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In addition to the Spirit of the Hoka, we will also present the Lisa Blount Memorial acting award to the strongest independent performance that shows an actor or an actress willing to take risks for their art. Lisa Blount, an award winning actress from Arkansas, was nominated for a Golden Globe in 1983 for her breakout role in An Officer and a Gentleman, and received the Best Actress prize at the 2004 Stockholm Film Festival for her lead role in the independent feature film Chrystal. Along with her husband Ray McKinnon and co-producer Walton Goggins, Lisa took home an Academy Award for their Live Action Short “The Accountant.” Lisa passed away in 2010, not long after agreeing to be a juror for our 2011 festival.
All films in the lineup – including those not in competition – are eligible for the coveted Ron Tibbett Audience Award, named for the founding director of the Magnolia Film Festival in Starkville, the first independent film festival in Mississippi. Tibbett died in 2004 in a car accident just over a year after his shot film “Buffalo Common” debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. This award will be announced online after the festival ends on Sunday, February 24.
Kim Voynar, a long-time film critic for Movie City News, began transitioning into filmmaking last year with her short film, Bunker. She is currently producing projects in the realm of gaming and epic fantasy drama for Hostile Work Environment, a production company founded by former Wizards of the Coast owner Peter Adkison.
Lee Caplin, produced the $125 million Sony/Columbia Pictures release Ali, starring Will Smith. His company, Picture Entertainment, is the feature film production entity for the works of William Faulkner, and PMC, the media company he co-founded, owns the magazine Variety.
Elizabeth Dollarhide, has worked in film and video for twenty years. After working on several projects in Mississippi, Chicago and Baltimore, she moved to Los Angeles where she managed Kasdan Pictures, the production company of Lawrence Kasdan, and was a producer on his film Dreamcatcher. She also worked as a writer/producer of DVD documentaries for several movies, including Cinderella Man, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters from Iwo Jima, as well as the re-releases of Backdraft, The Accidental Tourist, Wyatt Earp, Parenthood. She also wrote and produced a HBO First Look show on Cinderella Man and a promotional video for Silverado. She relocated from California to Oxford/Taylor, Miss. and has several projects in development, including two original feature animation films. Currently, she is in development on the film Theater of the Stars, which she adapted from the novel of the same name, and which she is producing as a French film in France and Morocco.
Shirley Mixon, joined Mississippi Public Broadcasting as Director of Content in May 2004 overseeing MPB’s radio department, news and public affairs and a staff of eight television producers. In January 2010, she assumed the role of programming director.
Mixon’s career began as a newsroom assistant in 1976 at WLBT-TV in Jackson. After ten years in Biloxi with WLOX-TV, she returned to WLBT-TV in 1992 as executive producer. She has produced a wide array of programming during her television career including newscasts, documentaries, public affairs programs and weekly magazine programs, and has won numerous awards including a George Foster Peabody Award, a national Associated Press award, and an Emmy. Mixon attended Mississippi University for Women, Mississippi State University and Hinds Community College, in addition to the Poynter Institute of Media Studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. She resides in Madison County with husband, Bill, and three long-haired Chihuahuas.
A lifelong southerner, Ted Speaker has had the good fortune of working on a wide variety of projects over the last ten years, including documentaries, short films, and narrative features. Presumably against their better judgment, filmmakers such as Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams), Jennifer Maas (Wheedle’s Groove, OFF 2010), Lynn Shelton (Humpday), and Dusty Bias (Prairie Love –OFF 2011 Narrative Feature Winner) have enlisted Ted’s help as a producer, editor, and composer. He has also actively volunteered as a consultant, panelist, and juror for film festivals throughout the Southeast, including OFF, Indie Memphis, Atlanta, Little Rock, and Sidewalk.
A graduate of Duke University, Tim Harms is producing partner to writer, director and playwright Neil LaBute, for whom he produced the upcoming feature film Some Velvet Morning, as well as the short films Sexting (OFF 2011) and BFF. He produced The Vicious Kind (OFF 2010), the feature film debut of writer/director Lee Toland Krieger, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and received Independent Spirit Award nominations for Best Lead Actor and Best Screenplay. Harms also codirected, edited, and appears in the short film The Last Payphone in Los Angeles (OFF2012).
Mississippi native David Sheffield began his writing career at the age of 18 when he won the Deep South Writers Conference award with his short story, “Out of the Cold.” In 1980, Sheffield joined the writing staff of Saturday Night Live where he and writing partner Barry W. Blaustein wrote several of Eddie Murphy’s most famous sketches, including Buckwheat, Gumby, Velvet Jones and James Brown’s Celebrity Hot Tub Party. In 1988, they wrote the screenplay for Coming to America, one of the most popular and successful film comedies of all time. Other film credits include Boomerang and The Nutty Professor I and II. In 2004, Sheffield won the Faux Faulkner contest with his parody, “As I Lay Kvetching.” More recently, Sheffield has returned to fiction. In 2010 his short story “Love In Vain” was anthologized in Delta Blues which included short stories by John Grisham, and Charlaine Harris.
Eric Snider is a freelance film critic and journalist whose work appears mostly on “the Internet” at such sites as Film.com, Twitch, Pajiba, Movies.com, and his own site, EricDSnider.com. He is also the cohost of the podcast Movie B.S. with Bayer and Snider. Eric has a B.A. in journalism and lives in beautiful Portland, Oregon.
Jack Barbera is a Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Mississippi, where he taught film courses for over 30 years. The syllabus for his Introduction to Film course was published in Film Studies (N.Y., 1987). His only attempt at filmmaking, the nine-minute The Janitor, was screened at the Silver Images Film Festival (Chicago, 1997). Barbera has lectured on film at several scholarly conferences and published in scholarly journals.
A veteran of the film festival circuit, Mark Bell was an associate producer of the Slamdance Film Festival and has also acted as a videographer/reporter for both Slamdance and the Seattle International Film Festival. In 2003, Bell became Senior Account Executive of Film Threat DVD before becoming Editor in Chief of FilmThreat.com from 2005-2009. In 2010, he became owner and publisher of Film Threat after purchasing the company from Chris Gore during the Sundance Film Festival. He has appeared as a film pundit on G4’s Attack of the Show, and has been a juror and panelist at numerous film festivals, including the 2011 Oxford Film Festival.
April Grayson makes films across genres, including documentary, experimental, and short-form narrative. A native Mississippian and former Oxonian, she is currently based in Seattle.
Nature Humphries grew up in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She served in the Navy before moving to Oxford in 2004, where she graduated cum laude from the University of Mississippi with a BA in English and Modern Languages in 2007. She has been Managing Editor of The Local Voice for six years.
Gerald Peary is a long-time film critic for the Boston Phoenix, a cinema studies professor at Suffolk University, Boston, and the programmer of the Boston University Cinematheque. He is the author of nine books on film, and the film editor for the University Press of Mississippi “Conversations with Filmmakers” series. His documentary, For the Love of Movies: the Story of American Film Criticism, played at the 2010 Oxford Film Festival.
John Beifuss is the movie reviewer and a reporter at The Commercial Appeal, the daily newspaper in Memphis, where he has worked since 1983. He has reviewed movies since 1996. His first published work appeared in the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, and he has written for The New York Times, TV Guide and the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, among other publications. He is the author of Armadillo Ray, a children’s book from Chronicle Books. His favorite movie is Bride of Frankenstein.
Alan Arrivée is a filmmaker, writer, and artist and is Assistant Professor of Cinema and Cinema Director at The University of Mississippi. His short film Silent Radio (OFF 2011) was awarded Best Foreign Film at The European Independent Film Festival 2007 in Paris.
His short play The Original I.Q. Tester was a finalist for the 2007 Heideman Award and was recently published in The Tusculum Review. His memoir The Appropriate Use of Hands appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of The Florida Review. Man at the Door, a film allegory of the complex issues surrounding illegal immigration, screened at last year’s Oxford Film Festival. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his wife and daughter.