*INDIE MEMPHIS FILM FESTIVAL WILL PROCEED - COVID-19 NOTICE*
We will proceed with the event whether it is held in our usual venues, online in a virtual format, or a combination of both.
The 26th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc and Duncan Williams Asset Management will return October 24 - 29, 2023. Keeping with tradition, the festival will transform the city into a connecting point for filmmakers, musicians, artists, and audiences. This year’s festival will honor the many local, national, and international filmmakers, who have made the Indie Memphis Film Festival so special over the years, while focusing on our exciting future.
***Official Satellite Screen Partner for the 2022 Sundance Film Festival***
***FilmCraft recipient from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences for the Black Creators Forum***
***MovieMaker Magazine’s 2020 Top 50 Festivals Worth the Entry Fee***
***MovieMaker Magazine's 2019 25 Coolest Film Festivals***
The festival brings a range of independent features, documentaries, and short films to Memphis from all corners of the world. Before 2020, the festival featured a block party in Midtown, the city's cultural and creative center, with all five screening venues a few steps away, creating an accessible community-friendly atmosphere unique on the festival circuit. Weeknight screenings are featured in a variety of venues and areas of the city.
In 2021, the festival returned to in-person screenings along with online screenings and talks throughout the festival. Midtown was once again the main hub of the festival with screenings at four venues: Playhouse on the Square, Circuit Playhouse, Crosstown Theater, and the Malco Summer Drive-In, with live music before each screening. Every day of the hybrid festival featured public and private events online and in-person: panels, parties, mixers, industry meetings, an awards ceremony, and the Black Creators Forum.
Returning for the sixth year is the Black Creators Forum, a two-day symposium of workshops and invited speakers led by notable black filmmakers and critics with a wide interdisciplinary range. Previous speakers have included Barry Jenkins, Shaka King, Maya Cade, Ashley Clark, Numa Perrier, and Gina Duncan. The aim is to ease the barrier of entry for black artists to work in film, and to foster a strong network of collaborators. In 2019 and 2020, BCF was supported by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The festival celebrates new independent films as well as important independent film history. Indie Memphis has screened mini-retrospectives of the work of Abel Ferrara, Hong Sang-soo, Sara Driver, and Sean Price Williams. Other recent highlights included Jim Jarmusch in person for a 30th Anniversary screening of the Memphis-shot MYSTERY TRAIN.
The festival has a special interest in music documentaries, comedies, and “in-between films” (films that mix experimental with narrative or documentary and/or are medium length).
Festival attendees have included Jim Jarmusch (Mystery Train, The Dead Don’t Die), Boots Riley (Sorry to Bother You), Chris Elliot, Lakeith Stanfield, Amy Seimetz (Sun Don’t Shine, The Girlfriend Experience series), Rainn Wilson, Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Footloose), Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship), Abel Ferarra (Ms. 45), Richard Brody (The New Yorker), Chris Parnell (Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock), former New York Times film critic Elvis Mitchell (KCRW's The Treatment), Peter Gilbert (Hoop Dreams), Scott Mosier (Clerks, Chasing Amy), Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood, The People vs Larry Flynt), Matt Lopez (Race to Witch Mountain, The Sorcerer's Apprentice), Ira Sachs (Little Men), John Sayles (Matewan), Gary Clark, Jr. (Honeydripper), Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Do The Right Thing), Ray McKinnon (Rectify), Barry Corbin (No Country For Old Men, Northern Exposure), Angela Bassett (What's Love Got To Do With It), Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy), Albert Maysles (Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter), Bob Mondello (National Public Radio), and Ted Hope, Head of Production at Amazon Studios.
Indie Memphis also connects filmmakers and festival attendees to the live music scene that pulses through the city. We are one of the only festivals in the world to feature music in the theater before every screening. Our music film categories and music video showcase our emphasis on collaboration between artists of all kinds.
One of our featured guests was musical icon Syl Johnson (Syl Johnson: Any Way The Wind Blows) who performed with the Bo-Keys at Minglewood Hall. Memphis musicians including various artists from Unapologetic, The Mighty Souls Brass Band, Jody Stepehens, Van Duren, Amy LaVere, The Maitre D's, Motel Mirrors, Caleb Sweazy, Luke White, Brennan Villines, Alex da Ponte, Chris Milam, Jason Freeman, Rev. John Wilkins, Jeff Hulett & Leah Keys, Tori Whodat, DJ Nyce, Graham Winchester, Paul Taylor, James Godwin, JD Reager, Singa B, Kip Uhlhorn, and more performed in theaters prior to screenings, our annual festival Block Party and at various festival parties and receptions throughout the week.
Prior years have also featured special performances, including the premiere of an original live score to Haxan by Alex Greene and the Rolling Heads Orchestra, the Alloy Orchestra’s acclaimed live accompaniments to silent film classics The General and Man With A Movie Camera, and British singer/songwriter Robyn Hitchcock, who closed the 2009 festival with an intimate solo concert at Malco Theatres' Studio on the Square.
Thrice named "one of the coolest film festivals around" by MovieMaker magazine and seven times as a "Festival Worth the Entry Fee", the Indie Memphis Film Festival is a two-time Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences grant recipient and was named a "Top 20 Event" by the Southeast Tourism Society in 2012.
Audience and jury awards are presented across all categories, with winners receiving award sculptures designed and produced by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo. Jury awards include Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short and the Duncan-Williams Scriptwriting Award. Additionally, the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission presents the Hometowner award each year.
Word on the street:
“An embarrassment of riches… warm and friendly, yet also exciting and intense. Kind of like Memphis itself.”
- ROGEREBERT.COM by Sheila O'Malley
“One of the most well-curated [festivals] each year”
- THE FILM STAGE by Jordan Raup
"Infused with the city’s warmth and buoyed by the local music acts (they play before each screening), ranks as one of the more satisfying regional film festivals around. Where else do you overhear folks debating BBQ and fried chicken houses while in line for the latest films by Kelly Reichardt and Raoul Peck?"
- BROOKLYN MAGAZINE by Paul Dallas
“Indie Memphis has grown into one of the best and most inclusive festivals in the southern United States with great programing for narrative, documentary, and outside the box films they classify as ‘departures.’ (I appreciate they did not use the word experimental.)”
~ JOHN RASH (filmmaker)
“Beyond a shadow of a doubt one of the most vital regional film festivals in the country, setting the bar for all others from programming to community engagement. So honored to be in the mix with these programmers and filmmakers.”
~ PISIE HOCHHEIM (filmmaker)
“Indie Memphis did not feel like an inclusion rider festival, but rather a well-curated collection from a trusted tastemaker, and yet the pickings were as diverse as they come.”
~ FILMMAKER MAGAZINE by Kristen Yoonsoo Kim
"Indie Memphis is a fantastic, well-curated festival blessed with hometown strengths -- the city's special cultural and political history as well as its great food -- that other fests can only dream about."
~ SCOTT MACAULAY (editor-in-chief Filmmaker Magazine)
"A truly great stop for any filmmaker on their festival tour, with great audiences both local and global, who really invest in the ethos of the entire weekend. Indie Memphis is a festival with an eclectic program that challenges, inspires and always leaves you wanting more. Long may it continue. Films, music, food and craft beer. Is this heaven? No, it's Indie Memphis."
~ JUSTIN DOHERTY (co-founder Filmstock International Film Festival)
“As film festivals and arthouse exhibitors have historically alienated people of color, working class people, and people outside of the film industry, Indie Memphis continues to evolve both internally and externally to welcome more of the Memphis community.”
~ AARON E. HUNT (MUBI Notebook)
"Indie Memphis has so much that I look for in a film festival: programming with a thoughtful and idiosyncratic point of view that reflects its leadership, and reaches out to promising new filmmakers whose work has an unmistakable sense of place; an excited and eager community that attends the films in force looking to be surprised by the fare, rather than congratulated for coming out; and, oh yeah, barbecue."
~ ELVIS MITCHELL (host of KCRW's 'The Treatment')
"I've had screenings of my films all around the world. I've watched my films premiere at the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, as well as the Prince's Palace in Marrakech. But there has never been an experience to equal my premiere at Indie Memphis."
~ CRAIG BREWER ('Hustle & Flow') on premiering his debut feature, 'The Poor & Hungry,' at Indie Memphis in 2000
Across categories, select films will be in competition for juried awards. Many of these jury awards are eligible for the following cash prizes. All official jury and audience winners receive custom award sculptures designed and produced by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo.
NOTE: Not all films selected to be screened at the festival will be in the juried competition films. If you have more specific questions for our programmers in regards to competition vs other categories, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cash Awards include:
$1,000 - Best Narrative Feature
$1,000 - Duncan, Williams, Inc Scriptwriting Awards
$1,000 - Best Documentary Feature
$500 - Best Sounds Feature
$500 - Best Departures Feature
$500 - Best Narrative Short
$500 - Best Documentary Short
$1,000 - Best Hometowner Feature
$500 - Best Hometowner Narrative Short
$500 - Best Hometowner Documentary Short
Special Festival Awards:
Craig Brewer Emerging Filmmaker Award
Ron Tibbett Soul of Southern Film Award
The Indie Award
Best After Dark Film
Final exhibition formats will vary per venue. However, it is most likely that a DCP will be required so make sure that you have one ready to deliver at least 3 weeks before the screening date. Flat, 24fps specs are preferred.
The entrant guarantees that they have legal right to submit their film to the 2023 Indie Memphis Festival and have obtained all necessary rights and clearances to have it publicly screened during the festival dates. Submission of the film confirms that the Indie Memphis Film Festival has permission to exhibit the work at the 2023 festival, should it be accepted.
Submission of the film also confirms that Indie Memphis has permission to exhibit the work for an additional year for encore screenings, if desired, in our year-round programming events. Every precaution will be exercised in handling preview and exhibition materials for submitted films, but the entrant agrees to hold the festival, its organizers, employees, volunteers, sponsors, and partnering organizations harmless for damage to or loss of materials submitted.