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Hollywood Comes to Mississippi this Weekend for the Inaugural Clarksdale Film Festival January 25, 2011

Posted by David W. King in Uncategorized.
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Clarksdale, Mississippi– The downtown revitalization continues in historic Clarksdale, Mississippi, as the Clarksdale Film Festival rolls into town this Thursday through Sunday, January 27-30. The brand-new event will celebrate the film, art, music, and culture of the Mississippi region with movie screenings and more at Delta Cinemas and other local venues.

A comprehensive schedule and details are available on-line at http://www.jukejointfestival.com/film_fest.php.

“Clarksdale is going to come alive this weekend — no matter the weather,” according to Nan Hughes, co-organizer of the festival and president of the Clarksdale Downtown Development Association (CDDA). “We have over two dozen films, many of the filmmakers, live blues music and even Mississippi football star Marcus Dupree coming to make the weekend extra special. We are very excited and pleased by all of the interest and support our first-year event has received so far.”

Organized by the same CDDA non-profit group that puts on Clarksdale’s successful Juke Joint Festival each April, the new Clarksdale Film Festival plans to launch with a bang by featuring up-close-and-personal filmmaker introductions, Q&As, and more in addition to the multiple screenings. Special guests include the makers of “Raiders of the Lost Ark: Adaptation,” “Prom Night in Mississippi” and “The Best That Never Was” as well as some of the weekend’s film stars like bluesman Bobby Rush and football player Dupree.

“Basically, each night of the festival, we are hosting a main feature that includes a special introduction and Q&A,” explained Roger Stolle, co-organizer of the festival. “It really makes a film screening memorable when some of the folks who created it are on hand to talk about it. In addition to the nighttime guests, we’ll also have daytime guests like filmmakers Gregory Sabatini, Willy Bearden and others visiting.”

The Clarksdale Film Festival kicks off on Thursday night with live blues and a festival welcome in the Delta Cinemas lobby at 11 Third Street at 6pm. On Friday and Saturday, movies run in both Delta Cinemas theaters all day long. The festival concludes on Sunday with two encore screenings at Delta Cinemas.

But that’s not all. There will be additional film screenings and musical events around town to make the long weekend even bigger and better.

“Our mission is to bring more business and attention to downtown Clarksdale,” said Goldie Hirsberg, another co-organizer of the event. “At night you’ll find related music at the clubs, and all weekend long, you can enjoy our casual ‘Restaurant Film Series’ at several popular eateries like Madidi, Rust, Stone Pony, Bluesberry Cafe and Delta Amusement Cafe. Then, on Sunday, don’t miss two classic Tennessee Williams films at the historic Bank Building at 2nd and Yazoo, downtown, starting at 1pm.”

For visiting international blues fans, the film festival will feature around a dozen blues and music documentaries, and at night, local venues like Ground Zero Blues Club, Red’s Lounge and Bluesberry Cafe will feature live blues performances for most of the weekend. The schedule is on the film festival web site. (Note: Individual music cover charges apply.)

While the Clarksdale Film Festival’s screenings and music celebrate the region’s living history, another festival activity will celebrate the area’s rich past.

On Saturday at 12 noon and 1:30pm, Clarksdale historian Robert Birdsong will offer movie history bus tours as part of that day’s film festival admittance ticket.

“Mr. Birdsong is a walking encyclopedia of Clarksdale and Mississippi history,” according to Stolle. “He’ll narrate our bus tours of Clarksdale, pointing out where all of the old theaters used to be, where movies may have been filmed in the past, Tennessee Williams history, blues venues, historical markers and more. He’s also great about fielding questions, so if folks want to know more about something — from Native American to Civil Rights history — just ask him. The bus tours will leave from Delta Cinemas, and we ask that interested parties arrive at least 15 minutes prior to departure.”

The Clarksdale Film Festival runs Thursday-Sunday, January 27-30.

Pre-sale “weekend pass” tickets for the Clarksdale Film Festival itself are available through this Thursday for $10 at Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, 252 Delta Avenue, downtown. Individual tickets will also be available for $5 per day at Delta Cinema, starting Thursday at 5:30pm. Weekend passes to Delta Cinemas will also be available. Details are at http://www.jukejointfestival.com/film_fest.php.

The Clarksdale Film Festival wishes to thank its main sponsors, including Clarksdale-Coahoma County Tourism, City of Clarksdale, Downtown Business Association, Clarksdale Revitalization, Miss Del’s General Store, Sound Center, Pharr Brothers Advertising, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, and the Clarksdale Downtown Development Association.

“We are looking forward to seeing a real nice local turnout in addition to all of our out-of-town visitors,” added Hughes. “The seating is ‘first-come first-serve,’ so everyone should plan to arrive early. We recommend that attendees take advantage of our ‘weekend pass,’ so they can see as many films as they want all weekend long.”

CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL SCHEDULE:

THURSDAY JAN 27
DELTA CINEMAS LOBBY:
5:30pm – doors open; ticket/merchandise sales
6pm – Cadillac John & Bill Abel perform live blues

MAIN THEATER (Delta Cinemas):
7pm – “Festival Welcome” by organizers – Clarksdale Downtown Development Association
7:15pm – Raiders Of The Lost Ark: Adaptation – Clarksdale premiere with introduction and Q&A by Mississippi filmmakers Eric Zala and Chris Strompolos. Shot-for-shot remake of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark, made by teen-age boys in Mississippi over the course of seven years.

FRIDAY JAN 28
DELTA CINEMAS LOBBY:
All day – ticket/merchandise sales
6pm – Pre-Prom Night in Mississippi reception with blues by Sean Apple.

UPSTAIRS THEATER (Delta Cinemas):
11am-3pm (approx.) – Barefoot Workshops: Clarksdale Retrospective, Part I – First retrospective of film shorts shot over the past few years highlighting fascinating cultural aspects of Clarksdale / Coahoma County residents, businesses, blues music and history.

3:15pm – Selections from Music in the Hall: Volume I – Brand-new concert film compilation from Oxford, Mississippi, featuring Shannon McNally, Cary Hudson, South Memphis String Band, Kenny Brown, Amy LaVere, Jimbo Mathus’s Mosquitoville and more.

4:30pm – Full Moon Lightnin’ – John Gardiner’s award-winning documentary offers two intertwining blues stories – one of NYC bluesman Floyd Lee’s return to his native Mississippi Delta and one of his guitarist Joel Poluck’s concurrent personal tragedies; partly shot in Clarksdale.

6:15pm – The Blues – Robert Gibbons’ amazing archival The Blues film comes to us via Canadian television circa 1966 and features rare interviews and performance by Mississippi natives Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Otis Span, Sunnyland Slim, Bukka White, Big Joe Williams and more.

8pm – One Night at Red’s – Clarksdale premiere! Mississippi Spoonman performs live at Clarksdale’s own legendary juke joint, Red’s Lounge, with special guest like Clarksdale’s Big Jack Johnson.

MAIN THEATER (Delta Cinemas):

Noon – Down to the Crossroads: Volume I – Big Star Media presents blues-rocker George Thorogood and blues sax legend Eddie Shaw filmed live at Clarksdale’s own Ground Zero Blues Club by Vincent Productions; award-nominated film includes music and interviews. Filmmaker Q&A after.

1pm – Standing the Test of Time: Bobby Rush – Special guest: Bobby Rush, himself! Clarksdale premiere of Peter Carlson’s acclaimed film biography of legendary blues artist Bobby Rush. His history is told through interviews with friends and artists such as Bobby Bland, Steven Seagal, Lonnie Brooks, and others.

2:45pm – M for Mississippi: A Road Trip through the Birthplace of the Blues – Filmed partly in Clarksdale, the award-winning M for Mississippi follows two blues fans on a fun and fantastic road trip to visit the region’s craziest bluesmen and juke joints. Filmmaker Q&A after with Roger Stolle.

5pm – Big Shoes: Walking and Talking the Blues – Legendary music filmmaker (Deep Blues, Blues Divas) Robert Mugge’s newest offering stars the Scissormen – a modern blues band based on tradition – as they play, tour and talk blues history. Introduction/Q&A with Scissormen’s Ted Drozdowski. (The Scissormen will also perform a short, acoustic set at Cat Head, 252 Delta Ave., on Saturday at 1pm.)

7pm – Prom Night in Mississippi – Filmmakers Paul Saltzman and Patricia Aquino present the award-winning true story of actor Morgan Freeman’s offer to pay for Prom Night in Charleston, Mississippi. There’s one hitch, though. The historically separate white and black proms must integrate. Clarksdale premiere with introduction/Q&A featuring the filmmakers plus a very special mini-Beyond Prejudice Workshop after. (Note: 6pm pre-screening reception in lobby, courtesy of Miss Del’s General Store.)

SATURDAY JAN 29

DELTA CINEMAS LOBBY:
All day – ticket/merchandise sales
6pm – Acoustic blues in lobby by Sean Apple.

HISTORY BUS TOURS (Sat only):

Historian Robert Birdsong takes you on a fascinating film & theater bus tour of Clarksdale. (First come, first serve.)

Noon – Wait for bus at Delta Cinemas, 11:45am.

1:30pm – Wait for bus at Delta Cinemas, 1:15pm.

UPSTAIRS THEATER (Delta Cinemas):

11am-3pm (approx.) – Barefoot Workshops: Clarksdale Retrospective, Part II – Retrospective of film shorts shot over the past few years continues… highlighting fascinating cultural aspects of Clarksdale / Coahoma County residents, businesses, blues music and history.

3:15pm – 3 Film Shorts: Lukos (Michael Williams), Faithful Departed (Daniel Lee), Shudder House (Joey Dello Russo) – Three haunting film shorts in 45 frightful minutes, featuring strong Mississippi ties (filmmakers, locations and/or music).

4pm – Dedan le Sud de la Louisiane (In the South of Louisiana) – A Southern music movie classic by French filmmaker de Jean-Pierre Bruneau featuring a beautifully shot, travelogue study of Cajun music and culture, circa 1974.

5pm – The Story of Cotton – Willy Bearden and Deep Delta Films presents The Story of Cotton – a history forever tied the Delta and Deep South; documentary features archival photos, contemporary interviews and more. Introduction/Q&A by the filmmaker.

6:15pm – One Came Home – Clarksdale premiere of feature film by Mississippi-born Willy Bearden (shown here as part of a Bearden double-feature), One Came Home is a powerful drama full of love and lies set in Magnolia, Mississippi, circa 1946. Introduction/Q&A by the filmmaker.

8pm – The Blues – Encore presentation… Robert Gibbons’ amazing archival The Blues film comes to us via Canadian television circa 1966 and features rare interviews and performance by Mississippi natives Muddy Waters, Willie Dixon, Otis Span, Sunnyland Slim, Bukka White and more.

MAIN THEATER (Delta Cinemas):

Noon – Let Your Feet Do the Talkin’ – Stewart Copeland’s deeply personal look at buckdancing legend Thomas Maupin – one of the South’s last, great old-time dancers. (Presented in part by Dust-To-Digital.)

12:45pm – Smoke & Ears – Joe York’s film short about a Jackson, Mississippi, institution – the pig ear sandwiches at The Big Apple Inn. (Presented in part by Scott Barretta.)

1:15pm – Hill Country Blues Picnic – Enjoy a sampling of Kenny Brown’s now-legendary Hill Country Blues Picnic, filmed in Potts Camp, Mississippi, and featuring several North Mississippi blues favorites.

2:30pm – Selections from Music in the Hall: Volume I – Encore presentation of a new concert film compilation from Oxford, Mississippi, featuring Shannon McNally, Cary Hudson, South Memphis String Band, Kenny Brown, Amy LaVere, Jimbo Mathus’s Mosquitoville and more.

3:45pm – Hard Times – A film by Damien Blaylock and Roger Stolle in which Big George Brock tells his fascinating “Mississippi blues gone North” story through archival photos, live blues performances and contemporary interviews; filmed partly in Clarksdale. Filmmaker Q&A after.

5pm – Blues: Mississippi’s Gift to the World – Clarksdale premiere of these wonderful film shorts courtesy of the B.B. King Museum in Indianola, Mississippi.

6pm – Falsifyn’ – Greg Sabatino’s rollicking boogie-woogie piano film – shot at Clarksdale’s Ground Zero Blues Club and starring Jerry Lee Lewis, Pinetop Perkins, Marcia Ball and Henry Gray. Introduction/Q&A by the filmmaker.

7pm – The Best That Never Was – Jonathan Hock’s stirring story of Philadelphia, Mississippi’s football prodigy Marcus Dupree. Using archival footage and contemporary interviews, The Best That Never Was tells a spine-tingling tale of triumph, failure and redemption. (Recently part of ESPN’s acclaimed “30 For 30” series.) Filmmaker introduction – plus a very special Q&A after featuring Best’s Director of Photography Alastair Christopher and the football star himself – Marcus Dupree.

SUNDAY JAN 30

MAIN THEATER (Delta Cinemas):

Noon – One Night at Red’s – Encore presentation of Mississippi Spoonman performs live at Clarksdale’s own legendary juke joint, Red’s Lounge, with special guest like Clarksdale’s “Oil Man,” Big Jack Johnson.

1pm – Dedan le Sud de la Louisiane (In the South of Louisiana) – Encore presentation of a Southern music movie classic by French filmmaker de Jean-Pierre Bruneau featuring a beautifully shot, travelogue study of Cajun music and culture, circa 1974.

RELATED EVENTS NEARBY…

SOUNDS AROUND TOWN

(in addition to nightly 6pm blues in Delta Cinemas lobby, look for…):

THURS – Rust Restaurant (TBA, 7pm), Red’s Lounge (All Night Long Blues Band, 9pm) and Ground Zero Blues Club (Blues Jam w/Stan Street, 8pm)

FRI – Ground Zero Blues Club (Terry “Big T” Williams, 9pm) and Red’s Lounge (Jeff Norwood Blues Band, 9pm)

SAT – Cat Head store (Scissormen, 1pm), Red’s Lounge (Anthony “Big A” Sherrod, 9pm), Bluesberry Café (Watermelon Slim, 9pm) and Ground Zero Blues Club (TCB Blues Band, 9pm).

RESTAURANT FILM SERIES

(casual, TV screenings of popular movies as you drink or dine):

Delta Amusement Café – Breakfast-themed movies for breakfast, 9am Friday & Saturday.

Stone Pony – Sports-themed movies for lunchtime, 11:30am Friday & Saturday.

Madidi – Morgan Freeman movies for happy hour, 5:30pm Friday & Saturday.

Lady at the Levee – Mississippi-connected family movies, 6pm Friday & Saturday.

Rust Restaurant – Mississippi literary movies for dinner, 6:30pm Friday & Saturday.

THE BANK BUILDING

(the new special event venue at 2nd & Yazoo, downtown): An Afternoon of Tennessee Williams Films. Celebrate the former Clarksdale resident with a couple of his greatest plays brought to life on the silver screen – Baby Doll and Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. Sunday, January 30 at 1pm and 3pm (approx.). Located at The Bank Building, 123 East Second Street.
OTHER POINTS OF INTERESTinclude the Delta Blues Museum, Rock & Blues Museum, Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, etc.

NOTE: Clarksdale Film Festival schedule subject to change. Film festival tickets valid for Delta Cinemas, Movie History Bus Tours and The Bank Building only. Nighttime music venues have separate cover charges.

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