Roll ‘em: Tupelo Film Festival

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

There’s more to a film festival than sitting beneath the silver screen, and Pat Rasberry knows this.
That’s why she packed the schedule for the 9th annual Tupelo Film Festival full of music, workshops, parties and, of course, films. From documentaries to thrillers, from shorts to features, the Tupelo Film Fest has all kinds of movies ready to hit the big screen, and there are extra events planned to add to the movie-going experience.
“We had over 100 submissions, and we’re screening close to 60,” said Rasberry, of the Tupelo Film Commission. “It’s packed.”
The festival kicks off next Wednesday with a night full of work by local and regional filmmakers. Films to be screened include “Gypsy Heart,” written by April Perea and directed by Daniel Lee; Glenn Payne’s “Zion” and “The Fall of Henry;” Kenny Cook’s “Bitter Shoes” and “Purdie Loves Tupelo” by Rex Harsin.
Films will begin screening at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by the kickoff party that night at 6:30.
The documentary “Church of Elvis” will be shown on the courthouse lawn.
“It’s the 35th anniversary of his death, so we wanted to honor Elvis,” Rasberry said.
Films begin screening at 12:30 p.m. Friday, and at 7:30 p.m. the documentary “7 Years Underground: A ’60s Tale” will be shown at the Goodlett Manor.
In honor of the film, which celebrates the ’60s and legendary night club Cafe Au Go-Go, the building will be tripped out in hippie decorations, and drinks from the original Cafe Au Go-Go menu will be served. The music video competition will follow, and Sam Mosley and the Mosley & Johnson Band will close the evening.
Workshops kick off Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. and include “Going Pro as an Actor,” presented by Don Tingle, and “Shooting Your Short Film,” presented by Sam Dalton.
“This will provide filmmakers with an opportunity to get tips from skilled professionals for only $10,” Rasberry said.
High school film competition screenings follow at 12:30 p.m., with regular film screenings starting just 30 minutes later.
The awards ceremony is at 8, and includes the best of show Ron Tibbett Award and the Elvin Whitesides Director’s Award. Extra awards will be given out, Rasberry said, because the judges were so impressed with the festival’s selections.
The Wrap Party at the Silver Moon Club, featuring music by bluegrass band Possum Posse, closes the festival Saturday night.
Film judges include Eddie Murphy’s brother and actor Ray Murphy Jr., award-winning producer Jeremy Nocon and indie director Bill Kavanagh. Tupelo musician Paul Thorn is one of the judges for the music video competition.
Some of the films that will be screened throughout the weekend include the short comedy “Thugs, the Musical”; the feature film “Hitting the Cycle,” about a pro baseball player at the end of his career; the documentary “Mississippi: I Am,” about gay civil rights in Mississippi; the thriller “Into the Wake”; the Underground Railroad doc “300 Miles to Freedom” and the student-produced short “Election Day,” about high school politics. Many of the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss their work.
Though the fest is full of workshops, music and parties, Rasberry said the films are the stars of the show.
“Film is a great entertainer,” she said. “This is a great way to experience indie film and learn more about it. It’s so important to get behind indie film, and this is a way to enjoy the weekend for an excellent price. There’s something for everybody.”

Dim the lights
What: Tupelo Film Festival
When: May 16-19
Where: Most screenings at The Lyric Theatre.
Cost: $5/Wednesday screenings; $40/all-access pass; $10/Saturday workshops; $15/day pass; $7.50/day pass for seniors and students; $5/after parties without pass
Info: (662) 841-6521, 1-800-533-0611 or

• Film Fest schedule
For more complete schedule, visit or pick up a program at the Tupelo CVB.

May 16
6:30 p.m. – Local and Regional Filmmakers showcase, The Lyric

May 17
12:30-6:35 p.m. – Film screenings, The Lyric
6:30 p.m. – Kick off party featuring screenings and music by Hot Rod Riot, Broadway Street and Lee County courthouse lawn

May 18
12:30-7:30 p.m. – Film screenings, The Lyric
7:30 p.m. – “7 Years Underground: A 60s Tale” and music video competition screenings, followed by Sam Mosley and the Mosley & Johnson Band at 10 p.m., Goodlett Manor

May 19
8:30 a.m. – Workshops, The Lyric
12:30 p.m. – Mississippi High School Film Competition screenings, The Lyric
1 p.m. – Film screenings, The Lyric
8 p.m. – Awards ceremony, The Lyric
9 p.m. – Wrap party with music by Possum Posse, Silver Moon Club

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