The Oxford Virtual Film Festival announced the winners of the Hoka awards Saturday night in a Zoom session that united filmmakers from Tokyo to Mississippi.
This year's festival, originally scheduled for mid-March, was one of the first in the nation to face cancellation as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. Organizers of the 20-year-old festival acted quickly to move films, panels, and parties online, with the help of Memphis-based Eventive ticketing platform. The virtual festival ran for seven weeks, setting an example for festivals all over the world.
“In a year of so much uncertainty and figuring out how to re-invent and innovate and not just look forward to how we would do things in the future when it came to presenting and celebrating film and the people responsible for making those films, we knew it was vital to demonstrate our appreciation for the films we did select this year," says Oxford Film Festival executive director Melanie Addington. "This film festival has always tried to be a leader in our industry and this state and following through with the presentation of our awards virtually was in the plans from the beginning of our decision to pivot to our weekly virtual fests and OFF to the DRIVE-IN screening events. We are intensely proud of these films and filmmakers and are thrilled to officially recognize them as prize winners.”
The winner of the Narrative Feature Hoka is The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain, director David Midell's dramatization of a 2011 police killing of a Marine veteran in his White Plains, New York home. The award also includes a $15,000 camera rental package from Panavision.
Beat Documentary went to Hope Frozen from director Pailin Wedel, which tells the story of the youngest person ever to be cryogenically preserved, a two-year-old Thai girl who died of cancer, and the controversies that surrounded the family's decision. The Best Documentary Hoka also comes with a Panavision rental package and pro bono consultation from editor Joe Shaprio for the filmmakers.
Kyle Taubken's "The Brother's Brother" won Best Mississippi Short. Taubaken is a Memphis-based filmmaker whose "Soul Man" won Best Hometowner Narrative Short at Indie Memphis 2019. Best Mississippi Feature went to Larissa Lam for Far East Deep South. The Mississippi Documentary Feature award went to Getting To The Root by Larissa Lam.
The $15,000 Artist Vodka award, which was chosen by audience vote, went to Javier Molina for his short film "Wonder."
Best Music Documentary went to Travis Beard's Rockabul, which documented the rise of Afghanistan's first heavy metal band. Best LGBTQIA+ Feature went to From Baghdad to the Bay by director Erin Pamquist.
Giulia Gandini's "My Time" was chosen by the jury as Best Narrative Short film, while the documentary shorts jury chose Johanis Lyons-Reid, Lorcan Hopper for "The Loop." Best Music Video went to "Pain” by Bandrunna Gwaup, directed by Katrina Blair.
The Oxford Film Festival also announced the films for the inaugural weekend of their new drive-in theater located at 100 Thacker Loop in Oxford. On Thursday, June 11th, the theater will officially open with a bit of classic drive-in fare: Ed Wood's so-bad-it's-good Plan 9 From Outer Space. Friday and Saturday nights feature more serious fare with The Evers, a documentary about the family legacy of Civil Rights martyr Medgar Evers by Loki Mulholland.
Submissions are now open for Oxford Film Festival 2021.