February 14, 2010 12:42:00 AM
When late filmmaker Ron Tibbett began The Magnolia Independent Film Festival 13 years ago in the Golden Triangle, he established Mississippi''s first such outlet for independently produced work.
On Feb. 18-20, the Starkville Area Arts Council continues the tradition by showcasing 35 films submitted from as close to home as Columbus, Starkville and West Point -- and as far away as Canada, Spain and Italy.
The three-day event represents a stepping stone for filmmakers aspiring to be accepted by the Sundance Film Festival and on to Hollywood.
From the nine-minute "Jesus Mi Jesus" to the 90-minute "The Darkness Within," the selection of films to be screened during four separate sessions at Hollywood Premier Cinema in Starkville offers a wide variety of subject and technique.
"You''re going to get the chance to see movies here that you wouldn''t be able to see on a normal night at the movies," said Joe Evans of Starkville, chair of this year''s festival. "You''re going to see comedies, dramas, all kinds of films from filmmakers all over the United States, plus we have several Canadian films and eight Spanish films in our selection this year. Some of these films are brilliant, just brilliant."
Tibbett''s original vision fuels The Mag''s continuation.
"We feel it''s our job to preserve Ron''s legacy," Evans stated. "He was so big on promoting and helping out (independent) filmmakers. Ron really started something when he started this. Now there are four or five festivals around the state, and a growing festival community."
Films will be shown Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m., and also Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m. Admission for each approximately three-hour session is $10. Audiences will be treated to question-and-answer sessions with some of the filmmakers after the screenings, as well.
A free seminar on camera technique, open to the public, will be offered Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Hollywood Premier Cinema.
Four short films from the Golden Triangle are part of this year''s festival. They include "Parted," submitted by Michael Williams of West Point and scheduled to be shown Feb. 18 in the 7 p.m. session; "The Mistake," created by Mississippi University for Women student April Wren of Fulton (Friday, 7 p.m. session); "Laissez-Faire," submitted by Stephen Williams and Cole Andrews of Starkville (Saturday, 2 p.m. session); and "The Flight of Calvin Waters," written and directed by Andrew Colom (Saturday, 7 p.m. session).
"There''s a small clutch of filmmakers from this area who have really gotten involved," Evans noted.
"We''re really proud to be the oldest film festival in Mississippi," he added. "I''ve found since I''ve gotten involved that we have a really solid reputation in the film festival community. There are people all over the country who know about The Mag. A lot of people did a lot of good work before I got here to make this what it is."
A schedule of films will soon be posted on the festival''s Web site, www.magfilmfest.com/. For more information about The Mag, e-mail Evans at email@example.com, or call 662-418-5633.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.