There are a multitude of film festivals for filmmakers to submit to, what does the Oxford Film Festival offer to try and stand out from the crowd?
We really focus on the filmmaker experience from both having a good time at our festival and networking to making sure they get the tools they need to make more movies. I am not sure that stands out as I think every festival should be doing just that and hopefully is!
You introduced an LGBT strand to show your support to the LGBT community after a new piece of state legislation that appears to be discriminatory. What sort of reaction did you receive from your show of support, if any?
We received a ton of generous positive support which was lovely and overwhelming. We also received some negative feedback from people who I guess have issues with supporting diverse voices.
This will be your 14th annual festival. How has the festival developed from it’s conception?
Some things have stayed the same which is strong support from the local community and eager audiences that fill the theaters. But we have grown both in our programming and also size. We tripled our budget in 2 years, doubled submissions and attendance continues to steadily grow.
When people think of ‘Oxford’, they usually think of the famous University town in England. Has your film festival helped to make people aware of Oxford in Mississippi, and how many non-residents visit and attend the film festival?
It is no joke. We still get 20-50 submissions a year that literally have no idea we are not in England. We even added that we are in the USA to every social media outlet, our website and FilmFreeway, and we even tried to talk to the new Oxford England film festival to ensure we’re distinct enough from one another.
We often have filmmakers learn more about Mississippi from submitting to or visiting our festival. Many of our guests come for the first time. It’s wonderful to be able to help shape new concepts of what Mississippi is for many people, some of which are nervous at first to attend. Like anywhere else, Mississippi is made up of a diverse group of people and it’s more than what you see in the movies. I would say that about 30-50% of our attendees are from out of town, others from the region, some from across the US.
Why should filmmakers submit their films to Oxford Film Festival 2018?
I would hope filmmakers consider adding us to the watchlist on FilmFreeway for when we open in May for a few reasons. We’re always looking for great films and we are three years running on the top 50 list from Moviemaker for festivals worth the entry fee. We also have some great prizes for many of our awards, and our statuette was made by well-known sculptor Bill Beckwith. That’s pretty cool to own if you win here. Also, our jury is made up of some great film industry people and your film is seen by hungry audiences. Furthermore, many other festivals from the south visit ours and look for programming so MANY films get invited to play elsewhere.
A special thanks to Melanie Addington, Executive Director of Oxford Film Festival, for taking part in this interview. To find out more about the festival, check out their website.