The first full day for the Indie Memphis Film Festival has been thrown for a bit of a loop as the series of free screenings at the Levitt Shell in Overton Park have been cancelled due to weather concerns. The screenings — Elvis Presley's "’68 Comeback" special and The Big Lebowski will still go on, but maybe not on the original rain date of next Friday. We'll let you know when the event has been rescheduled.
The Memphis Music at SXSW documentary that was supposed to screen in between Elvis and Lebowski has been moved onto the schedule at the Brooks Museum Saturday at 3:15 p.m., replacing a planned sneak preview for the shot-in-Memphis MTV web series Savage County.
The Shell cancellations will probably send more viewers over to Studio on the Square, where a packed lineup awaits. Our picks for the day, all screenings at Studio on the Square unless otherwise noted:
Pick of the Day: Alexander the Last (7:45 p.m.)
The film's plot concerns young stage actress Alex (Jess Weixler) who, in the absence of her touring musician husband (Justin Rice), becomes attracted to her new costar, Jamie (Barlow Jacobs), in a sexually charged play she's rehearsing. Alex deflects this temptation by pushing Jamie onto her sister Hellen (Amy Seimetz). The complications that ensue are believable, deeply felt, sometimes surprising, with the aforementioned crosscutting — between two sex scenes, one "real," one "theatrical" — a cinematic and emotional centerpiece as interesting as anything I've seen on the screen this year. Swanberg will be in attendance. More on Swanberg and Alexander the Last here and here. — Chris Herrington
Feature Pick: Stingray Sam (7:45 p.m.)
Documentary Pick: Sweethearts of the Rodeo (3:15 p.m.)
Local Pick: Kentucker Audley screening (3:45 p.m., free)
Shorts Pick: Jennifer (5:45 p.m.)
These four and a half minutes are dedicated to the filmmaker’s late mother, Jennifer, and her passion for science and teaching. The film focuses on Jennifer’s participation in the attempt to connect middle school science students with the astronauts aboard the international space station. The short film comes to a climax when, after a few discouraging seconds of silence, Jennifer’s students finally make radio contact. With an interesting premise and some lovely images, the film succeeds as both a frame for the filmmaker’s bereavement and a touching gesture of love and respect. Screening with the documentary feature Naturally Obsessed, a film about molecular scientists. — Sayle
Flipside Memphis (5:30 p.m.)
A series of short documentary profiles on Memphis places, people, and cultural institutions, Live From Memphis' "Flipside Memphis" series began as a companion to Craig Brewer's $5 Cover series, but has, happily, continued on. At this screening, the Live From Memphis crew will debut 15 all-new episodes focusing on topics such as the National Ornamental Metal Museum, the Memphis Zoo, the Rock for Love benefit, and the International Folk Alliance. — Herrington
Paranormal Activity (midnight)
A last-minute edition to the festival lineup, secured with the help of Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer. This low-budget horror feature has been a big hit in early screenings and is drawing comparisons to The Blair Witch Project for bare-bones aesthetic, its creepy effectiveness, and its breakout potential. The film's premise is that it is the edited together home video footage of a young couple who set up a surveillance camera in their home to document potential paranormal activity. Brewer, who saw the film while in California filming his FX pilot Terriers, vouches strongly for this one, and he's far from alone in the film industry. Showing as a midnight movie. — Herrington