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Indie Memphis Daily Pick: Tuesday

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The Indie Memphis Film Festival continues today at Muvico’s Peabody Place theatre with a double feature of local award winners, both feature films by first-time African-American filmmakers. Keenon Nikita’s Just the Two of Us, which won the award for Best Narrative Feature in the festival’s Hometowner competition, screens at 6:15 p.m. Afterward, at 8:45 p.m., Rod Pitts, who won the festival’s award for Most Promising Filmmaker, screens his feature What Goes Around …. Click headline to see what Flyer critics thought of these films, or see the Indie Memphis Web site for more information on the festival.

Just the Two of Us: written and directed and starring Memphis actor/author Keenon Nikita, tells a semi-autobiographical tale about one man’s search for love and success in Memphis. Based on Nikita’s book, Single Black Father, the film is sweet-natured and often quite funny as it follows Nick, a hard-working man clocking overtime to give his daughter a good life. Things spiral out of control when Nick turns his attention away from his daughter and allows himself to follow his dream of becoming an author. Just the Two of Us is a debut for Nikita, who got his start in film playing a hilarious car thief in Craig Brewer’s first feature film, The Poor & Hungry. — Chris Davis

What Goes Around …:The end of the credits for What Goes Around … states, “No animals, crackheads, or film geeks were harmed in the making of this film.” I can’t say I remember seeing any crackheads, and I’m pretty sure there weren’t any animals, but such are the quality and interests of the film that there’s no doubt it’s full of film geeks. The story is simple and universal: Talal (Patrick Henry) has been with girlfriend Marie (Chris Brown) for years, but realizes he’s philophobic — afraid of commitment. It isn’t so much Talal’s feet that are clay as his heart. When he meets Angela (Lisa Miller), he’s smitten and drops Marie for her, an action that has unforeseen and heartbreaking consequences. The film bursts with Chow Yun Fat and Rudy Ray Moore references and, in featuring the now-defunct Parallax Video as a location, provides a fitting coda to that downtown establishment. Best of all, Memphis has never looked so romantic as when Talal and Angela hit the town on a first date, their burgeoning relationship captured with black-and-white photography and Billie Holiday’s “Solitude” washing over it all. It doesn’t seem so hard to imagine the Bluff City as New York in a ’40s or ’50s film. — Greg Akers

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