Movie Magic

Oxford is more than a town, much more.  It's a way of life, a place built with words that holds the heart, mind and spirit of those who call it home whether for four years or a lifetime.  Oxford is at the crossroads of Southern culture, class and cuisine.  The storied buildings around the picture perfect town square seem to hold the key to Southern culture, equally embracing learning and leisure.  In many ways Oxford is a dichotomy, simultaneously offering stimulation and serenity, creativity and calm.  Oxford is a state of mind, a gateway to some and a lifelong home to others.  It's a place where all four seasons take a firm hold, accentuated by football games, festivals and friendships.  

Oxford is full of stories that resonate with a tenor that can only be found in a town that reverberates Southern charisma and charm.  Enjoy the slices of life that follow as they are but snapshots of the town and university we so deeply love and admire.




Staff Writer

For years, Susan McPhail was the No. 1 fan of her husband, local actor Johnny McPhail. She supported his growing acting career and proudly displayed her “Johnny McPhail has a Posse” T-shirt.

Now, she has her own posse and her very own Hoka.

McPhail took home the Hat Trick Hoka award Saturday at the Oxford Film Festival for being in three movies showing at this year’s festival. The festival started on Thursday and concludedSunday.

“I’m going to cry,” she said after receiving the award.

McPhail started her acting career last summer when her husband was auditioning for a part in the independent film, “Big SignificantThings,” staring Harry Lloyd from the series, “Game of Thrones.”

“Johnny said something about me and they wanted to meet me,” she said. “I was outside in the van with our daughter. I walked in and started bickering with Johnny and could see them looking at me. They wanted a couple who owned a convenience store who could banter back and forth like an old married couple. Here I was doing that and not even realizing I was auditioning.”

The movie is scheduled to be in the South by Southwest Film Festival next month.

McPhail’s three movies — “Bellringer,” “Killer Kudzu” and “Last Call” — were all screened at the Oxford festival this weekend.

The festival had record ticket sales this year, organizer Melanie Addington said. Ticket revenues were about $2,000 more than last year, she said this morning. Final numbers are still being tallied.

“I think the numbers were up, especially on Sunday this year, because word got out about the films that were playing,” Addington said. “It also helped to have the boys here — Jason Ritter, Richard Speight Jr. and Rob Benedict — as there were quite a few excited fans here to see them. One fan drove from Nashville just to meet them.”

Ritter, Benedict and Speight were all in the film, “Sidekick,” which Benedict wrote and directed. Speight also served as a judge in the festival’s Mississippi Films category.

“I was here a couple years ago and liked it so much I told them they had to put me on a jury and make me a judge so I could come back,” Speight joked after the award sceremony heldSaturday at The Lyric Oxford.

Ritter, who is the son of the late comedic actor John Ritter, was awarded the Hoka Award for Achievement in Film for his roles in “Teddy Bears” and “Sidekick,” and his involvement and support of independent films.

“This festival is incredible,” he said. “Making an independent film is a small miracle. So this award is really for everybody here who has worked really hard to make what they made, to tell a story, or act in it. It takes so many people and it’s great to have a place like the Oxford Film Festival to come and share their work.” Ritter’s film, “Teddy Bears,” won the award for Best Narrative Feature.

Local musician Jimbo Mathis’ music video, “Poor Lost Souls,” won the Hoka for Best Music Video.

“I’m quite proud to get this Hoka,” he said in accepting the award.

The festival, in its 11th year, saw some changes this year. The films were shown at the new Malco movie theater, the Oxford Commons, and panels were held at the Oxford Conference Center. The awards ceremony on Saturday night was “beefed” up this year, thanks to a general donation from Blake Tartt III, who had a film, “Biggest Tailgate Party in Mississippi,” in this year’s festival. Tartt, a University of Mississippi graduate, has several businesses in Oxford.

“We love Oxford; I’m heavily invested in Oxford and we’re big supporters of the arts,” Tartt said. “Without the arts, you don’t have a community. Oxford is one the most special places in the world. And events like this festival, visitors come and walk away and talk to their network of friends and tell them how great this place was. I’ve traveled all over the world and Oxford has the nicest people in the world.”



Source: The Oxford Eagle