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 don’t really believe in guilty pleasures. I like to subscribe to Susan Sontag’s thought of no highs and lows. I think dismissing popular culture and popular films can be really dangerous because they may seem innocuous, but some are works of art and even when they’re not they can say so much about the culture that they’re reflecting. This also gets into the idea of canon. What is good and isn’t good? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Specifically, who writes these canons? Mainly, straight white guys — which basically rigs the system. So, if you have a knowledge of female filmmakers, queer filmmakers, African or Asian filmmakers, some people won’t give them the same culture capital. They’ll say, “Oh, that’s nice niche knowledge.” No, it’s not. You’re just seeing it through the prism of something white and male. Like Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Scandal.’ I love that show, but is it a guilty pleasure because it’s a soap on TV? No. I think it has incredible writing, incredible thought and characters, so we should take it seriously. That’s a long-winded answer to say, “Yes, I love Titanic.” I was 10 years old when it came out and my mom took me to see it three times. I was so obsessed with it. A big thanks to my mom who’ll never get those nine hours of her life back.”
~ Toronto Int’l Programmer and Critic Kiva Reardon

“A lot of us felt blindsided,” Van Vliet told me. In the seventies, Van Vliet was drafted out of film school by Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked on The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now 62 and semi-retired, he said, “Once you get into your fifties, you’re pretty disposable.” Van Vliet was in the middle of reviewing DVD screeners before casting his Oscar votes, a process he estimated would take a hundred and twenty hours. “The Academy is essentially asking us to give them three weeks of labor, and then they’re going to take our results, put them into a ceremony, and sell it,” he said, referring to the seventy-five million dollars that the organization earns from the television broadcast. “Then they’re turning around and kicking us in the teeth.”
~ “Shakeup At The Oscars”