Executive Director: Melanie Addington
Melanie has worked with the festival since 2006 in various capacities and became Executive Director in August 2015. She also directs, writes, and produces films and serves on the Mississippi Film Alliance as President. She co-founded OxFilm, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council's program to lend equipment to Oxford filmmakers. Contact: melanieaddington [at] oxfordfilmfest.com
Assistant Director: Kayleigh Graham
Kayleigh Graham is a woman of mystery and power whose power is exceeded only by her mystery. When she isn't volunteering for the Oxford Film Festival, she is the facilities coordinator for the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and is on staff at the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts and a board member of Theatre Oxford. Kayleigh is also actively involved in community and professional theatre, including acting, stage managing, and costuming. She lives in Oxford and is a Tom Collins aficionado. Contact at kayleigh[at]oxfordfilmfest.com
Mindy Van Kuren, Operations
Mindy Christine Van Kuren is a transplant to Arkansas via her parents, James and Barbara Van Kuren being stationed here by the United States Air Force when she was in junior high school. She is currently the Director of Development for the nonprofit Film Society of Little Rock (FSLR), Operations Director for the world renowned Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival (HSDFF), was the Assistant Festival Director of the Fantastic Cinema Film Festival, and has attended numerous Film Festivals as a VIP guest, representing the FSLR to explore the inner workings of the festivals, meet filmmakers, attend workshops, and bring back knowledge gained and relationships established to grow the FSLR and the film community of Arkansas as a whole.
When she is not working as a speech language pathologist, on set of a project or coordinating festival events and logistics for the FSLR and HSDFF, Mindy enjoys collaborating, traveling and spending time with the love of her life, actor and USAF pilot (and OFF alum), Zack Ratkovich and the “A-Team”, her talented and beautiful daughters, Avelyn and Andersyn.
Technical Director: Gregory Gray
Since graduating from the University of Memphis with a degree in Filmmaking, Gregory has worked on nationally-released documentaries, feature films and television productions, including 21 Grams, John Grisham’s A Painted House, Respect Yourself : The Stax Record Story and the Netflix docu-series Last Chance U. Gregory is involved with several filmmaking workshops for youth, including one run by The University of Mississippi.
Co-Volunteer Coordinator: Sarah Wadford
2018 will be Sarah's 8th year of volunteering with OXFF. Sarah ended up at Oxford Film Fest after a spontaneous movie night with her husband and hasn’t wanted to leave since. She enjoys time with her husband and 3 kids, cool socks and trying to guess where people are from by their accent. Contact at offvolunteer [@] oxfordfilmfest.com
Co-Volunteer Coordinator: Tyler Nelson
Motivational, laughter-inspiring creative type. Dedicated to my craft, providing an exceptional experience for all guests and customers. Focused and diligent, task and accomplishment driven. I aim to be a culinary artist & work in the field of public relations as my career. All the while praising God through it all.
Publicist: John Wildman
John Wildman is a filmmaker, film publicist, and film journalist and critic. His feature film directorial debut, the grindhouse art-horror thriller THE LADIES OF THE HOUSE was released to critical acclaim in 2015. He was the Senior Publicist for The Film Society of Lincoln Center and FSLC’s New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, and the Chaplin Award Gala, the Director of Press and Public Relations for the American Film Institute as well as the AFI FEST International Film Festival in Hollywood, the DALLAS International Film Festival and several other film festivals around the country. Wildman currently is a host on The Daily Buzz NPR broadcast on Austin's KUT station and writes a column for Festworks.com entitled “Films Gone Wild.” He was formerly a contributor to Film Comment.com and Film Threat and several publications prior to that including Movie City News and Moving Pictures Magazine.com. Contact John at jswildman [@] hotmail.com
Box Office Coordinator: Withrow Newell
Withrow has worked with various film festivals since 2009 in various capacities but, festival ticketing has captured his heart. He believes “a ticket is a receipt for a memory you haven't made yet” and wants that experience to be as smooth as possible. In his free time he likes to watch Netflix and chill.
Assistant Box Office Coordinator: POSITION CURRENTLY OPEN
Jury Wrangler: Arik Sokol
Arik Sokol is a Professional Jury Wrangler who has wrangled all over the southeast. In his spare time, he produces national video work for various clients and practices improv comedy. He is fond of his wife Laurel and his son Ben.
Venues Co-Director: Morgan Tucker
Morgan Tucker is currently attending the University of Mississippi with intentions of graduating with the class of 2019 with degrees in Philosophy and Economics. Within the University, she is an Associated Student Body Senator for the College of Liberal Arts as well as a Global Ambassador. She is originally from North Carolina and moved to Mississippi for college.
Venues Co-Director: Whitney Friday
Whitney is studying Cosmetology with hopes of furthering her makeup career. She has two hometowns, both in Mississippi, Oxford and Jackson. She loves anything and everything pug related.
Screen Manager Coordinator: Whitley O'Neal
Whitley is currently the Master Electrician for the Gertrude C. Ford Center for the Performing Arts, where she handles all the lighting for the venue and the events that are held in the space. She has also been a lighting designer for the UM Opera Theatre.
In addition to lighting, she has worked in costuming for Ole Miss Theatre and has been involved with various local projects as a makeup artist, including the Oxford Film Festival's Community Film and Theatre Oxford's Ten Minute Plays Festival.
She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi where she earned a degree in Linguistics and Classics.
Malco Screen Manager: Montana Byrd
Montana will graduate from the University of Mississippi’s Meek School of Journalism and New Media this May with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism with an emphasis in Broadcast and a minor in cinema. Montana has always had a passion for filmmaking, and she has spent the last few years working on various films throughout the state. In 2016, she was a reporter and editor for “Mississippi Votes: Looking Back, Moving Forward,” a documentary produced by the Meek School of Journalism. She also worked as the production coordinator and production accountant in “Kudzu Zombies,” which will have its world premiere at the festival this year. For more information about Montana, visit montanabyrd.com.
Merchandise Coordinator: Micaela Adams-Melendez
My name is Micaela Melendez, I’m 23 years old and I moved to Oxford from Clarksdale, MS ten years ago. I graduated in 2013, attended cosmetology school in 2015, and I became a stay at home mom after the birth of my son in 2016. I have always been passionate about movies and the work that goes into them, so it is time to get involved in something that I can enjoy being apart of.
Panels Coordinator: OPEN
Hospitality Coordinator (Transportation): Virginia Brick
Virginia, a native of Oxford but a transplant to the Nashville area for 13 years, holds a bachelors degree in Music Business and is an aspiring Music Supervisor. She has 12+ years of experience as an event coordinator and currently works as an event & catering sales manager for a local catering company. She is a devoted mother to her two sons and volunteers her time at music & film festivals and with the productions team at church. Contact Virginia at vbrick [@} sesac.com
Assistant Transportation Coordinator: POSITION CURRENTLY OPEN
Hospitality Coordinator (Filmmaker Lounge and Hotels): Kristin Rogers
Kristin has been involved with the Oxford Film Festival since 2008 in various capacities from volunteer to operations. She and her husband, Stephen, are avid movie watchers and enjoy a good independent film. Kristin is the Electronic Resources Librarian at the University of Mississippi Libraries and loves living in the Oxford community. Contact: kristin [@]oxfordfilmfest.com.
Hospitality Coordinator (Filmmaker Lounge and Gift Bags):: Wendy McMain
Wendy McMain has two kids and the family moved to Oxford four years ago from the Jackson, Mississippi area. She has worked in insurance for the past 31 years. She graduated from Belhaven College in 1995. She enjoys working as an extra on movies filmed here in Mississippi.
Hospitality Coordinator (Green Room):: Kim Chrestman
Kim has worked at Ole Miss for 20 years. She is currently the Senior Staff Assistant in the Leadership and Counselor Education department in the School of Education. She has three daughters and one son; two granddaughters. She has a significant other, DJ Lyons, whom they have been dating for 21 years. She loves swimming, boating, walking in the woods, exploring, window shopping and is a shade tree mechanic.
Hospitality Coordinator (Saturday Party and In-Kind Donations Coordinator): Stephanie Cox
Stephanie joined the team as a volunteer in 2018 and became a staff member after realizing she loved helping the film festival. She is a licensed social worker, the director of marketing for Full Potential Development and a Sales Strategist for Bosses Only Ink.
Wednesday Party Coordinator: Jaime Adams
I am an actress and aspiring songwriter who is thankful for peaceful country living with my husband and two children. I initially entered the Oxford art scene via Theatre Oxford, the local community theatre, & I continue to volunteer with them in a variety of capacities. I have been fortunate enough to be able to increase my involvement with OFF each year and look forward to continuing that trend in the future.
Thursday Party Coordinator: Courtney Hall
Courtney Hall atttended her first Oxford Film Festival in 2009 with the famous McPhails. She has volunteered in some capacity every year since! 2019 will be her 11th year to attend and 10th year to volunteer.
Friday Party Coordinator: Sherlyn Clark
Involved as a festival volunteer for the last 3 years, Sherlyn is joining the team this year sharing years of experience in the catering and hospitality industry.
Publications Assistant: Tom Speed
Tom Speed is a freelance magazine writer, amateur kazooist and peanut butter aficionado. He has been working with the Oxford Film Festival for the past four years as publications editor and contributing writer. He was co-founder, publisher and editor of the music magazine Honest Tune, and is a contributor to Blurt, Delta, Living Bluesand Paste magazines, among others. His work was included in the anthology, That Devil Music: Best Rock Writing of 2014 by Anthem Publishing. He is an unrepentant Netflix addict. He lives in Oxford withtwo dogs, two cats, two children and one wife.
Documentary Co-Coordinator: Damon Burks
Damon Burks is a native of Water Valley. He spent over 25 years in Business Management and Buyer. He is now pursuing acting and has appeared in several independent Mississippi movies. IMDB Damon Burks (ii). Taking weekly acting classes at the MSFANRW workshop in Jackson and has plans to direct his own short films,documentaries and web series in the future.
Matt Wymer, Documentary Co-Coordinator
Born In Prince George British Columbia Canada , Matt moved To Alligator, Mississippi at age five. He grew up in Oxford Mississippi. In only 8 short years, he graduated from the University of Mississippi with a BA inArt. His mission in life is to make people feel feelings through art, comedy and films.
Kid Film Fest Coordinator: Yasmeen Abdo
Yasmeen Abdo is a student at the University of Mississippi from Madison, MS. In between studying chemistry, she enjoys watching movies and reading historical mysteries.
Q&A Coordinator: Rory Ledbetter
Rory Ledbetter is an Associate Professor of Theatre Arts specializing in Acting, Voice, and Speech at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). In addition to touring his one-man show, A Mind Full of Dopamine, across Canada and the United States, he works with students, public speakers, and teachers to enhance their vocal power and presence. He is excited to be coordinating the Q&As for the films at the festival, and he hopes that everyone has an incredible festival experience.
OFF Ambassador: Susan McPhail
Susan has been involved with OFF since its beginning. She has worn many hats for the festival and is proud to now serve as ambassador, screener, promoter, and number one fan! Susan has discovered a love of acting and has appeared in movies with Nick Nolte and Ben Mendelsohn, and has worked with directors Alison Eastwood and Sean Brosnan.
OFF Ambassador: Johnny McPhail
Johnny has been involved with the Oxford Film Festival since the beginning and has been instrumental in promoting it through the years. He is an actor who is known for a variety of well-known works such as Ballast, True Detective, American Ultra, Free State of Jones, and Strange Weather. He was awarded a Hoka award several years ago for appearing in the most films in any film festival (7). He is a staunch supporter of the festival and fellow actors, and is known for his encouragement and eagerness to help others. He is also known for his extreme modesty.
Susan Bauer Lee, Publication Designer
Susan Bauer Lee: I move words, images, and pixels. I bang on things for fun.
Print Traffic Coordinator: Position Currently Open
Don Lewis - Narrative Feature
Narrative Features Programmer Don R. Lewis first attended the Oxford Film Festival in 2011 with his documentary "Worst in Show." He's been back almost every year since. Don has also served as Editor of the website Hammer to Nail since 2015 and, prior to that, was Managing Editor of Film Threat for over a decade. Don lives in Northern California and enjoys film, music, great beer and spending time with his daughter.
Donna Kozloskie- Documentary Feature/Shorts
Donna Kozloskie currently lives in Columbia, Missouri where she acts as Head of Programming for The Citizen Jane Film Festival, an annual event that features films solely directed/co-directed by women. She has worked in various capacities at many other fests including True/False, Rooftop Films, Tribeca and DOC NYC to name a few. A proud member of the Women Film Critics Circle, Donna’s writing and programming seek to bring together ideas and audiences for cultural exchange, change and expression. Please let her know the best place to thrift shop, to eat and to get a Fat Possum t-shirt while she is in Oxford!
Victoria Negri - Mississippi Shorts/Features
Victoria Negri is an award-winning writer/director/producer/actress. Her feature directorial debut, Gold Star, which she wrote, directed, produced, and starred in, features Oscar nominated actor Robert Vaughn in his last on-screen performance. The film has gone on to win five awards on the festival circuit, including two Audience Awards, Best Feature Film Award, theLisa Blount Memorial Award for Acting at the Oxford Film Festival, and Best Supporting Actress for Catherine Curtin at the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival. Gold Star was selected by incubator Big Vision Empty Wallet as an Inaugural Kickstart Diversity Film. Additionally,Victoria has directed and produced numerous short films, music videos and webseries featured at the Lower East Side Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Cleveland Film Festival, Cucalorus, Nitehawk Shorts Festival and more. She’s acted in award-winning features, shorts and webseries featured at: Cinequest Film Festival, Clermont-Ferrand, Tribeca and more. Always a cinephile, Victoria is looking forward to serving as Guest Director of the 2018 Art of Brooklyn Film Festival. Additionally, Victoria has written pieces on filmmaking for NoFilmSchool, BtchFlicks, Women and Hollywood, and The Talkhouse. She is a proud member of The Film Fatales, NYWIFT and The FilmShop.
Jennifer Murchison - Narrative Shorts
Jennifer is a native to Oxford, currently living in Memphis where she is the Assistant Director for Disability Resources for Students at the University of Memphis. Jennifer describes herself as a walking encyclopedia of classic movie knowledge and looks at people weird when they say they've never seen THE PRINCESS BRIDE. Her DVR is an archaeological study of TCM programming. She often tells people that if they accidentally remove ANY of the Mickey Rooney "Andy Hardy" films from her DVR that, well, kudzu can hide a LOT.
Brian Whisenant, LGBTQ
Brian certainly has an eclectic and varied background when it comes to the world of film, dating back to memorizing every word of “The Empire Strikes Back” at the age of 8, accidently going into the wrong theatre at the twin cinemas and watching “Moonstruck” at the age of 11 and sneaking a VHS of “The Silence of the Lambs” out of the local rental store at 15. More recently, Brian has not only worked for film festivals (running box offices at both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Hamptons International Film Festival) but also covered them for both Awards Daily (where he freelances as an Oscar blogger, focusing on Best Foreign Language Film and Best Documentary) and his own website, Awards Wiz. Brian also worked for NewFest, New York City’s LGBT film festival where he was a shorts programmer as well.In addition to working in this realm, Brian is an actor (starring in “Special Needs,” “Hungry Years,” and the Los Angeles based web series, “Office Problems” and aspiring film director. Thanks for Melanie for the opportunity to continue to do what he loves while back in his home state of Mississippi.
Valerie Guinn Polgar - Fest Forward (Animation/Experimental)
Valerie Guinn Polgar is a new media artist, educator, and founder of misbits: a new media art space. After spending some time working in post production, doing video editing and motion graphics in NYC, Valerie decided to turn her attention to making and teaching art. She currently lives in Oxford, MS with her husband and two young daughters. Valerie uses animation, video, and physical computing to create interactive and immersive artwork.
Newt Rayburn - Music Videos and Music Documentary
Newt Rayburn is the publisher of The Local Voice and a long-time musician with several bands including The Cooters and Hawgwash. He has had several music videos play at the Oxford Film Festival and is an ardent supporter of music and film.
Screenplay Contest Coordinator: Michelle Bright
Michelle Bright is an Instructor of Writing at the University of Mississippi. She enjoys volunteering for the Oxford Film Festival and Theatre Oxford and contributing and promoting filmmaking in Mississippi however she can. As screenplay coordinator, she hopes to help others realize their dreams and maybe be inspired to produce more of her own work soon.
OFF Board of Directors
Board President: Dr. Ralph Vance
Ralph Vance has served for over 40 years as an oncologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and now helps with fundraising for the medical school endowment.
Board Vice-President: Sparky Reardon
Sparky Reardon is the retired Dean of Students from the University of Mississippi and had a cameo role in Tate Taylor's "Get on Up."
Wayne Andrews is the Executive Director of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council and manages the Powerhouse Community Arts Center full-time.
For over a decade, Mississippi-native Shannon Cohn has produced award-winning feature documentaries & TV series for Discovery Channel & NatGeo. Before that, she practiced international law & was part of the legal team that prosecuted Enron. She went to film school at NYU and has a law degree from Vanderbilt.
New Albany native Hudson Hickman has 30 years of experience in the entertainment industry as a producer and production executive. The former Senior VP of Production for MGM Television has worked on numerous popular television shows including "The Love Boat," "MacGyver" and "Stargate."
Donna Ruth Roberts
Donna Ruth Roberts is retired as part owner of a residential construction company. She has been a volunteer and supporter of the film festival for the past 9 years and a patron of the arts for many more.
Mary Allyn Hedges (non-voting)
Mary Allyn Hedges serves as the Film Commissioner for Oxford as part of her duties with Visit Oxford.
Jack Garner is a native of Grenada, MS, and a resident of Oxford. He was educated at Ole Miss before a career in banking, retiring as CEO of Sunburst Bank - Central MS, now Regions Bank. He later was a partner and President of The Ramey Agency (marketing and brand positioning) in Jackson.
Long a supporter of the arts, Garner was founding President of the Grenada Arts Council, Chairman of the MS Symphony Orchestra Association and Chairman of the MS Museum of Art. He currently serves as a Trustee of the MS Dept. of Archives and History and the MS Humanities Council.
Harpinder Singh (Lucas)
Founder/President of Lucas Distribution & Consulting Inc. since September 2010 and was appointed as Director of Marketing & Sales for Indoor Advantage Advertising in May 2015. Graduated from University of Mississippi in 1993 with a degree in Banking and Finance. I also hold a degree in Accounting from the London School of Accountancy in England. During my time in Oxford I made a name for myself by successfully managing local businesses and restaurants. Now with nearly 20+ years of business and entrepreneurship experience, I have returned to Memphis to support the community and it's surrounding areas as a business consultant. I am noted for my business acumen, financial honesty and dedication to my business partners and clients.
Hollie Hilliard is an Oxford, MS. native. She is currently the Business Manager for Invitation Oxford Magazine. Hollie has a passion for art, fashion, and traveling. She spent several years in NYC, where she did commercial modeling. Her dream is to pursue a career in acting.
Greg Brock is a veteran journalist whose newspaper career spanned more than four decades, during which he worked for The New York Times, The Washington Post and several other newspapers. A native Mississippian and graduate of Ole Miss, Greg was awarded a Nieman Fellowship for Journalists at Harvard University in 1994.
OFF ADVISORY COMMITTEE