The 13th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival kicks off tonight and will run for four packed days at a handful of Midtown venues. We survey the festival in this week's cover story, but will also be offering up our own interactive daily guide each morning of the festival. So check back here throughout the next four days for tons of fest coverage. For a full schedule and ticketing info, see IndieMemphis.com.
Pick of the Day: Night Catches Us (9:30 p.m., Studio on the Square)
Hamilton delivers an honest reckoning with the contradictions and complications of the Black Power movement in a portrait that is sad but not romanticized. The film also boasts a score from hip-hop stalwarts the Roots that rivals The Social Network as the year's most effective movie music. Night Catches Us was acquired by Magnolia Pictures, which will release it via movies-on-demand later this month and give it a theatrical run starting in December. One of the year's best indie features, and here's an early chance to see it. — Chris Herrington
Feature Pick: The Grace Card (6:30 p.m., Playhouse on the Square)
The film, which concerns an uneasy partnership between two beat cops, one black (an engaging Michael Higgenbottom) and one white (Michael Joiner), hits some nice notes about the city, touching on such crucial civic topics as race, law enforcement, and religion. It may be the only local feature to take note of the city's shifting racial and ethnic demographics, but the film undercuts its early authenticity with a trio of preposterous second-half plot twists. And the film's rather self-congratulatory theme of racial reconciliation is not without its problems: Here, that means putting the onus on black forgiveness while glossing over exactly why that forgiveness might be needed.
Evans and his Graceworks Pictures will host an opening reception for the festival from 5-6 p.m.in the Playhouse lobby. — Herrington
Documentary Pick: Beijing Punk/Antenna: Origins (6:45 p.m., Studio on the Square)
“The Antenna was more than just the coolest club in the city for more than a decade,” he says. “It represented total artistic freedom, acted as a magnet for creative people of all descriptions, and set the norms for the Midtown music culture we know today. It was, as Ross Johnson says, 'A place where you could pretend to be a punk rocker.'"
Antenna: Origins, which teams filmmaker McCoy with writer John Floyd and musician Johnson, is only a sneak peek at a work-in-progress. It is screening in conjunction with Beijing Punk, shot by Australian filmmaker Shaun Jefford on the eve of the Chinese city's hosting the 2008 summer Olympics. The film asks an interesting question: “What happens when 1.6 billion Chinese discover punk? It was only a matter of time before punk took root in China, an oppressive factory culture not known for embracing dissent. Nearly 40 years after the original punk explosion, Jefford’s camera captures a squalid, familiar scene that revolves around street fashion, politics, substance abuse, and loud, throbbing music. The music is great, although it’s entirely derivative. But this film is best when it hints at an inevitable clash between the canny, if sometimes pickled, artists and an oppressive government that’s already expressing concerns. Punk, as usual, sounds a little too much like freedom. — Chris Davis
Antenna doc trailer:
Local Pick: Open Five (9 p.m., Playhouse on the Square)
Shorts Pick: Where Are the Evil Spirits Were: The Rise and Fall of Black Lodge Video (9:15 p.m., Studio on the Square)
Okay, so we haven't seen this misleadingly titled documentary short about Cooper-Young's Black Lodge Video. But since our love for the Lodge is unconditional, we have no problem recommending anything associated with it. Screening in conjunction with the feature Drones.
Wildcard Pick: Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child (7 p.m., Brooks Museum of Art)