I was privileged this year to serve as the president of the Crossroads Film Society's board of directors, which meant an opportunity to work with a wonderful group of creative folks. Mostly, I would tell them things like, "No, that's not in the budget."
Still, they persevered.
The culmination of their effort is the Eighth Annual Crossroads Film Festival, which takes place this weekend at the United Artists Parkway Place theater on Lakeland Drive, as well as at Millsaps College, Hal & Mal's, George Street and various other venues around town.
The Festival features more than 60 films in four days, three nights of great music, and a full day of seminars and workshops by filmmaking experts on Saturday, March 31.
The films range from experimental and student short films to some amazing documentaries and narrative films such as "Come Early Morning," which you can read more about in this week's cover interview with writer/director—and now Mississippian—Joey Lauren Adams (see page 14).
Not to be missed is "10 Items or Less," starring Morgan Freeman and Paz Vega; "The Novice" written by Millsaps graduate Murray Robinson and featuring recent Oscar-winner Alan Arkin; "Certifiably Jonathan," a portrait of comic genius Jonathan Winters; and "Above the Line: Saving Willie Mae's Scotch House," about the famous eatery in New Orleans, directed by Joe York.
Herman Snell, music columnist for the Jackson Free Press, is also Crossroads festival director, which means you can expect some amazing music acts at the Crossroads after-parties. Thursday night features Beach House (Baltimore) and Unwed Sailor (Seattle); Friday night showcases Snowden (Atlanta), Bear Colony (North Little Rock) and Dark Knights of Camelot (Hattiesburg); Saturday's awards ceremony includes music by "cinematic" trip-hop artist Amanda Ray (Atlanta), indie rock sensation Deerhunter (Atlanta), and local favorite Questions in Dialect.
If there's a "best kept secret" of Crossroads Film Festival, it might be the Saturday workshops. Saturday in Millsaps' Olin Hall you'll find two different tracks of workshops, including free classes for kids and teens sponsored by Cellular South, and an inexpensive pro-level track (sponsored by Peavey Electronics) for students and adults who are interested in acting, writing and directing for television or the movies. The people teaching these seminars are industry insiders—working Hollywood writers and filmmakers from all over—offering valuable insight if you're interested in learning about the film business.
Here's my recommendation: If you really like independent films or you have an interest in the film biz, the best way to attend Crossroads is to get an All-Access Festival Pass and go to every film, every event and every seminar you can. (Passes are $55 for Crossroads members, $75 for non-members and available from Be-Bop or on-site during the Festival.)
Take a risk and watch some of the innovative film blocks. Get to at least one workshop that you think might prove fruitful. Attend all the after-parties. And if you're a pass-holder, you get into the VIP filmmaker receptions that happen every afternoon from Thursday to Saturday, including the opening reception sponsored by the Jackson Free Press on Thursday at the Plaza Building in downtown Jackson.
Every block of films has at least one filmmaker in attendance, so be ready to enjoy a Q&A session at every turn. And because the bulk of the Festival films are held at the UA Parkway Place, all the comforts of movie watching—popcorn, candy, great seats—are there to help you enjoy the weekend. I encourage you to dive into the festival spirit and immerse yourself in film for a few days.
Speaking of being immersed in film, I have to heap praise on Thabi Moyo, formerly a photographer/intern for the JFP and currently a planning consultant for a variety of organizations, including splitting her time between her job as Festival Coordinator for the Crossroads Film Festival and her work with the Canton Film Office. Thabi is driven, creative, artistic, and unfailingly pleasant and level-headed, even when corralling a bunch of busy volunteers and pulling together the sponsorships, posters, flyers, hotel rooms, venues, films, instructors and all of the logistics that go into this incredible four-day experience. Thabi is an inspiration to any young Mississippian who wants to work in the creative business world. If you have that same "can do" attitude, you can get there—it just takes drive, determination and a belief in yourself.
Crossroads was founded by dedicated local filmmakers and film experts such as Anita Modak-Truran, Lorena Manriquez, Philip Scarborough, Nina Parikh, Monte Kraus, Ed Inman and Ferrell Tadlock because they envisioned a festival for the Jackson Metro that would showcase local filmmaking talent while exposing Central Mississippi to a menu of international festival-quality films.
Now in our ninth year, the Crossroads Film Society continues to expand on that mission by including year-round programming, special events, and support for other Central Mississippi arts organizations that want to incorporate film or video into their own programming. Our Special Events committee will be working with New Stage Theatre in April to show "Gone With The Wind" in support of their run of "Moonlight and Magnolias." Also in April, we'll work with Fondren Renaissance during the Arts, Eats and Beats festival to show "Friday the 13th" (for adults) and "Creature from the Black Lagoon" (for the whole family) in the historic Pix/Capri Theater. Then, this summer, look for a series of Italian films shown in conjunction with the Mississippi Museum of Art in support of their upcoming show, "Between God and Man: Angels in Italian Art."
I'm thrilled to have been a part of Crossroads this year, and I invite you to become a member of the Crossroads Film Society, a volunteer at upcoming events and, of course, an attendee of the Eighth Annual Crossroads Film Festival this weekend.
Thanks for supporting Jackson arts organizations such as Crossroads. Together we can cultivate Jackson's thriving arts scene and build a truly creative city we can all enjoy.