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Indie Memphis gets kudos from MovieMaker; Brewer heads festival board

For the second consecutive year, the Indie Memphis Film Festival has been named to MovieMaker magazine’s 2014 list of “Top 50 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee.” This comes on the heels of the magazine naming Memphis as one of the Ten Best Places to Live and Work as a Moviemaker -- repeating an honor bestowed four times previously thanks in large part to the effectiveness of the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission.

The full list of the Top 50 Film Festivals will appear in its spring issue on newsstands April 22.  The magazine will reveal the list in installments on moviemaker.com during the next few weeks.

Indie Memphis has also been included as one on the magazine’s “25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee” in 2011 and one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” in 2009.

The 17th annual festival runs from Oct. 30 through Nov. 2, 2014.

Meanwhile, Memphis screenwriter and film director Craig Brewer, whose movie “Hustle & Flow” attracted world-wide acclaim and won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 2005, has been elected president of the board of Indie Memphis, the non-profit organization that helped launch his career. Brewer’s term as president is for two years. This is his third year on the board.

Other newly elected officers of the board are Kerry Hayes, vice-president; Erin Freeman, secretary; and Les Edwards, treasurer. Iddo Patt remains on the board as immediate past president. The board also includes Mark Furr, Adam Hohenberg, Dorothy Kirsch, Gary Lendermon, Kevin Mireles, Jason Wexler, Pat Mitchell Worley. Two new board members are Ward Archer and Alison England.

Craig Brewer photo by Jamie Harmon

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Sat. and Sun.: MJCC Int'l Jewish Film Festival

The MJCC International Jewish Film Festival continues today and tomorrow with two extraordinary films at the Memphis Jewish Community Center, 6560 Poplar Ave.

“Simon and the Oaks” plays Saturday, April 5 at 9 p.m. (Tickets: $10/$7 Members). Doors open at 8:30 p.m. Not rated, however, it does have does have language, sexual content, mature themes and adult situations.

An epic drama spanning the years 1939 to 1952, “Simon and the Oaks” is the gripping story of Simon, who grows up in a working-class family in Sweden. Intellectually gifted, he finally convinces his father to send him to an upper-class grammar school. There, he meets Isak, the son of a wealthy Jewish bookseller who has fled Nazi persecution in Germany. Simon is dazzled by the books, art, and music he encounters at Isak’s father’s home. Isak, on the other hand, draws comfort from learning to do something with his hands, helping Simon’s dad make boats. When Isak faces trouble at home, he is taken in by Simon’s family and the two households slowly merge, connecting in unexpected ways as war rages all over Europe. 

“Hava Nagila (The Movie)” screens Sunday, April 6 at 1 p.m. (Tickets: $10/$7 Members). Not rated.

It's to music what the bagel is to food – a Jewish staple that has transcended its origins and become a worldwide hit. Bob Dylan sang it. Elvis, too. Follow this party song on its journey from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the cul-de?sacs of America in a film that’s both hilarious and deep. Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Glen Campbell, Leonard Nimoy, Regina Spektor, and more, Hava Nagila takes viewers from Ukraine and Israel to the Catskills, Greenwich Village, Hollywood, and even Bollywood, using the song as a springboard to explore Jewish history and identity and to spotlight the cross-cultural connections that can only be achieved through music.

For more info: 901.761.0810 and jccmemphis.org

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'Tennessee Queer' at Malco Studio on the Square

The made-in-Memphis film Tennessee Queer is in its second week at Studio on the Square. Twice daily--1:10 and 7:20. Don't miss this film that was a Film Commission-assisted project. 

Get tickets here. 

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Commission, SCORE develop equity crowdfunding

So many scripts … so little money. However, thanks to President Obama’s Jobs Bill, on-line investing in films will be possible in early 2015 through equity crowdfunding. Unlike donation crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, equity crowdfunding will give investors the chance to receive a return on their investments. According to criteria currently being considered, The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) would allow up to $1 million in investments over 12 months in each company.

Since August 2013, retired financial executives from the Memphis chapter of SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) (SCORE.org) have been working in alliance with leaders of The Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission. Their goal?  To develop an educational/mentoring program to prepare local filmmakers for this new way to raise capital for their films. A leading securities and corporate finance attorney is keeping the group apprised of all new developments in equity crowd funding regulations -- Matt Heiter of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz.

SCORE’S Crowdfunding Co-Directors, Reese Austin (formerly Managing Director Institutional Equity with Morgan Keegan) and Ramkrishna Kasargod (formerly Managing Director Equity Research with Morgan Keegan), will lead an in-depth financial workshop in early 2015, specifically designed to prepare the filmmaker for the equity crowdfunding portal experience.  SCORE board member Jack Gibson will discuss film business plans. Award-winning Film Commission client and internationally acclaimed producer Mike Ryan (“June Bug,” “40 Shades of Blue”) will discuss film budgeting in the second part of the workshop. For a nominal fee, the workshop will be open to all legal residents of Shelby County.

Successful graduates of the workshop with “camera ready” scripts will then be eligible to apply for a competitive mentoring program. In it, SCORE financial executives, Mike Ryan, and several Film Commission established clients would select three filmmakers for special pre-portal nurturing.

Although SEC regulations regarding equity crowdfunding will likely not be finalized until early 2015, an informational workshop to prepare Shelby County filmmakers for the final workshop will be held in May. Location and date will be announced in April.

For more information on this new type of film investing, go to:

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/promise-perils-equity-crowdfunding/

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Martha Ellen Maxwell 1928-2014

An editorial in Tuesday’s editions of The Commercial Appeal lauded the life of Martha Ellen Maxwell who died last Thursday of ovarian cancer.

Among many other achievements, she was the first executive director of the Memphis & Shelby County Film, Tape and Music Commission, precursor to the Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission.

Visitation is 5-7 p.m. Thursday night, March 13, at Memorial Park. There is a memorial service Friday at 11 a.m. with reception afterwards at Idlewild Presbyterian Church.

Mrs. Maxwell also served as the first executive director of Memphis in May, as well as Arts in the Park. And she was executive director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.

She was in the core group that helped save the Orpheum and the Levitt Shell, and she helped nonprofits such as the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.

The editorial said: “Because of Mrs. Maxwell’s tireless advocacy, and her fundraising and managerial skills, Memphis is indeed a better place for the visual and performing arts communities.”

Photo by Lance Murphey

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