The Indie Memphis Film festival is of course a superstar event anchoring the local calendar annually, this year running October 31st to November 3rd. Executive director Erik Jambor and his team of planners pack the festival with oodles of films, natch, along with other cultural gems and goodies.
It's getting close to go-time for the fest, and Indie Memphis has made its first reveal about what attendees can expect this year: the screening of four major features — Nebraska, One Chance, Computer Chess, and Deceptive Practice.
Nebraska is helmed by Alexander Payne (The Descendants, Sideways, About Schmidt, Election). The father-and-son road comedy stars Bruce Dern (Best Actor at Cannes), Will Forte, and Bob Odenkirk, and it promises to flex its muscles at next year's Academy Awards.
One Chance is co-presented by Opera Memphis. The film by David Frankel (The Devil Wears Prada) is based on the crowd-pleasing true story of Paul Potts (played by James Corden), a nebbishy shop assistant who nursed opera-singer aspirations before hitting the big time after being discovered by Simon Cowell for Britain's Got Talent.
Andrew Bujalski's (Funny Ha Ha) Computer Chess is a true indie with lots of buzz around it. The B&W feature is set during a 1980s chess tournament and focuses on the programmers who made machines that could beat man.
Last but not least, Indie Memphis announces that it will screen Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay. The documentary by Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein focuses on the great character actor and accomplished magician (with maybe the best narrative voice on the planet) who has served as muse to the likes of David Mamet and P.T. Anderson.
The four screenings are appetizers, Jambor says, to whet the appetite in advance of the main course. Indie Memphis' big reveal comes at 7 p.m. on October 3rd at the Hi-Tone on North Cleveland. There, filmmaker Craig Brewer hosts his 2nd annual "Indie Memphis Peep Show." In addition to a complete announcement of the film lineup and trailers screened for attendees, Brewer will curate a preview of the festival with live music and — since this is Brewer — no brief amount of burlesque.
"Craig Brewer's Indie Memphis Peep Show" will run you $50. But with an Indie Memphis membership also costing $50, the good news is that a membership gets you into the peep show for free, gets you into the festival, plus free admission to all Indie Memphis, all the time.
That's part two and underscores what Indie Memphis has evolved to become: Beyond just a one-shot festival each year, Indie Memphis is a tent-pole for a plethora of regular cinematic programming throughout the year.
Among those events are the brand-new Southern Circuit Film Series, which features special screenings at Studio on the Square of independent features and documentaries, along with filmmakers in attendance for Q&A sessions, sponsored by the Department of Communication at the University of Memphis. The next one is October 16th: Birth of the Living Dead, about the making and impact of Night of the Living Dead. It's free for members.
Also free for members, the return of the Alloy Orchestra, on October 10th. Last year, the orchestra screened Metropolis. This year, they will perform the score to Lon Chaney's silent clown drama, He Who Gets Slapped.
There's nothing that isn't great about that last sentence.