Fulfilling The Mission | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Fulfilling The Mission

When I got involved with the Crossroads Film Society, I didn't know much about non-profits or arts societies—my face was too often buried in a computer screen to get involved in stuff like that. But two years ago, some great folks decided it was time to fill a gap and start bringing regular independent films screenings to the Jackson Metro.

Friends involved with Crossroads encouraged me to join and help organize a year-round film series that would complement the Crossroads Film Festival that happens every year around April Fool's (which, yes, means this weekend).

This past year, working again on the Film Series has been a wonderful experience—we've been particularly proud of our new partnership with the people at New Stage Theatre that enables us to screen high-quality indie films within the city limits of Jackson.

Thanks to everyone who has come out to those films, and particularly those of you who have joined Crossroads Film Society in support of the Film Series—membership has easily doubled (nearly tripled) since the Film Series has been in place, and we absolutely cherish your support.

In the meantime, member or not, get off your butt and attend the festival this weekend—you'll find plenty of info on the proceedings in this issue of the JFP. The festival has it all, from the Mississippi Filmmakers Showcase, to free filmmaking panel discussions, to classes for kids and adults, to feature films such as "Capote" and Steve Martin's "Shopgirl."

If you're a documentary fan, Crossroads has always put together a top-notch line-up of docs. This year is no different, with topics ranging from civil rights to Katrina recovery to jazz to "The Passion of Christ."

One hint—if you like indie movies and music, the Festival Pass is your best bet, as it gets you into the pre-parties and after-parties, including JAM! at Crossroads on Thursday night, along with some kick-ass music acts planned for Friday and Saturday night.

Crossroads is run by people who have families, busy lives and full-time jobs, but still find it extremely important to put in a ton of hard work to throw this festival each year. It's an amazing amount of labor, and it's done by an organization that has always kept within their budgets and hit their financial goals (knock wood).

Crossroads Film Society is lean and mean, it's run by extremely well-meaning, hard-working people, and I think it provides a sincere service to the community—a forum for young and old Mississippians to tell their own stories, experience the stories of others and celebrate the art of the film.

I'm proud of the ranks of JFPers who work with Crossroads, particularly JFP Music Editor Herman Snell, who is the 2006 Crossroads festival director, and Thabi Moyo, our former photography intern and the recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Diversity Internship grant. This year Thabi is the festival coordinator for Crossroads, an exhausting job that takes dedication, patience and a ton of energy. And kudos to JFP designer (and editorial cartoonist; see below) Darren Schwindaman for doing a great job on the Crossroads Festival Guide this year.

Another thing that makes me proud of Crossroads is its "hands on" board of directors and its advisory board members—people like our president, Anita Modak-Truran, and others such as founders Ed Inman, Nina Parikh, Monte Kraus, Ferrell Tadlock and Phillip Scarborough, along with folks who give a ton of their time to making this thing work, like Jeanne Luckett, Sid Davis, Dr. George Bey, Nicole Barrett, Karen Gilder, Jan Cooper, Francine Reynolds, Amy Kraus, Robert Traub, Ammi Nunnelee, and people that I'm undoubtedly forgetting to mention.

Crossroads stands out as a young arts organization due to its two-pronged focus—the goal is to promote the art of filmmaking within Mississippi while at the same time bringing great films to Mississippians, using Jackson as our home base. Aside from the great people I get to work with, that mission is what I love most about the Society.

It plays to a theme that I carry with me when I think about Jackson. Often you'll hear that Jackson's arts or music or culture scene isn't cool enough because we don't get enough of the right acts, or the festivals aren't big or hip enough, or we don't have access to all of the arts options that we should.

Some of that is true. But most of it is just whining.

The reality is that any one of us can get involved in an effort such as Crossroads—or whatever group covers the art form you appreciate most—and start working to make something cool happen. And if the arts group doesn't exist that you want to belong to, then get a few folks together and start it—the way the co-founders of Crossroads sat around a table in Cups seven years ago and dreamed up a festival. Or the way some Millsaps students got together a few years ago and started The Collective. Or the way Knol Aust and friends started Unity Mississippi.

If you keep an arm's length from the cynical folks and maintain focus on a steady goal—particularly if that goal is to celebrate native talent in our state and/or bring new cultural options to Jackson—then you can get support, people will sign on to help and you'll probably find that you even get the money you need. If there's a gap that needs filling, then stand up and fill it.

In the meantime, get out to the Crossroads Film Festival this weekend and see if you can't experience something you haven't seen before. You owe it to yourself not only to enjoy the films, events and music, but also to see if it sparks something in your own imagination.

Oh—and if you follow through and put that creative talent of yours to good use, rest assured that the JFP will be here to help you let the people of Jackson know about it. It's what we do—and I totally dig that I get to be a part of fulfilling that mission, too.

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