Choosing the right setting is important for a filmmaker’s finished product, so it’s perhaps fitting that the setting is one reason organizers of this year’s Indie Memphis Film Festival are preparing for another big year.
The 16th annual festival – a four-day event running from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3 that will include more than 45 feature films – will benefit this year from continued growth in the Overton Square district, where the festival’s films will be shown on five screens.
Beyond the aspect of the festival directly related to the silver screen, more restaurants and businesses have opened their doors in and around the square since the last time the lights dimmed and movie lovers huddled in front of the festival’s screens.
The festival this year also will show a few free outdoor movies from the new tower courtyard behind Memphis Pizza Cafe on the festival’s Friday night, according to Indie Memphis executive director Erik Jambor.
And there’s more to come. Jambor said additional plans that have not yet been announced will be revealed soon.
“The parking deck at Overton Square also is now complete, so it’ll be a much easier experience for people to come down and stay through the weekend,” Jambor said, referring to the 451-space parking garage that opened this month. “And with the three venues where we’re showing movies, it forces people to walk around and creates a nice pedestrian environment in the area, so that’s a key factor for what we’re trying to create. It’s nice to see the growth of the festival has matched the redevelopment of Overton Square.”
Duncan-Williams Inc. is again the festival’s presenting sponsor, and $6,000 in cash awards and prizes will be given out, along with award sculptures designed by local artist Yvonne Bobo. Films will be screened at Playhouse on the Square, Circuit Playhouse and Malco Theatres’ Studio on the Square.
Special guests scheduled to appear during the festival include actor Harry Lennix, who can be seen on NBC’s “The Blacklist,” and horror film director Ti West. Jambor specifically pointed to guests like those as another example of the festival’s growth.
“We have more talent coming in this year,” Jambor said. “I think all across the board, it’s a really exciting year. From the higher-profile gala and showcase screenings all the way down through to the competition features, there’s a lot of great films people will be able to connect with at a variety of different levels.”
Attendees will be able to participate in Q-and-A sessions with filmmakers and special guests after many of the screenings. The other thing Jambor stresses is that it’s a pass-based festival, giving attendees who buy a pass the freedom to wander and check out the things that interest them.
The festival has been ranked previously as one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” by MovieMaker magazine and named a “Top 20 Event” by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Among the highlights this year and films coming into the festival with buzz, “August: Osage County,” will be shown at 6:15 p.m. Nov. 1 at Playhouse on the Square. Its stars include Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Ewan McGregor.
On Nov. 3 at 4 p.m., festivalgoers can check out “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” starring Idris Elba.