ON LOCATION: MEMPHIS is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization originally formed in 1999 as Memphis Film Forum by Michael C. Harwood. Our mission of promoting education, economic development, and cultural diversity through the cinema arts has been the backbone of our organization.
Our Board of Directors includes professionals from a variety of business, media, and creative professions, including active filmmakers and film/video professionals. The Advisory Board is made up of volunteers who provide additional expertise in the areas of film industry liaison, non-profit operations, fundraising and professional services relevant to our work. Our primary project is the annual International Film Festival.
The all volunteer driven board of directors strives to produce other events throughout the year such as the 2006 Director’s Series – a monthly retrospective of various directors’ works such as David Lynch and Spike Lee. Although invited but not able to attend, Mr. Lynch filmed a personal greeting that ran before each screening much to the delight of each audience. Other events have included the premiere of The Cider House Rules with Richard Gladstein, the premier of Cherry with Jon Glascoe and Joseph Pierson, Spike and Mike’s Festival of Animation and The Animation Festival with Don Hertzfeldt.
The International Film Festival is a four-day event presented in March or April of each year. From the beginning, the festival has featured a rich variety of regional, American, and international films. Filmmaker submissions have increased each year, and the quality and prominence of the films screened has risen dramatically over the festival’s 9-year history. In the juried festival competition, best-of-festival awards are presented in each film category. A panel chosen for their expertise in specific categories judges the competition.
PAST SPECIAL GUESTS
Attendees have included Richard Gladstein, Morgan Freeman, Holly Hunter, Isaac Hayes, Caldecott “Cotty” Chubb, Cybill Shepherd, Alan Bloomquist, Leo Fitzpatrick, Robert Mugge, Don Hertzfeldt, Jon Glascoe, Joseph Pierson, Del Shores, and Leslie Jordan. The festival has screened a number of Academy Award nominated films such as Don Hertzfeldt’s The Meaning of Life, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu’s Amores Perros, Most (The Bridge) by Bobby Garabedian and William Zabka, and Sam Green and Bill Siegel’s The Weather Underground.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Highlights from our past Festivals
PRAISE THE LORD – Our opening night film for 2005 was SCREEN DOOR JESUS shot on location in Austin, Texas. Written and directed by former Memphian Kirk Davis, who now lives in Hell’s Kitchen in NYC. Davis was in town for the screening and also brought along producers Sam Adelman and Dave Stuart for a question and answer session after the screening. Our festival party held at the Gibson Guitar Lounge featured BACK PORCH MARY, the band seen and heard throughout the film. SCREEN DOOR JESUS was also screened again on Sunday to the largest Sunday afternoon audience the festival has seen.
MIFF 5 was lovingly dedicated to the life and memory of founding board member, Greg Gadomski. Greg’s dedication to the festival inspired many of us to join the efforts of the Memphis Film Forum in its fledgling stages and carry it to the level that we have reached thus far. Greg’s spirit and grace continue to encourage us as we move towards Academy Award status!
Taking a departure from the norm, our opening night film in 2005 festival was the experimental film STRANDED IN CANTON by the legendary photographer William Eggleston, produced by Robert Gordon (Author -CAN’T BE SATISFIED: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MUDDY WATERS, IT CAME FROM MEMPHIS, Producer – COWBOY JACK’S HOME MOVIES, MARTIN SOCRCESE PRESENTS THE BLUES”.). The film depicted Southern Gothic like you’ve never seen. Shot in the 1970s in Memphis and New Orleans, this film put a unique spin on public and private live in the South. Many of those in the film’s sequences were in the audience, hysterically laughing their wild and crazy behavior from 30+ years ago! Special guest for this year included Producer Alan Blomquist (CHOCOLATE, CIDER HOUSE RULES, WHAT DREAMS MAY COME, BLUE COLLAR COMEDY TOUR) who participated in our panel discussion: IT’S A WRAP, NOW WHAT (FROM CONCEPT TO DELIVERY TO DISTRIBUTION).
In 2006, MIFF 7 created a new and successful partnership with Reel Soul Memphis which enabled MIFF to expand the typical film festival audience to include the African American population. One night of the festival was dedicated to Reel Soul films and the Reel Soul MIFF party. We paid homage to the people of New Orleans with our opening night film by noted music documentarian Robert Mugge – NEW ORLEANS: MUSIC IN EXILE, a stunning look at the effects of Hurricane Katrina on the music and musicians from the bayou and beyond. Special guests include NOLA musicians COWBOY MOUTH, Robert Mugge and poinently several displaced New Orleanians who have now made Memphis their home.
Being the home of the Blues and the birthplace of Rock ‘N Roll, we added a music component to the fest in 2007 with a music video category which featured the latest music video from Robert Cray directed by his wife, Sue Turner Cray. This theme was carried out even further with many music and music inspired docs such as JOOK JOINT JAM, IRON CITY BLUES, and ALTERED BY ELVIS. We awarded our first ever MEMPHIAN IN FILM HISTORY award to the soulful Issac Hayes. Screening his 1970s Blaxplotation film TRUCK TURNER was a delight both for the audience and for Hayes, his beautiful wife and lively little son!
Our green room for the festival (for VIPS, filmmakers and sponsors) was none other than the Gibson Guitar Tour Bus complete with Elvis in the driver’s seat (well, a cardboard cutout of him!) Rock on with our bad selves!