The Oxford Film Festival has announced a lineup of 158 films for its 2021 edition. This year's festival will be an online/in-person hybrid running March 24-28 and April 1-30. Last year, OFF, led by Melanie Addington, was forced to pioneer the pandemic film festival format while the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic made gathering in person too dangerous. This year, screenings will happen in person for one weekend, March 24-28, at a special outdoor theater created by Malco at the Oxford Commons and a drive-in at Oxford High School. Then, the films will be available virtually on the Eventive platform, which was created by a Memphis-based company.
“As we continue to prepare for next month’s film festival, we want to be very clear about the aggressive steps we are taking in order to make our film festival safe so our patrons can begin to get back to enjoying the movie going experience in the company of other people again,” says executive director Melanie Addington. “Therefore, we are being very careful with a measured approach utilizing the open-air theater we have designed specifically for this purpose—with safety always first, so we all can enjoy one of the best group of films we have ever had this year. We have spent the past year safely providing films via drive-in and will include that experience in this year’s festival. We will monitor COVID and weather concerns and will make changes as needed closer to the event.”
Among the festival's spotlight screenings is the documentary Horton Foote: The Road To Home. The filmmakers filmed the award-winning screenwriter and playwright at age 90 to piece together the highlights of his seven decade career, which included creating the screenplays for To Kill A Mockingbird, Tender Mercies, and The Trip to Bountiful.
On the narrative side, artist-turned-director Olivia Peace's debut comedy Tahara deals with the confusion and exhilaration of two best friends who can't quite decide if they're in love or not.
OFF's headlining throwback screening is from one of Mississippi's greatest artists. In 1986, Jim Henson, creator of The Muppets, teamed up with Lucasfilm for a mind-bender. Labyrinth stars David Bowie as the Goblin King Jareth, who kidnaps the baby bother of ordinary girl Jennifer Connelly. The revered fantasy classic is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year.
The competition films include Jake Mahaffy's arthouse horror Reunion, produced by Memphian Adam Hohenberg.