The Independent Spirit

Movies are windows to the world, which will turn the Lyric Theatre into a glass house during the 2009 Tupelo Film Festival.
More than 40 independent films will be screened from Thursday to Saturday. Viewers will be transported from Mississippi to New York, England, Peru, Italy, fictional animated realms and beyond.
“‘Connecting People through Indie Film’ is the theme this year, which says it all,” said Pat Rasberry, festival director and Tupelo Film Commissioner. “It is the filmmakers we honor who put, sometimes, all on the line, as they follow their dream to bring story to screen, creating joy, laughter, drama and inspiration.”
Filmmakers from around the country and the world submitted nearly 200 films. Screener’s cut that down to 41 films for the competition. The field includes feature-length movies, documentaries, short films, animation and music videos, as well as entries from high school and college students.
“We have a really full schedule,” Rasberry said. “We have a very exciting three days.”
The first film block will be 1 to 6:15 p.m. Thursday at the Lyric Theatre, which will be followed by the festival’s kick-off party from 6:30 to 10 p.m. on the Lee County Courthouse lawn. Music will be provided by FoShOrchestra, which blends sounds from the U.S., Jamaica, Cuba, India and more.
“You can buy a plate of food for $8, but the party is free,” Rasberry said. “We’ll have a free outdoor screening of ‘The Human Experience,’ which is awesome, awesome, awesome. It’s very inspirational.”
“The Human Experience” is the first winner of the Screener’s Choice Award. It’s about a pair of brothers who find beauty on the streets of New York, in the slums of Peru and at a leper colony in Ghana.

Training opportunities
In addition to comedies, dramas and documentaries, the sixth Tupelo Film Festival will include forums and workshops with industry professionals.
Hudson Hickman, a New Albany native and an independent producer with MGM, will discuss “Thinking Globally, Acting Locally: Filmmaking in the 21st Century” during a free forum from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday.
From 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, A.C. Weary and Adam Bricker will present “Fighting for Camera and Action Film Production.” The $35 workshop will cover the staging and shooting of action scenes, as well as editing and special effects.
Also, kids from first to fifth grade are invited to “Moviemakers: Movie Animation Workshop for Kids,” a free workshop by Don Tingle.
“The kids’ workshop is free, but there’s a limit of 15 participants,” Rasberry said.

Small screen
Those who attend the festival at 8:15 p.m. Saturday will get to experience some of the power usually reserved for television executives.
Josh Kimmel, who competed in the 2008 festival, will bring the pilot episode for a television show called “The Future Life of Jake.”
“We’re going to pass out forms after the screening,” Rasberry said. “The audience will get an idea of what it’s like to judge a film.”
Filmmaker Frank Vitolo will serve as emcee for the festival’s awards ceremony on Saturday. Rasberry predicted the judges will have difficult choices to make before winners are announced.
“We have some really great films. A lot of them will be Mississippi premiers, U.S. premiers and even world premiers,” Rasberry said. “We’re just really happy about how all the elements are coming together for a wonderful festival. We’d love to have everyone come join us.”

Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@djournal.com.

M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal