2019 Indie Memphis Film Festival Has an Array of Fare To Choose From


By Charlie Lambert

With the 22nd Annual Indie Memphis Film Festival around the corner, I find myself in a quandary. 

After studying the festival’s scope and ambitious array of over 300 films, several parties, musical events, workshops, discussions, guest appearances at most showings, and other attractions, I wonder how I can possibly describe this spectacular event adequately in this limited space. 

What began as a humble festival that was barely acknowledged by most of the city two decades ago has expanded not only to the wide film-going community, but to all aspects of our city, including the African American community. 

The variety of fare covers feature films, shorts, local productions, narratives, music videos, Halloween tributes (the classic BLACULA) and after-dark specialties among other opportunities to listen and discuss the concept of film and filmmaking with experts from all over the world. For instance, the Black Creators Forum returns for a second year offering insights into film over a 2-day symposium of speakers and workshops featuring notable black filmmakers, concluding with a public celebration on November 1. Local filmmaker Ira Sachs introduces his latest film (FRANKIE) and a 6-film retrospective of films that feature producer Sarah Driver. 

Visit the 2019 Indie Memphis website for tickets, passes, and more

Ms. Driver will be present at the festival and is bringing a 1942 “scary” film by director Jacques Tourneur called CAT PEOPLE, starring once-famous actress Simone Simon. Driver is a long-time associate of indie-icon Jim Jarmusch. Mr. Jarmusch brings his latest film (mentioned in a moment) to the festival along with a 30th Anniversary celebration of his Memphis classic Mystery Train (1989), filmed in 1988 in various Memphis locations and notably in and around the corner of South Main and Calhoun (now G.E. Patterson) at Central Station, the Arcade Restaurant and the former Arcade Hotel. In short, there is something for everyone and every taste.

Jim Jarmusch’s 1989 Mystery Train

Not to be missed are the opening night party at the brand-new Crosstown Theater in Crosstown Concourse and the new film HARRIET, the first film offering about Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and her work to save hundreds of slaves by repeated returns to the south to help others escape. HARRIET (2019) stars Jennifer Nettles in the title role and was directed by Kasi Lemmons. Jarmusch’s new film THE DEAD DON’T DIE is comedy, horror, satire from Jarmusch’s unique perspective, starring Adam Driver and one of the director’s favorites, Bill Murray. THE UNICORN from Isabelle Dupuis and Tim Geraghty is the unusual story of Peter Grudzien, a challenged, gay musician who finds his way into psychedelic country music as his “safe place.” Those who prefer shorts will find dozens of them on each day of the festival.

Clockwise from top leftImages of Jim Jarmusch, Kasi Lemmons’ HARRIET, Eli Daughdrill’s FAITH, Mati Diop’s ATLANTICS, Brad Ellis & Allen C. Gardner’s COLD FEET, and Paul Duane’s BEST BEFORE DEATH (courtesy Indie Memphis)

Most of the festival action takes place in the Overton Square community, with venues at Ballet Memphis, Malco’s Studio on the Square, Playhouse on the Square, the Hattiloo Theatre, the Circuit Playhouse, and Theatreworks. But also outside of Overton Square, locations include the Crosstown Theater (for opening night), downtown’s Malco’s Powerhouse and Ridgeway Theatres out east for encore performances of several films after the festival, on November 5, 6, and 7. 

Visit the 2019 Indie Memphis website for tickets, passes, and more

Courtesy Indie Memphis and Breezy Lucia

Passes for the festival can be purchased in regular and VIP formats. Individual tickets are also available. But there are two caveats. First, tickets are selling fast. If you want to see a film, go to the INDIE MEMPHIS Festival website and secure your tickets as soon as you can. The site has a full schedule of the festival and a separate film guide with information about each program.

And second, this annual festival is must-attend event, bringing films, audience and filmmakers together for the communal experience we can’t get in front of our television screens, and not bound by the limits of a newspaper space. Get your tickets today. <>

Visit the 2019 Indie Memphis website for tickets, passes, and more details.

An aficionado of Memphis film history, Charlie Lambert’s feature story on Hollywood history in the Bluff City appears in the special One-Year Anniversary print issue on the front page. 

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