length films in both showcase and competition settings, including narrative and documentary features and shorts; Mississippi narratives, documentaries and music videos, and narrative, documentary, animated and experimental shorts. The festival is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. For more information, visit www.oxfordfilmfest.com

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“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook