Cinema takes center stage in Oxford this weekend

Richard Speights’ “America 101” is among the short films that will screen at this weekend’s  Oxford Film Festival.

Richard Speights’ “America 101” is among the short films that will screen at this weekend’s Oxford Film Festival.

William Faulkner was a screenwriter as well as a novelist. Even so, it’s safe to say his hometown of Oxford, Miss., prizes his work on “The Sound and the Fury,” a saga of Yoknapatawpha County, over his contributions to “Land of the Pharaohs,” a story of seductive ancient princess Joan Collins.

In other words, Oxford is a literary town. (It’s also a musical town, thanks to its proximity to the thriving North Mississippi blues scene.)

For at least one weekend a year, however, cinema takes center stage among the region’s arts, thanks to the Oxford Film Festival, which celebrates its 10th anniversary Thursday through Sunday.

This year’s festival showcases a few dozen features, shorts, documentaries and other films; panel discussions and workshops; concerts and parties; children’s events and more. Screenings are held at the Malco Oxford Studio Cinema, a multiplex at 1111 Jackson Ave. W. Other events are held at the historic Lyric Oxford theater in the town square.

A festival highlight likely will be a public conversation with screenwriter Roger Avary at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Studio Cinema. In Mississippi to work on an adaptation of Faulkner’s “Sanctuary,” Avary and Quentin Tarantino shared a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for “Pulp Fiction,” and Avary later worked on such films as the underrated “The Rules of Attraction” (which he directed) and “Beowulf.” The conversation will be moderated by Chris Offutt, a writer on “Weeds” and “True Blood” who teaches at Ole Miss.

Many events will be free, “to give back to the community, in honor of our 10th year,” said festival executive director Molly Fergusson, one of the founders of the event, which operated under the aegis of the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council before becoming independent in 2008.

Memphis filmmakers usually contribute to the festival, but this year the Bluff City’s influence will be larger than usual, thanks to screenings of director C. Scott McCoy’s “Antenna,” a documentary about Memphis’ famed punk-rock club; Mark Jones’ political satire/eccentric-family comedy “Tennessee Queer”; Mike McCarthy’s autobiographical Elvis essays, “Native Son” and “Tupelove”; and Ryan Parker and G.B. Shannon’s award-winning short “Pretty Monsters.”

Oxford Film Festival

Thursday through Sunday at various venues in Oxford, Miss. Weekend pass: $30. Day pass: $15. Film ticket: $8. For tickets, a full schedule, or more information, go to oxfordfilmfest.org.

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