(CLARKSDALE, MS) – Hollywood comes to Clarksdale? Or maybe it’s Sundance? Nope. The world comes to Clarksdale — to celebrate movies, music and Mississippi, y’all.
The 10th Annual Clarksdale Film & Music Festival returns Friday-Sunday, January 24-26, to celebrate its first decade in the historic downtown — an arts and entertainment district in the midst of revitalization due, in large part, to nightly blues music and annual festivals like this one.
“This is the tenth edition of our film festival, and it promises to be our biggest and brightest yet,” said event co-founder Roger Stolle. “Even more exciting than this single event is all of the progress we’ve seen in the areas of blues tourism and downtown revitalization during our festival’s first ten years. We like to think that our film festival and April’s Juke Joint Festival had something to do with some of our progress here.”
According to Stolle, this year’s Clarksdale Film & Music Festival will showcase the small town’s big successes and deep history. In addition to blues/roots music, civil rights and Mississippi-connected films (many featuring Clarksdale content and characters), this year’s special weekend also includes multiple panel discussions and workshops with plenty of special guests. One panel will specifically cover Clarksdale’s downtown revitalization.
This year’s pop-up movie theaters are two popular downtown hangouts: Grandma’s Sports Bar and Hambone Gallery. The panel discussions and workshops will be held nearby at the Delta Blues Museum and other venues.
“We have definitely expanded our film festival offerings this year. We increased our ‘workshoppy’ stuff threefold and added a day of free music shows on Sunday,” Stolle explained. “We’re always looking for ways to positively impact more Clarksdale businesses as well as present world-class entertainment and educational activities for our visitors and locals alike. As always, plenty of the filmmakers will be on hand as well.”
In keeping with the festival’s “edu-tainment” philosophy, once again historian Robert Birdsong will conduct two History Bus Tours on Saturday (limited seating; first come, first served), showcasing Clarksdale’s deep musical, literary and civil rights history.
Even with all of the other events and activities, the heart of the Clarksdale Film & Music Festival is still its amazing array of films somehow connected to “here.” Sample highlights include:
– Memphis ’69 – Concert film of 1969 Memphis Country Blues Festival.
– Satan & Adam – The acclaimed tale of an unlikely blues team forged on the streets.
– Walk with Me – The story of Clarksdale transplant, bluesman Lucious Spiller.
– Miles Davis: Birth of Cool – The life and music of the blues-inflected jazzman.
– John Lee Hooker: The Boogie Man – BBC documentary (special FREE screening).
– Eliades Ochoa: From Cuba To The World – Doc includes Clarksdale’s Charlie Musselwhite.
– The Blues Trail Revisited – Blues fan filmed Mississippi in 1970 and returned 50 years later.
– Rosedale Freedom Project – Homegrown student films from just down Highway 1.
And many, many other features, shorts and music videos — subjects include blues, civil rights and more.
So, what does the Clarksdale Film & Music Festival cost attendees?
“We have some amazing sponsors and volunteers, so we keep things affordable,” said co-organizer Nan Hughes. “A ticket is just $5 per day on Friday and Saturday, and it gets you in to both pop-up theaters as well as a ride on the History Bus Tour. It also includes our 5pm daily receptions with ‘live’ blues music and hors d’oeuvres. Then, our fabulous workshops, panel discussions and official Sunday music is all free!”
Film workshops will be conducted by Coop Cooper (Clarksdale filmmaker) and Quinn Thomashow (Hampshire College). Blues and revitalization panel discussions will be moderated by Clay Motley (Florida Gulf Coast University).
Clarksdale Film & Music Festival: “Mississippi gets its close-up… to celebrate the Magnolia State’s films and filmmakers.” (Garden & Gun Magazine)