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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“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
James Gray

“I’m an unusual producer because I control the destiny of a lot of the films I’ve done. Most of them are in perfect states of restoration and preservation and distribution, and I aim to keep them in distribution. HanWay Films, which is my sales company, has a 500-film catalogue, which is looked after and tended like a garden. I’m still looking after my films in the catalogue and trying to get other people to look after their films, which we represent intellectually, to try to keep them alive. A film has to be run through a projector to be alive, unfortunately, and those electric shadows are few and far between now. It’s very hard to go and see films in a movie house. I was always involved with the sales and marketing of my films, right up from The Shout onwards. I’ve had good periods, but I also had a best period because the film business was in its best period then. You couldn’t make The Last Emperor today. You couldn’t make The Sheltering Sky today. You couldn’t make those films anymore as independent films. There are neither the resources nor the vision within the studios to go to them and say, “I want to make a film about China with no stars in it.”Then, twenty years ago, I thought, “OK, I’m going to sell my own films but I don’t want to make it my own sales company.” I wanted it to be for me but I wanted to make it open for every other producer, so they don’t feel that they make a film but I get the focus. So, it’s a company that is my business and I’m involved with running it in a certain way, but I’m not seen as a competitor with other people that use it. It’s used by lots of different producers apart from me. When I want to use it, however, it’s there for me and I suppose I’m planning to continue making all my films to be sold by HanWay. I don’t have to, but I do because it’s in my building and the marketing’s here, and I can do it like that. Often, it sounds like I’m being easy about things, but it’s much more difficult than it sounds. It’s just that I’ve been at it for a long time and there’s lots of fat and security around my business. I know how to make films, but it’s not easy—it’s become a very exacting life.”
~ Producer Jeremy Thomas