The 20th annual Indie Memphis Film Festival presented by Duncan-Williams, Inc., transforms the city into a connecting point for filmmakers, musicians, artists, and audiences November 1 - 6, 2017.
The festival brings a range of American independent features, documentaries and short films to Memphis from all corners of the country. In recent years, the festival has expanded to include gala screenings in seven venues across Memphis. The weekend portion of the festival continues at Overton Square in Midtown, the city's cultural and creative center, with all venues within just a few blocks of each other, creating an accessible community-friendly atmosphere rare on the festival circuit.
The 2016 festival attracted a record-setting attendance for nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos. Highlights included premieres of I AM NOT YOUR NEGRO, MANCHESTER BY THE SEA, LION, CERTAIN WOMEN and PATERSON.
Past festival attendees have included board member Craig Brewer (Hustle & Flow, Footloose), Whit Stillman (Love & Friendship), 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 (The Blind Side, Footloose), 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 live music in the theater before every screening. Our new music film categories and music video showcase will expand our emphasis on collaboration between artists of all kinds.
One of our recent 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 The Mighty Souls Brass Band, 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, and at various festival parties and receptions throughout the week. Prior years have also featured special performances by visiting artists including the Alloy Orchestra, who performed their 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, 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. Indie Memphis was ranked by MovieMaker as a film festival "Worth the Entry Fee" in 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016. With an emphasis on regional filmmaking, the festival brings a broad range of dynamic and engaging independent features, documentaries and short films to Memphis from all corners of the country.
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:
"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
"A Visit to Indie Memphis is a Beautiful Dream"
- MOVIEMAKER MAGAZINE travel log by director Lisanne Skyler (Brillo Box 3 cents off)
"Wow, this festival is on the up... used its community to create an engaging atmosphere and vibe that many much bigger festivals would benefit from having. This was a festival with a lot of soul."
- FILMMAKER MAGAZINE by Kaleem Aftab
"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)
"Indie Memphis knows how to treat their filmmakers right. With trips to Graceland, Stax, and Sun Studios (and this year a Halloween party in an old brothel) they incorporate the amazing history of Memphis into a festival experience like no other. The receptions, screenings, and dedicated volunteers really make you feel like you are part of a community. Can't wait to come back!”
~ RYAN SCAFURO (director, 'Bending Steel')
"Indie Memphis is a unique blend of quality, truly independent filmmaking, cultural identity and a Memphis-centric curated experience. It's the only festival I can see a barrage of amazing films and hang out with incredible filmmakers; but at the same time tour Elvis Presley's mansion (plus an unparalleled amount of Elvis paraphernalia at a crazy man's house in Holly Springs, Mississippi), party at an allegedly haunted former bordello, gorge myself on buckets and buckets of Gus' Fried Chicken, and catch a Huskies game courtesy of some really rad volunteers. Indie Memphis is more than just a film festival; it's a complete history of Memphis over a long weekend.”
~ ADAM DONAGHEY ('Bob Birdnow's Remarkable Tale of Human Survival and the Transcendence of Self')
"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
Awards & Prizes
Audience and jury awards are presented across ALL categories. All official jury and audience winners receive custom award sculptures designed and produced by Memphis artist Yvonne Bobo.
Cash Awards include:
$1,000 - Best Narrative Feature
$1,000 - Duncan, Williams, Inc Scriptwriting Awards
$1,000 - Best Documentary 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
Soul of Southern Film Award
Ron Tibbett Excellence in Filmmaking Award
The Indie Award
Rules & Terms
Final exhibition formats must be provided as one of the following: DCP, Blu Ray or a Digital File. The entrant guarantees that they have legal right to submit their film to the 2017 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 2017 festival, should it be accepted, and that the entrant understands that no screening fees or other reimbursement is provided. Submission of the film also confirms that Indie Memphis has permission to exhibit the work for an additional year for encore screenings if desired. 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.