The 2016 Oxford Film Festival highlighted the closing night of the film festival with presentations of the film festival’s celebrated Hoka Award along with cash prizes and in-kind production packages were made in front of a raucous crowd at Oxford’s Lyric Theater, including two Hoka Awards going to Claire Carré’ for her work on the critically-acclaimed sci-fi drama EMBERS.
The Hoka Award for Best Narrative Feature Film went to Carré’s EMBERS. The award comes with a $20,000 camera rental package from Panavision, eight hours of post color correction from John Davidson Color and an InkTip Script listing. The filmmaker also received a second Hoka as she was the first filmmaker honored with the Alice Guy-Blaché Filmmaker Award which was created to honor the top female filmmaker at Oxford FF. That award includes a $1,000 prize from the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation this year. Carré’ noted that she had seen and was a fan of Guy-Blaché’s work, which made the award all the more special to her.
Special Jury Awards in the Narrative category were given to Kostadin Bonev for Best Director for his work on THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL, and Best Cast for John W. Mann and Jon Gunn’s THE WEEK.
The Hoka Award for Best Documentary Feature Film was given to Nick Brandestini’s CHILDREN OF THE ARCTIC. Included as part of that award is 3 days of audio post production from Bad Animals, a Seattle-based post-production facility and 8 hours of post color correction from John Davidson Color.
The Hoka Awards in the Mississippi Films Category were presented to Gabriel Robertson’s THE GIFT for Best Narrative Film. The award includes a cash prize through the Casey Spradling Memorial Endowment. The young star of the film, Brady Permenter, accepted the award on behalf of Robertson and won over the audience as he said the award was for the film’s crew.
The Hoka Award for Best Documentary Film in the Mississippi category went to Larissa Lam’s FINDING CLEVELAND. Lam’s husband, Baldwin Chiu said the search for his Chinese forbearers had unexpectedly led them to Cleveland, Mississippi (as opposed to China) where they were heartened to see the Chinese community working with both the Black and White communities, re-affirming the best of this country. Mississippi Public Broadcasting (MPB) will provide a special prize of broadcasting the film. Both winners gain membership in the OxFilm Society and get free equipment rentals for one year.
Oxford Film Festival Executive Director Melanie Addington said, “This was a major year of growth for the Oxford Film Festival and the increased number of films we accepted and presented this year was only matched by the artistic quality and creative achievement of those films. Our film juries were faced with a number of difficult decisions choosing the Hoka Award winners over the other films in each of the categories, thus quite a few films received special mentions as well.”
In the Short Film category, Best Narrative Short went to Fred Castadot’s Belgian drama, BLAZING SUN, with a Special Jury Citation for Southern Spirit going to Paul D. Hart’s THREE FINGERS.
The winner of the Hoka for Best Documentary Short was Nicholas Coles’s THE HOUSE IS INNOCENT. A Special Jury Citation for Social Significance was given to Jarratt Taylor’s FITTING THE DESCRIPTION IN NORTH PORTLAND.
The Hoka Award for Best Animation went to James Dastoli’s THE SEAFARER AND THE MOONLIGHT, with a Special Jury Mention given to Sihanouk Mariona’s THEY CRAWL AMONGST US.
The Hoka Award for Best Experimental Film went to André Silva’s CYBERGENESIS, with Special Jury Mentions also given to Edward Ramsay-Morin’s A PLACE WITHIN A PLACE, and Heidi Kumao’s SWALLLOWED WHOLE.
The Hoka Award for Best Music Video was presented to Clay Hardwick for his music video, FALLEN STAR, and a Special Mention went to George Gross’s BOOKER WRIGHT’S MASHUP.
The honoree for the Oxford Film Festival’s Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award was indie film stalwart, Robert Longstreet. One of the most celebrated actors in independent film, Longstreet has acted in over 40 features, including films like TAKE SHELTER, AIN'T THEM BODIES SAINTS, SEPTIEN, THE OREGONIAN, THE CATECHISM CATACLYSM, and previous Oxford Film Festival films, THIS IS MARTIN BONNER and BOB BIRDNOW. Longstreet praised the festival and its film fans, as well as the beauty of Oxford, Mississippi itself.
The award ceremony began with the presentation of the 1st Annual Audience Awards Hoka. An online contest of Oxford Film Festival alumni short films was held prior to the festival, and Louis Bourgeois’s WEST OF ELVIS was chosen as the winner. The film originally played in 2014 and is a short documentary capturing the spirit of Paul MacLeod, the owner of Graceland Too.
A special Editing Award was presented to Christopher Reyes for his work on Sarah Fleming and Joann Self Selvidge’s VIOLA: A MOTHER’S STORY OF JUVENILE JUSTICE.
The following day, the Oxford Film Festival announced that Chandler Griffin and Alison Fast’s YALO was chosen by film goers to receive the Ron Tibbett Audience Award.
This year’s edition of the Oxford Film Festival was marked by an increase in accepted films, world and U.S. premieres, and an unprecedented number of attending filmmakers. Not surprisingly, audience numbers also swelled as the film festival broadened its reach both locally and nationally in its thirteenth year, resulting in an increase in ticket sales by a remarkable 35%.
Other highlights included a dedicated presentation of Virtual Reality (VR) projects at the Powerhouse, as well as filmmaker panels dedicated to minority casting, diversity in filmmaking, and Mississippi filmmaking, among other subjects.
The Best of the Oxford Film Festival featuring the award-winning films from this year’s edition of the festival will screen at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center of Arts and Education (1600 Government Street, Ocean Springs, Mississippi) on February 27-28. The screenings are sponsored by Green House on Porter and R&B Feder Charitable Foundation for the Beaux-Arts. More information on the event and how to purchase tickets can be found at http://themaryc.org/?event=the-best-of-the-oxford-film-festival-films.
2016 OXFORD FF AWARD-WINNING FILMS
BLAZING SUN (2015) – BEST NARRATIVE SHORT Director: Fred Castadot Country: Belgium; Running Time: 24 min
Under the leaden sky of a summer day, Eric goes to work to defend a great issue. But, blinded by stress, Eric is forgetting the most important thing...
BOOKER WRIGHT’S MASHUP (2016) – SPECIAL JURY MENTION – MUSIC VIDEO Director: George Gross Country: USA, Running Time: 2:50 min A musical video mashup of Booker Wright's infamous 1966 monologue on NBC News' TV documentary, Mississippi: A Self Portrait.
CHILDREN OF THE ARCTIC (2015) – BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE FILM Director: Nick Brandestini Country: Switzerland, Running Time: 93 min
Children of the Arctic is a portrait of Native Alaskan teenagers coming of age at America's northernmost edge. As their climate and culture undergo profound changes, they strive to be both modern American kids and the inheritors of an ancient whaling culture.
CYBERGENESIS (2015) – BEST EXPERIMENTAL FILM Director: André Silva Country: USA, Running Time: 13 min
CYBERGENESIS is a fantastical, animated journey (segments of which have been creatively crowd-sourced) that imagines a future creation myth, crafted by cyber consciousness from bits and pieces of humanity's online legacy.
EMBERS (2015) – BEST NARRATIVE FEATURE FILM Director: Claire Carré Country: USA, Running Time: 85 min
After a global neurological epidemic, those who remain search for meaning and connection in a world without memory. Five interwoven stories explore how we might learn, love and communicate in a future that has no past.
FALLEN STAR (2016) – BEST MUSIC VIDEO Director: Clay Hardwick Country: USA, Running Time: 8 min
FALLEN STAR is what happens when you make it to the top. This music video combines three original songs into a cinematic narrative, following AJC into a world of bitter famedom. Of course, making a deal at the crossroads has its costs.
FINDING CLEVELAND (2016) – BEST MISSISSIPPI DOCUMENTARY FILM Director: Larissa Lam Country: USA, Running Time 12:24 min
Finding Cleveland is a documentary short film that follows Charles Chiu and his family on an emotional journey as they take a trip to Cleveland, Mississippi to visit the grave site of Charles’ father, KC Lou.
FITTING THE DESCRIPTION IN NORTH PORTLAND (2015) – SPECIAL JURY CITATION FOR SOCIAL SIGNIFICANCE Director: Jarratt Taylor Country: USA, Running Time: 25:44
Recently, the students of Roosevelt High School received a wake up call after a fellow student was tased by the police in the St. John's neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. The stories they had been hearing about police violence weren't just news stories from another town about people they didn't know. These events were now happening in their backyard.
THE GIFT (2016) – BEST MISSISSIPPPI NARRATIVE FILM Director: Gabriel Robertson Country: USA, Running Time: 12:48 min
To celebrate his eleventh birthday, a young boy selects his gift - little knowing that his choice will change the world.
THE HOUSE IS INNOCENT (2015) – BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT Director: Nicholas Coles Country: USA, Running Time: 12:15 min
Meet Tom and Barbara, the proud new owners of a serial killer’s house — the most infamous residence in Sacramento, California. The middle-age couple soon realizes it's going to take more than a fresh coat of paint to whitewash their home's macabre history.
THE SEAFARER AND THE MOONLIGHT (2015) – BEST ANIMATION Director: James Dastoli Country: USA, Running Time: 2:30 min
An ancient mariner does battle with a behemoth from the deep.
THE SINKING OF SOZOPOL (2015) – BEST DIRECTOR Director: Kostadin Bonev Country: Bulgaria, Running Time: 100 min
An aging man goes back to Sozopol and brings along his memories and ten bottles of vodka. It is clear that when the vodka is over, something must happen. Something that will change his life forever. Because when hope is gone, a miracle is the last resort.
SWALLOWED WHOLE (2015) – SPECIAL JURY MENTION - EXPERIMENTAL Director: Heidi Kumao Country: USA, Running Time: 4:06 min
Swallowed Whole is a somber, animated, experimental film about surviving extreme isolation and physical limitations as a result of traumatic injury. THEY CRAWL AMONG US! (2015) – SPECIAL JURY MENTION - ANIMATION Director: Sihanouk Mariona Country: USA, Running Time: 12:30 min A stop-motion documentary about life in New York City — as told by its pests!
THREE FINGERS (2015) – SPECIAL JURY CITATION FOR SOUTHERN SPIRIT Director: Paul D. Hart Country: USA, Running Time: 12:30 min
A young female Marine war veteran navigates her disintegrating life until there is nothing left but to make a choice.
VIOLA: A MOTHER’S STORY OF JUVENILE JUSTICE (2015) – BEST EDITING (Christopher Reyes) Directors: Sarah Fleming, Joann Self Selvidge Country: USA, Running Time: 7:55 min
A mother shares personal stories about her life and her struggles with her son Edward, who has been involved with the juvenile justice system in Memphis, Tennessee.
THE WEEK (2015) – BEST CAST Directors: John W. Mann, Jon Gunn Country: USA, Running Time: 97 min
Dick Romans is a washed up TV host whose wife leaves him the day before their ten-year anniversary celebration. Alone with his thoughts, his dog, and a ton of booze, Dick decides to go through with the week-long party... by himself. The seven event-filled days become his reluctant vision quest, filled with odd characters, awkward romance, and some long-overdue self-examination.
WEST OF ELVIS (2015) - AUDIENCE AWARDS WINNER Director: Louis Bourgeois Country: USA, Running Time: 8:05 min
West of Elvis is the last documentary made of Paul MacLeod, the curator of Graceland Too, arguably the largest and strangest collection of Elvis memorabilia in the world.
YALO (2015) – RON TIBBETT AUDIENCE AWARD Director: Alison Fast Country: USA, Running Time: 10 min
A small town craft brewery hits it big, producing bold new tastes like Miss-issIPA, River Ale and small-batch, bourbon barrel-aged stout, in what is formerly a dry county. YALO showcases the persistent rise of creative entrepreneurs in Water Valley, and the importance of small businesses to revitalize Main Street.