I wasn’t sure what to expect as I packed my bags to head to Oxford, Mississippi. All I knew about Oxford was that it’s known for its university (Ole Miss) and for being Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner’s adopted hometown. But neither was why I was coming to this quaint college town. I’d been invited to be a part of the jury of the Oxford Film Festival. A regional festival, it boasted no big stars on its red carpet, or flashy promotional “activations” for gaudy upcoming releases. But I embraced this as an adventure, and a chance to discover something special. Out of all the features and shorts I saw, here are my favorites.
Joseph Sulsenti’s animated short follows a shipwrecked man who crosses paths with a mermaid drag queen (voiced by Amanda Lepore). She cinches her waist with a lobster shell, using its claws as precisely placed pasties. Her fins tromp on his battered raft like platform heels on RuPaul’s runway. And when he begs for her help, she offers him a fierce ensemble that includes big hair, a jellyfish bra, and seashell heels. The fishy visuals will have you gagging. Then the final scene will have your heart swimming with joy.
Bitches Love Brunch
Brunch is no longer a white girl’s game. Writer/director Sasha Leigh Henry’s comedy short features four Black girlfriends talking life and love over a less-than-ideal brunch date. Dropping hard truths, f-bombs, and bawdy comedy, this short had me howling.
Cop Chronicles: Loose Cannons: The Legend of the Haj-Mirage
If you like Hot Fuzz or MacGruber, you’ll love director Mark Potts’s buddy-cop parody that gleefully mocks the genre’s hokiest and most infuriating tropes. Naturally, there’s a trigger-happy cop who doesn’t play by the rules, a hollering police chief, and a former partner broken from a grisly personal loss. But things get really wild when it comes to robot clones, mystical books, and an outrageous bear attack. Filled with silliness and improv, it’s a bit rough around the edges but nonetheless hilarious. (Full review coming soon.)