Crossroads Film Festival begins today and Fondren plays a starring role. The neighborhood will host three events at three different venues at the beginning and end of the fest.

An Ardenland presented music video showcase is open to the public tonight at 7pm at Duling Hall. Tomorrow’s welcome reception for pass holders features DJ Young Venom and will be held at circa. at 4:30pm. Sunday’s 10am brunch for pass holders is at Brent’s.

Vice President of the Crossroads Film Society Kevin Slark says he’s excited about his home neighborhood playing host. “With Ardenland helping out, along with Brent’s, Duling Hall and circa., we are expanding,” Slark explains. “We have more films than ever before, too, at 146, coming all the way from Spain and Israel.”

According to organizers, Crossroads is more than just films. Filmmaking workshops, sessions on marketing and networking receptions bring filmmakers and aspiring ones to the same table to interact. After-parties and post screening Q and A’s help fans learn the stories from the filmmakers themselves.

One such filmmaker is Robbie Fisher, who also lives in Fondren. An attorney by trade, Fisher has honed a passion for filmmaking over her career and brings a documentary, Delta 180, to this year’s festival. The film takes a look at an after school program in Greenville, Mississippi for at-risk and poverty level children. The 180 Degrees Program, based out of Salem, Oregon with chapters nationwide, gives homework help, snacks and mentoring to children. Fisher says the program is truly turning lives around in the Delta.

Crossroads is great for the independent and and low budget film, Fisher feels. “There are not a lot of other venues or outlets to see these kinds of productions,” she explains. “To sit with an audience and see your film on a big screen is wonderful.” And she says, the networking opportunities are great. Fisher is currently in production on another film, Head Rush, and two other as-yet untitled documentaries.

Slark, who wears multiple hats as part of the festival and film society, says he is fascinated by the process. “It all culminates with a screening full of people, he says. “To think, 7 or 8 months ago I saw those films on a 36” TV. (In the theater), it looks and sounds like it should and the audience is captivated by a film and filmmaker who is there to enlighten them on the experience.”

Without a shadow of a doubt, Slark says, many people, including the Mississippi Film Office, are working together to build a booming film culture in the state. He leaves us with this invitation: “I encourage you, if you’ve never seen an independent film, to come see a block of films. It’s something that, you know when you sit there as you view and take it in, that the people that worked on it, poured their heart and soul in to it, and that it is a genuine expression of creativity.”

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