The Magnolia Independent Film Festival begins its 20th annual event on Thursday showcasing filmmakers from across the world.
The festival, held through Saturday at Starkville's Hollywood Premier Cinemas off Stark Road, will show 28 short and feature-length films in its three-day run; offer attendees ample opportunities to interact with directors, cast members and crew; and celebrate its best filmmakers with awards.
Other events include an invite-only, 20-year celebration event at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Holiday Inn Express Conference Room; a red carpet event at 6:30 p.m. at Hollywood Premier Cinemas; a 10 a.m. meet-and-greet with filmmakers at 929 Coffee Bar on Saturday; and a workshop -- Film Fest Strategy 101: Insider Advice from a Programmer -- hosted by 2016 Oxford Film Festival Executive Director Melanie Addington at 4:15 p.m. Saturday at the movie theater.
An award ceremony -- including honors for best feature, short, cinematography and director, and the Elena Zastawnik Award for Best Written Film and Ron Tibbett Award for Excellence in Film -- will conclude the festival at 10 p.m. Saturday.
General admission tickets are $10 per night or $30 for a three-day pass, but students with valid identification may purchase a $5 screening pass or a $15 pass for the entire festival. Tickets are available at the Hollywood Premier Cinemas box office.
How it began
The Magnolia Film Festival was founded in 1997 after Ron Tibbett, a Chicago filmmaker who had moved to the Golden Triangle, could not find an in-state festival at which to show one of his recently created film. Tibbett died in a 2004 car accident.
"Ron's vision was always to bring independent film to our area. He especially wanted the youth to get involved," said his widow, Charlotte Magnussen. "This festival has spun off other festivals in the state, and I know he would be very proud to see the direction it has taken. I have seen personal growth and success in many young people from our local towns and am so pleased and proud the film festival was an inspiration to them."
Continuing the festival ensures Tibbett's memory lives on, said festival Director Angella Baker, who met Tibbett when she volunteered for the event's third year.
"I learned so much from him, and this festival has had a great run because of how much he put into it," she said. "I hope everyone who attends walks away learning that there's a whole new world out there, in terms of the ideas that filmmakers are turning into films.
"This year's festival features up-and-coming, rising stars, from a 10-year-old filmmaker bringing her film to the screen Friday to a young man flying in from Hungary to make his debut. I believe we have a high caliber of filmmakers who have submitted entries this year," Baker added. "Not only is Mississippi filmmaking alive and well -- we have six Mississippi films this year -- but we also have seven foreign entries. It's wonderful how this festival brings a whole new dimension of art to Mississippians."
While organizers are hopeful attendees will fill theater seats during the three-day festival, Greater Starkville Development Partnership Interim Chief Executive Officer Heath Barret said local businesses and restaurants will enjoy entertaining visitors.
"The film festival brings in visitors to our community that get to enjoy our vibrant culinary scene, shop in our unique retail shops and experience the hospitality of our hotels. We are very grateful for the Starkville Area Arts Council for putting on this event and helping bring new tourists to Starkville," he said.
Thursday's screenings include: "Lucky Children," directed by Gulliver Moore; "The Opera Singer," directed by Steve Kahn; "The Department of Correction," directed by Ninan Tan; "The Unconventional Gourmet," directed by Wendy Keeling; "7 Beds," directed by Pedra Moreno del Oso; "Exposure," directed by Mary Jeanes; "Seagulls," directed by David Dubois; "A Little Love Goes a Long Clay," directed by Juliet Buckholdt; and "Disturbing the Peace," directed by Talia Apkon.
Friday's screenings include: "Tinker," directed by Glenn Payne; "Last Days," directed by Arturo Leon Llerena; "New Neighbors," directed by E.G. Bailey; "Dolphin Skin City," directed by Pierre Gaffie; "Birthday," directed by Chris King; "Dear New President," directed by Cameron Bontrager; and "Slipaway," directed by Daniel Mentz.
Saturday's screenings include: "The Usual Silence," directed by Samuel Thomas; "Sad Face," directed by Maggie Bushway; "Home Sweet Home," directed by Carlos Polo; "All Are Welcome Here," directed by Vincenzo Mistretta; "Calls from the Unknown," directed by Edward Valibus; "O' Brazen Age," directed by Alexander Carson; "Shy Guys," directed by Fredric Lehne; "#HELP," directed by Pedro Englemann; "On Time," directed by Xavier Neal-Burgin; "Karma's Shadow," directed by Rob Underhill; "Aluminum," directed by Frank Ladner; and "The Atoning," directed by Michael Williams.
Carl Smith covers Starkville and Oktibbeha County for The Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter @StarkDispatch