Indie Memphis 2018 Friday: MIA, Diana Ross, and Negro Terror


After a gala opening at the Halloran Centre Thursday night, Indie Memphis moves to Overton Square on Friday. The schedule is packed with great stuff beyond what I could fit into this week's cover story about the festival. 

Madeline's Madeline (1:10 PM, Studio on the Square) is an acclaimed, visually inventive film by director Josephine Decker, who won the Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker Award at Indie Memphis 2014.

She began as a refugee from Sri Lanka, and ended up playing on the world's biggest stages. Matangi/Maya/MIA (3:40, Studio On The Square) is a documentary about the fascinating life of political dance pop musician M.I.A.

The festival's first world premiere is Diego Llorente's Entrialgo, a beautiful vérité documentary about life in rural Spain.

The second world premiere of the day is Shoot The Moon Right Between The Eyes (6:30, Studio on the Square). It's a musical by Austin, Texas director Graham L. Carter that sets the music of John Prine amidst a story of a pair of small-time grifters who meet their match in a strong willed widow. It's inventive, heartfelt, and a little rough around the edges, which is totally appropriate for a film that takes inspiration from Prine's lyrics.

At 6:30 at Playhouse on the Square, the Hometowner Documentary Shorts bloc features films from Memphis artists, including Lauren Ready, Jason Allen Lee, and Klari Farzley. Best of Enemies director Robert Gordon and producer Kim Bledsoe Lloyd's film "Ginning Cotton at the Dockery" tracks down the men and women who worked at the last functioning cotton plantation in Mississippi. Memphis musician Robbie Grant makes his directorial debut with "Ben Siler Gives Ben Siler Advice," in which Memphis filmmaker and Flyer film contributor Ben Siler meets a younger Memphian named Ben Siler and tells him how the world works. It pretty much does what it says on the box, in two hilariously depressing minutes.

At 9:10, there's a genuine only-at-Indie Memphis moment. Mahogany is a 1975 star vehicle for Diana Ross, directed by Motown impresario Berry Gordy (and a couple of ringers). Also featuring a smoking turn from Billy Dee Williams in his prime, and a smash hit number one song from Ross as a theme, it's a 70s classic. To illustrate the depth of the Mahogany cult, the film will be proceeded by "Mahogany Too,, a short film shot on Super 8 by Nigerian filmmaker Akosua Adoma Owusu that is a lighting retelling of Ross' film, featuring Nollywood star Esosa E.

At 9:10 on the big stage at Playhouse On The Square, an experimental documentary about Memphis' most radical band makes its world premiere. In Negro Terror, director John Rash maintains a light touch, focusing on the sights and sounds of the hardcore punk band's legendary stage show, and the words of the band's three very different members, led by Omar Higgins, an anarchist Hari Krishna devotee who is a longtime member of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP). In what is definitely a first for Indie Memphis and probably a first for just about anywhere, the band will provide a live soundtrack for the film about them as it premieres.

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