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Oxford Film Festival announces weekly virtual film festival series

The 2020 edition of the Oxford Film Festival is going virtual, for now.

The festival announced this week plans for a weekly virtual film festival series showcasing films that were programmed for the 17th annual event. This year’s film festival was scheduled for March 18 through 22, but was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Beginning the week of April 24 through May 1, the virtual festival will roll out a different series of films each week, with themed presentations. This event will run throughout the summer and fall as an alternative to the physical film festival.

Festival programmers, filmmakers and special guests will moderate Q&A sessions following the screenings, as would normally take place at the theatre during each year’s festival.

“The Oxford Film Festival has become a vital showcase for independent film and filmmakers for close to two decades now,” OFF executive director Melanie Addington said. “So, rather than reducing the number of the films that routinely receive the benefits of having that platform, we decided to create these weekly presentations in lieu of a one-week only virtual film festival. We’re excited by the idea that we can give each film that much more of a focus.”

The festival will also share a revenue split from the ticket sales for the virtual screening with the filmmakers themselves.

The first week of films will be highlighted by the McPhail block, which is a group of films featuring and celebrating Oxford’s Johnny and Susan McPhail. The films included in the block are: “All That You Love Will Be Carried Away,” by Thad Lee, which is based on a Stephen King short story, this year’s community film “The Golden Years,” by Brian Whisenant, “The Rougarou,” by Lorraine Caffery and “Truth Lies Upstream,” by Robb Rokk.

The McPhails and the directors of the films will participate in a Q&A session following the block, which will be moderated by Addington on April 24.

On April 25, “A Dim Valley,” by Brandon Colvin, will screen as part of OFF’s LGBTQ narrative feature selections. It will be available for only one day exclusive to audiences in the United States. The film follows a curmudgeonly biologist and his slacker graduate assistants as they work through a summer research project deep in the Appalachian woods. However, while immersed in the project, they meet a trio of mystical backpackers who change each of their lives in mysterious ways.

Following the screening, Whisenant will moderate a Q&A session with Colvin and other members of the film’s cast and crew.

Mississippi documentaries will also screen during the first week of the virtual festival, taking place on April 25 with a Q&A session with the filmmakers.

“It is important for festival organizers to adapt in this pandemic to do what is best for their filmmakers as they are our partners and the only reason our industry exists,” Addington said. “Coming up with a way to help our filmmakers during an uncertain time financially by sharing the proceeds from those screenings will add another key benefit that is critical at this moment. As we introduce this idea to help our filmmakers, we actively request that our industry also look to do what is best for the filmmakers as well.”

Tickets for each presentation are $10 and include a 24-hour rental period and exclusive access to the filmmaker Q&A session. Various viewing packages are available for the virtual film festival series extending from now through the end of the year. The festival is also working with sponsors and previous ticket purchase holders to extend their benefits to the virtual film festival.

Visit oxfordfilmfestival.com for more information and to purchase tickets.