Lights, Camera, Action: Oxford Film Festival Returns

18th annual event brings more than 200 movies to community

‘The Long Haul,’ a three-minute short film directed by Ole Miss student Maggie Bushway, is among the entries in this year’s Oxford Film Festival. Submitted photo

OXFORD, Miss. – The Oxford Film Festival is returning this year with an ambitious hybrid format and plenty of movie magic for all to enjoy.

The popular festival, which will be held March 24-28 and throughout the month of April, will take place in an open-air outdoor theater and a drive-in, and will include virtual presentations. The premiere-rich schedule projects close to 30 world premieres, five U.S. premieres, more than 60 Mississippi premieres and 40 regional premieres.

The festival shifted from being an in-person/in-theater event to being virtual and at the drive-in because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the past year, the Oxford Film Festival has provided films both online and at two drive-in locations.

Energized by the addition of new program director Donna Kosloskie and new narrative features programmer Greta Hagen-Richardson, the OFF will follow the success of its virtual and pop-up drive-in innovations in 2020 by adding more films, nearly tripling its LGBTQIA+ features, expanding the music video category and increasing the award monies for all the filmmaker competitions this year.

Melanie Addington, OFF executive director, prepares year-round for the event. The festival brings the Oxford and University of Mississippi communities together to showcase artists and filmmakers and offers a chance for the community to engage with them.

‘Mending Mittie’s Tomb,’ among the entries in this year’s Oxford Film Festival, is a short film directed by Ole Miss alumnus Jonathan Smith. Smith, a documentary filmmaker, is film equipment manager for the UM Department and Theatre and Film. Submitted photo

“As we continue to prepare for next month’s film festival, we want to be very clear about the aggressive steps we are taking in order to make our film festival safe so our patrons can begin to get back to enjoying the moviegoing experience in the company of other people again,” Addington said. “Therefore, we are being very careful with a measured approach utilizing the open-air theater we have designed specifically for this purpose, with safety always first so we all can enjoy one of the best group of films we have ever had this year.

“We have spent the past year safely providing films via drive-in and will include that experience in this year’s festival. We will monitor COVID and weather concerns and will make changes as needed closer to the event.”

The festival was created in 2003 by the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and transitioned to a nonprofit organization in 2008. It celebrates film, the range of stories that can be shared through the medium and the diversity of those who love the art.

Addington teaches Cine 396: Festival Programming at the university, which prepares the students for the festival. They also learn how to develop their work and navigate film festivals.

Ole Miss students and recent graduates have submitted several entries this year. These include:

  • “The Long Haul,” a three-minute short film directed by Ole Miss student Maggie Bushway
  • “Genderf*ck Drag,” a five-minute short film directed by alumna Christina Huff
  • “Mending Mittie’s Tomb,” a nine-minute short film directed by alumnus Jonathan Smith, a documentary filmmaker and film equipment manager for the Department and Theatre and Film
  • “Crimson Spectre – Union Made Guillotine,” a two-minute short film directed by John Rash, an instructional assistant professor with the university’s Southern Documentary Project

Films by Mississippi filmmakers in this year’s festival are:

  • ‘Mississippi Yearning,’ an entry in this year’s Oxford Film Festival, is a short directed by Mississippi filmmaker Marcus Black. Submitted photo

    “Mississippi Yearning,” a four-minute short film directed by Marcus Black

  • “They Found Me: Vengeance,” a 70-minute feature film directed by Bill Perry
  • “The Space We Make,” a 13-minute film directed by Tucker Robbins
  • “Dress to Impress,” a four-minute short film directed by Collin Surbeck

Several other events are hosted on campus, and many are free for UM faculty, staff and students. For the full list of events, click here.