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VOL. 132 | NO. 194 | Friday, September 29, 2017

Kicking It Up a Notch: Indie Memphis Unveils Fall Lineup

By Andy Meek

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After helping host a preview party this week that served as the unveiling of the full lineup of this year’s Indie Memphis Film Festival, festival executive director Ryan Watt was confident enough about what’s coming to declare the organization has taken things to a new level this year.

Ryan Watt

“We’ve got some big guests, a more public function to the festival this year and then also the programming - I think it’s one of the strongest we’ve ever had,” Watt said about this year’s festival, the 20th anniversary edition of the event.

The Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc. is set to run Nov. 1-6. The programming announced this week includes a lineup of dozens of films and shorts and passes are on sale now.

Passholders are granted early access to film tickets starting Sept. 26 before they go on sale to the general public Oct. 10.

Opening the festival will be Oliver Butler and Will Eno’s “Thom Pain,” starring actor Rainn Wilson - a fixture on NBC’s sitcom “The Office.” Wilson will attend the Memphis screening along with Eno and Butler.

Wrapping up the event on closing night will be “Tip of My Tongue,” a documentary from Lynne Sachs, the sister of film director Ira Sachs.

In addition to the competition films, there’s also a special salute to independent director Abel Ferrara, who’s coming to Memphis for a film salute that includes the 25th anniversary screening of his police thriller “Bad Lieutenant” and a 20th anniversary screening of “The Blackout.”

Indie Memphis has also added the international premier of Ferrara’s film “Alive in France” as well as a performance of his band Flyz following that screening as well as at the Hi-Tone on Nov. 5.

The band is made up of Abel’s long time collaborators, the composer Joe Delia, actor and singer Paul Hipp and Abel’s wife and actress Cristina Chiriac. His background singers “The Dirty Blondes” include PJ Delia and Mia Babalis.

Also teed up are a special sidebar of shorts featuring the work of filmmakers from Saudi Arabia, a block party and a sneak peak at Craig Brewer’s new television series “The You Look Like Show,” which features two comics facing off in an insult battle in which they’re required to start with “You Look Like…”

On a more serious note, Indie Memphis is also working with the National Civil Rights Museum to present MLK50, a special slate of old and new films to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The films were also chosen to address the legacies both completed and unfinished connected to Dr. King’s work.

“As far as the programming, MLK50 is a big thing,” Watt said. “As far as the structure of the festival itself, we’re also excited about the block party. We’re shutting down a block of Cooper Avenue for three days straight.

“There’ll be a giant 100-foot tent in the middle of the street,” he said. “A huge 24-foot screen. For the first time, this is an event the public can just walk up to.”

The block party will be held Nov. 3-5 and will close off traffic along Cooper between Union and Monroe Aves.

Among other features of this year’s festival lineup:

• The Memphis premiere of “Thank You, Friends: Big Star’s Third Live … And More.” It features a cast of musicians like Robyn Hitchcock and members of R.E.M. and Wilco. Big Star drummer Jody Stephens will also be in attendance.

• A series of shorts will showcase the Memphis Grizzlies fan experience from the female perspective. The audiences will vote for the winner, and a discussion will also be held with women who love the team.

• Two Saudi filmmakers are traveling to Memphis for screenings and talks as part of the “Desert to the Delta” cultural exchange, in partnership with the University of Memphis. The shorts will highlight the fact that a film community is growing in the country with support from the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture arts center in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.

More information about the festival including details about the lineup can be found at IndieMemphis.com.

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