by Alex Melnick
arts & life editor
The 15th annual Crossroads Film Festival—Mississippi’s largest cinema fest—is in town again from April 3 at 7pm to the 6th at 5;20pm , and Dr. Steve Smith has a film in it this year. It will be screened Saturday at 3:15. The arts & life team briefly chatted with Smith about his entry this year, called “Close,” and his experiences with the festival. Here’s what he had to
“My thing is to capture with the camera what’s visually exciting in the environment I live in, and make up new music that goes meaningfully with the imagery. A couple of years ago, I did a short city symphony film looking at Jackson, ’The Jackson Rag;’ then a swamp symphony in my favorite area to visit by kayak, ‘Pearl River Suite;’ and for this year’s festival, a film shot entirely inside my house called ‘Close.’ This may sound radical or really lame, but the process this time started with noticing the skin texture of my inner arm as I was sitting in my family room, and from there, led to various discoveries of how the outside world visually invades my indoor space.
“ The Crossroads festival always offers lots of marvelous finds—some that will become well-known later like last year’s entry “Mud” (and) some you’ll never have another chance to see. It’s also an accessible venue for Mississippi filmmakers, a good way for student filmmakers to start putting work before the public, even short and technically simple works like mine. My favorite Crossroads films tend to be music documentaries that reveal a whole new world (American bluegrass, Irish music, last year SOUND CITY about the legendary recording studio near L.A.) My favorite memory is that once a short film of mine screened in the same block as a wonderful documentary on small-time stock-car racing in upstate New York that I’d seen at another festival and was already a big fan of, and I got to stand up at the front afterward and field questions alongside that director.”
All films are screening at the Malco Grandview Theatre in Madison. You can purchase tickets to films individually, or passes to the entire festival—student passes are $15 dollars a day, or $8 dollars for a single movie. The film festival is run by the non-profit organization the Crossroads Film Society, and the festival itself offers experiences that go beyond the typical festival experience. Many of the film’s directors attend the event and hold Q&As after screening. A free screenwriting workshop is on April 5. In addition, the Mississippi Museum of Art will host youth-oriented events throughout the day April 5. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit the festival’s website.