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Indie Memphis presents Black Creators Forum and Indie Memphis Film Festival

by Brianna Smith-Herman —

Brianna Smith-Herman (Courtesy photo)

Indie Memphis Film Festival presented the 4th Annual Black Creators Forum (BCF) Oct. 15-16.

The forum is series of workshops, discussions and speakers led by notable Black critics and industry professionals. The forum’s goal is “to ease the barrier of entry for Black artists who would like to work in film.”

The virtual event preceded the opening of the Indie Memphis Film Festival, which began Wednesday (Oct. 20) and continues through Monday (Oct. 25). 

BCF is a welcomed effort by Indie Memphis to push inclusion and diversity in the film industry. 

In Memphis, where African Americans make up 64 percent of the population, this just makes sense. Our stories need to be told, heard and amplified. 

“Finding My Roots: The Tale of Two Carries”: Carrie Bernans, named after her grandma and great-grandma Carrie, is on a quest to “find her roots.” From Memphis to the #Mississippi Delta, it’s a journey of faith and perseverance. (Screen capture, www.indiememphis.org)

“I feel so full, so grateful, so inspired and enlightened by having intimate conversations with other filmmakers,” said actress Carrie Bernans.

“My short-film documentary ‘Finding My Roots: Tale of Two Carries’ will be premiering in the Indie Film Festival on October 24.”

The Indie Memphis Film Festival will feature a hybrid of virtual and in-person theatrical screenings. 

Indie Memphis’ Artistic Director Miriam Bale and fellow programmer Kayla Myers are bringing their unique life perspectives and tastes to the table to create a more inclusive program overall.

The festival is resolute in its mission of highlighting BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and people of color) and female filmmakers, offering a wonderful combination of new discoveries and festival favorites. 

Indie Memphis Film Festival, presented by Duncan Williams, Inc., promises to be a very exciting and wildly varied one, featuring films ranging from new discoveries to beloved classics, from festival hits to experimental wonders and everything in-between. 

“The Pill”: An African-American family indulges in the use of a secret pill that helps them cope with the day-to-day stressors of racism outside of their home. (Screen capture, www.indiememphis.org)

“I am incredibly excited by what we are offering this year with the festival,” said Indie Memphis Executive Director Knox Shelton, “The programming is stellar and, in terms of how we’ve planned the festival, we hope that we have found ways for people to celebrate independent filmmaking based on their comfort level. 

“We understand that there is no perfect way to do this, but we’ve taken steps to ensure the health and safety of our filmmakers, attendees, volunteers and staff.”

“The Devil Will Run”: When a self-reliant seven-year-old discovers a hole in his backyard, he fears it’s where the Devil lives. (Screen capture, www.indiememphis.org)

In the quest to reach a large audience while taking COVID-19 precautions, this year’s festival will be a hybrid of online and in-person screenings and events.

For in-person Memphis screenings and events, proof of COVID-19 vaccine is required for all staff, volunteers, contractors and attendees. Masks are required at all times indoors. 

As there is every year, the festival features screenings of the highly anticipated “Hometowner” section of films — all from Memphis filmmakers. 

These films include George Tillman’s “The Lucky Eleven,” a documentary about a group of 11 young men from South Memphis, who began their journey in junior high school and made their way to the NFL, and A.D. Smith’s “Killer,” a narrative feature about 10 friends, who decide to quarantine under the same roof during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unfortunately, one of them is a killer.)

“We’re honored to be introducing these titles to Memphis audiences,” said Artistic Director Bale. “I’m confident many of these are classics that will be talked about for a long time to come. We aim to have a collection of films that is winnowed down to the best of year, and I think this line-up reflects that.”   

The opening night film is Sean Baker’s Cannes favorite “Red Rocket,” starring Simon Rex as a porn star who returns to his Texas hometown that barely tolerates him.

The centerpiece presentation is Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s “Drive My Car,” a film adapted from a Haruki Murakami short story in which an aging actor can no longer drive, so he hires a quiet 20-year-old girl as his chauffeur.

The closing night feature is Pablo Larrain’s “Spencer,” a film imagining one weekend in the life of Princess Diana (Kristen Stewart), as she spends the Christmas holiday with the royal family at the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, and decides to leave her marriage to Prince Charles. 

In between those films you have choices upon choices.

Some additional standout titles include Robert Greene’s “Procession,” a documentary about a group of survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic priests battle for justice, and Rhayne Vermette’s “Ste. Anne,” a drama that traces an allegorical reclamation of land through personal, symbolic and historical sites.

Go to the film guide (https://www.indiememphis.org/2021-festival-home) and follow along.

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