Is the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin Bigfoot film the most closely examined and hotly debated minute of film not connected to the JFK assassination? Did the shaky, grainy footage document the existence of an elusive primate strolling through the forest, or was it a fantastic hoax or maybe a warm-up for John Chambers, the special effects artist most famous for his work on the sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes?
Chambers, whose ape masks won the Academy Award, weighed in on Patterson-Gilman in a 1997 interview. "I'm good," he said. "But not that good." Scientists and film experts who've given the footage serious attention are divided over authenticity. Fifty years after the fact, Memphis Flyer writer Toby Sells just wants to have a beer and talk about it.
"Close friends have known my paranormal side for a long time," Sells says, describing the Memphis Bigfoot Festival he's organized, with some help from Memphis Made Brewing, as his "coming-out party." Sells, who wears socks with Bigfoot on them, got hooked on Bigfoot in elementary school when he and a friend "who lived way out in the sticks" watched the low-budget 1970s "docudrama" The Legend of Boggy Creek. Then his "friend" locked him outside in the spooky country darkness.
"It creeped me out, of course. But it also ignited a wonder," Sells says. The DIY festival celebrates Patterson-Gimlin's 50th with a panel discussion, Bigfoot encounter stories, a costume contest, the debut of a new podcast, trivia, beer, and more.