PLAN NOW: 11TH ANNUAL CLARKSDALE FILM FESTIVAL

in historic Clarksdale, Mississippi

Friday - Sunday January 29-31, 2021

POP-UP THEATRES AT

MULTIPLE DOWNTOWN VENUES!

Our nonprofit event specializes in Mississippi-connected and blues/roots-music movies — PLUS live blues music performances, history bus tours, workshops, special guests and more. 2021 will feature both in-person and virtual activities. Stay tuned!

Plus, hit the juke joints and clubs... MUSIC CALENDAR at:
cathead.biz/music-calendar.

Need a place to stay? LODGING (from budget to luxury) at:
visitclarksdale.com/stay-all
http://www.clarksdale.com/lodging.php

Questions? Please email roger@cathead.biz.

2021 festival schedule "coming soon."

2020 schedule below to give y'all the flavor or our annual fest...

January 24, 2020

Rare encore screening revisits Konkel and Stolle's 2008 "M for Mississippi: A Road-trip through the Birthplace of the Blues." Filmed on-location at blues clubs, juke joints, homes and houseparties, the acclaimed blues documentary was filmed in a consecutive 7-day road-trip in the week that crossed March into April in 2008; it premiered during King Biscuit weekend in October of that year. In the dozen years that followed, most of the film's subjects have passed away even as the blues scene within Clarksdale and the Mississippi Delta has grown. Q&A with Roger Stolle
12:15 PM
70 minutes
Clarksdale premiere of new film by local director! A tale about two rival hunting clubs and one man caught in between. Features many Clarksdalians in acting roles as well as plenty of original music. "Alcibiades" is a bit like a sequel to the film Goss made a few years ago called "Hunting".
Theatrical premiere. "Of Concrete and Skin: The Story of the Elaine Massacre Memorial" tells the story of the design and construction of the Elaine Massacre Memorial, from ground-breaking to dedication, as well as the history of the massacre and the monument's historical significance. Director Nolan Dean attending the screening. Q&A with Nolan Dean.
Theatrical premiere, courtesy PBS NewsHour! In Mississippi’s Clarksdale, the heart of the rural Delta, a celebration of the blues has been drawing thousands of fans to the area for the past 16 years. The Juke Joint Festival, named for bars and informal music venues scattered throughout the African American South in part as a response to whites-only clubs, has helped revitalize a city whose economy was struggling. PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown reports.
2:00 PM
70 minutes
French filmmaker Nicolas Drolc wanted to make a film about contemporary American roots, folk and gospel music but couldn't afford to leave his home base known as "the bungalow" in North Eastern France. So, instead, he invited his favorite musicians to visit him, play in a local dive bar and subject themselves to improvised questioning and field recordings the next morning at Drolc's dwellings. The result is a loose, yet intimate discourse on a variety of issues ranging from the creative process to day to day life in this rather confused era we refer to as the 21st century. Features Alabama troubadour Andy Dale Petty, former GORIES & Detroit legend Danny Kroha, the one-eyed soul-saver Reverend Deadeye, California folk prophet Willy Tea Taylor, folksinger and teacher Possessed by Paul James, and the grand seigneur of basement-gospel known as the Dad Horse Experience.
2:10 PM
15 minutes
The Desoto Arts Institute presents "Truth Lies Upstream," a new film short starring Mississippi's Johnny McPhail ("True Detective," "The Highwaymen"). A legendary lawman spends his last days trying to get the evidence he needed decades ago. An official Top Ten selection in the 2019 Memphis Film Prize. The Desoto Arts Institute in Southaven, Mississippi, is a non-profit made up of filmmakers, musicians, and artists that teach kids and teenagers about the film-making process in an accessible and hands-on environment. Their goal is to create an environment that cultivates the best in technical skills, artistic vision and professionalism with the goal of training and career development in filmmaking and STEM for the citizens of DeSoto County.
2:30 PM
8 minutes
This new short film is an expression of a thought and desire by Mississippi filmmaker Philip Scarborough along with 42 fellow Mississippians (not actors), who have crafted a letter to 42 of the more than 150 Confederate memorials found on courthouse lawns and public parks across their state. Scarborough explains why it’s time for the 'Johnny Reb' sentinels to stand down, while also noting the lack of memorials to the state's enslaved and indigenous peoples. The filmmaker will attend the screening.
2:40 PM
6 minutes
New film short. "In 1967, three Ph.D. students head into the Mississippi Delta to teach English at a historically black college. The Klan was watching. Inspired by an actual event."
In this new Mississippi, documentary short, Greenville Renaissance Scholars interview local elders to better understand the local history of blues and civil rights. The mission of the scholars program is to inspire, motivate and prepare middle school students to succeed on a college track.
Myrlie Evers gives a powerful speech to commemorate the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and declares that the museums are "...linked in love, in hope and in justice." The museum allows Mississippi to remember its past and look to its future. Ms Evers, the wife of slain civil rights leader Charles Evers, is joined by Frank Wilson, Jr who was a young boy growing up around the corner from the Ever's in segregated Jackson, Mississippi. Ms Hilda Casin, who was a young school teacher in racially charged McComb, Mississippi at the same time, offers her ever positive views of the future that she has promoted for decades including through the Black History Gallery that she opened and continues to run in McComb. The Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History adjoin each other in Jackson.
In 1994, Marc Brodsky (who will attend the screening) organized a concert and filming with Greenville bluesman Roosevelt "Booba" Barnes, owner of the infamous Playboy Club on Nelson Street. The performance and interview footage sat for 25 years until Brodsky decided to finally edit the project in late 2019. Now, for the first time, it can be enjoyed by the public as a lost blues legend rides again. Q&A with Marc Brodsky.
This new locally-produced documentary short celebrates the 40th anniversary of Mississippi's first music museum, started as a one-room exhibit by Sid Graves in 1979 and now run by director Shelley Ritter and housed in the enlarged, former freight train depot in historic downtown Clarksdale. The museum is home to the world-famous Arts & Education Program as well as the remnants of Muddy Waters' childhood home.
Special screening of Quinn Thomashow (Hamphire College in MA) roughcut short film — an experimental collage (images/music) capturing her visits to Clarksdale, Mississippi. Shot on 16mm film and developed by hand.
Starring Bukka White, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Furry Lewis, Johnny Winter and more! Footage by Gene Rosenthal. "A year after Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated, a group of blues legends came together to celebrate the 150 year anniversary of Memphis, TN. This concert documentary, shot over 3 days in June of 1969, celebrates an American art form that unites us all." Clarksdale premiere.
4:00 PM
77 minutes
Rare public screening! Fat Possum Records (Oxford, MS) presents an acclaimed personal journey into the lives of some of the region's last old-school bluesmen — self-made men who kept their music alive in the juke joints and house parties of Mississippi. Featuring R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, T-Model Ford and others. Directed by Mandy Stein.
5:00 PM
5pm LOBBY RECEPTION w/refreshments plus blues by Sean "Bad" Apple w/guest Lucious Spiller
5pm LOBBY RECEPTION w/refreshments plus blues by Sean "Bad" Apple w/special guest Lucious Spiller (Included in your Friday $5 Clarksdale Film & Music Festival ticket.)
This world premiere is Clarksdale Film & Music Festival's Friday evening feature! Director Lee Quinby Nolan Dean follow itinerant musician Lucious Spiller on a week of blues and gospel adventures in historic Clarksdale, Mississippi — Spiller's adopted hometown. Music and interviews filmed on-location. (Quinby first captured Spiller in the documentary "True Delta.") Intro/Q&A with Lee Quinby.

January 25, 2020

11:00 AM
120 minutes
Mississippi premiere of the new GRAMMY-nominated music film! Legendary jazz artist Miles Davis was a singular force of nature; the very embodiment of cool. Driven by Davis’s own words, "Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool" relies on home movies, interviews with collaborators like Quincy Jones and Herbie Hancock, and close listening to Miles's music to paint a portrait of the man and his times. Davis is revealed as a man of brooding intensity and exceptional devotion to his craft—and one who struggled to escape addictions, violence, and segregation. His unique impact on American music reverberates today.
Clarksdale premiere of thoughtful new student documentary film shorts by the Rosedale Freedom Project Filmmaking Club. Filmmaker special guests: Arthur Evans, Elijah Hunter and Lydia DuBois.
11:00 AM
FREE "Clarksdale's Downtown Revitalization" panel discussion"
11am - "Clarksdale's Downtown Revitalization" panel discussion - Professor Clay Motley (FGCU) moderates; panelists include Jon Levingston (Chamber of Commerce), Bubba O'Keefe (Visit Clarksdale Tourism), Red Paden (Red's Lounge) and Ann Williams (Collective Seed & Supply/Travelers Hotel).
11:40 AM
20 minutes
A project of Clarksdale's Carnegie Public Library, "In Our Words" explores the compelling life experiences of past tenants from the Mississippi Delta's King & Anderson Plantation. World premiere of this new work by David Rodwin, JoAnn Blue and team.
12:00 PM
History Bus Tour of Clarksdale w/Robert Birdsong
Please meet 15 MINUTES BEFORE TOUR under the overhang next door to Hambone Gallery (111 E. 2nd St., downtown). Historian/storyteller Robert Birdsong is your tour guide as the Clarksdale Film & Music Festival's History Bus Tour drives you by important film/music/civil rights/literary sites around town. Included in your $5 festival ticket (limited seating; first come, first served). TWO SATURDAY TOURS: 12 noon and 1:30pm.
12:10 PM
13 minutes
New music videos: "The Depths" by Alice Hasen, "Price of the Blues" by Tullie Brae and "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by Taylor Made Blues Band! Directed by Clarksdale, Mississippi's Coop Cooper.
12:25 PM
9 minutes
New music videos: "All Night Long" by Bentonia, Mississippi, blues legend Jimmy "Duck" Holmes... plus "What I Feel" by Nashville bluesman Stacy Mitchhart. Directed by Tim Hardiman.
Blue Magnolia Films is a documentary film company, founded in 2013 by Alison Fast and Chandler Griffin to celebrate "bright spots" and small town solutions across the state of Mississippi. Through storytelling, we create more resilient, connected communities. According to Griffin, "We retrieve the wisdom of the past for living in the present, and we make visible the people and projects that are powering a new culture of the south."
1:00 PM
FREE "The Bluesmen Speak" panel discussion"
1pm - "The Bluesmen Speak" panel discussion - Professor Clay Motley (FGCU) moderates; panelists include Adam Gussow, Anthony "Big A" Sherrod, Lucious Spiller and Shine Turner.
1:00 PM
27 minutes
Documentary film about a group of dedicated teachers and students spread hope in the Mississippi Delta by cultivating the arts and a sense of community in an after-school program called Griot Arts. Inspired by the Griots of West Africa, they impart love and respect for the music and culture of Clarksdale, while nurturing a sense of responsibility for carrying on tradition and forging ways of strengthening civic bonds. Special FREE screening.
Q&A after the film! The movie: He became known the world over in the late 90s as an original member of legendary Cuban band Buena Vista Social Club, but Eliades Ochoa's passion for his country's musical heritage led him to pursue a life dedicated to music much earlier than that: He began by playing his guitar in the streets of Eastern Cuba, then joined a slew of folk groups, until finally the success of "Buena Vista Social Club" came along. Spreading his love for traditional Cuban folk music was always Ochoa's main goal, and that love shines through in this new documentary, that narrates his story pulling together rare pictures, archive material and new interviews, preserving not only his incredible journey, but the richness of the musical heritage of his country for generations to come.
1:30 PM
History Bus Tour of Clarksdale w/Robert Birdsong
Please meet 15 MINUTES BEFORE TOUR under the overhang next door to Hambone Gallery (111 E. 2nd St., downtown). Historian/storyteller Robert Birdsong is your tour guide as the Clarksdale Film & Music Festival's History Bus Tour drives you by important film/music/civil rights/literary sites around town. Included in your $5 festival ticket (limited seating; first come, first served). TWO SATURDAY TOURS: 12 noon and 1:30pm.
1:45 PM
8 minutes
New documentary short film. Griot Arts students learn about Mississippi's gift to the world: Blues music. Griot is a fabulous nonprofit that works to empower young people in Clarksdale, Mississippi, to create positive change in their lives and community by providing access to opportunities in the arts, education, and workforce development. Special FREE screening.
Every October the King Biscuit Blues Festival in Helena, AR, features an amazing array of Mississippi, Arkansas and beyond real-deal blues performers on its Front Porch Stage. We are proud to showcase the stage's newest available concert film at the Clarkdsale Film & Music Festival each year. This (the 2018) edition includes Pat Thomas, Iretta & Johny B., Earl "The Pearl" Banks, Johnny Rawls, Bobby Rush, Robert Finley and more!
2:00 PM
FREE "Camera-less Filmmaking" workshop w/Quinn Thomashow
Quinn Thomashow (Hampshire College in MA) conducts a handmade or "camera-less film" workshop where attendees paint/draw/stamp/write on bleached 16mm film to create artistic film shorts that will be screened. This workshop is great for all ages, and shows you a new perspective on what filmmaking can be. FREE and open to the public. No festival ticket is required, though we hope y'all will buy one anyway.
3:00 PM
37 minutes
Mississippi has always been known for its rich literary and musical heritage even though it also has the highest illiteracy rate of any state. It's been the home of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, and Muddy Waters. Today, a new generation of artists is emerging from this place that some say embodies the best of American culture, despite poverty and social ills. Through the artists profiled in this film, Barry Hannah (writer), David Kimbrough Jr. (blues musician), Lewis Nordan (writer), Donna Tartt (writer) and Morgan Freeman (actor), we see how the spirit of place inspires their creativity.
3:00 PM
FREE "Filming for Social Media" workshop
"Filming for Social Media": Local filmmaker Coop Cooper shows you the way to get the most professional results using your phone (and a few other accessories) to film yourself, friends and events for social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, TikTok and others (for ages 10 and up!).
World premiere! For the past three years, Florida Gulf Coast University's Dr. Motley Clay (Honors College) has conscripted Clarksdale, Mississippi's Roger Stolle (Cat Head) to bring an exciting (and occasionally eccentric) collection of Mississippi bluesmen to the Sunshine State for a series of concerts and panel discussions. The is the story of one of the Clarksdale to the Caribbean adventures. Q&A with Clay Motley.
Clarksdale premiere of this award-winning blues documentary! Sterling Magee experienced the music industry’s exploitation of black musicians firsthand. So he walked away to play on the Harlem streets for “his people.” Reborn as Mr. Satan, he spread his gospel and became a NY City legend. When a white, Jewish musician named Adam Gussow asked to play with him, their lives took a powerful turn. Adam cast aside an ivory tower life, and Sterling's embrace of his apprentice forged a sound that thrust him back in the spotlight due to a chance encounter with rock icons U2. But life on the road took its toll, and Sterling vanished. The separation would test both men’s courage, and their journey to find each other again a tale of tragedy, survival and miraculous rebirth. Featuring U2’s The Edge, Rev. Al Sharpton, Harry Shearer and Peter Noel. Q&A with Adam Gussow.
3:45 PM
45 minutes
World premiere of a brand-new documentary film following an English musician retracing the path of jazz and blues back to their sources of the Mississippi Delta and New Orleans — focusing on Clarksdale (including an interview with Visit Clarksdale tourism director Bubba O’Keefe outside Ground Zero Blues Club), Tutwiler, and the Dockery Plantation as the real source of the blues, and New Orleans as the source of jazz. Robin Phillips and Domininkas Zalys intro/Q&A the film. English professional jazz musician, recording producer, and swing bandleader Robin Phillips retraces the path of jazz and blues in America back to their sources to better understand the art form he has dedicated his life to and see how the music exists in these places today; in a once-in-a-lifetime road trip on a Harley Davidson from Chicago to New Orleans, via St Louis, Nashville, Memphis, Clarksdale, Tutwiler, and Jackson. In the documentary Robin shares his passion and knowledge of the history of the music and the pivotal historic locations he visits, whilst also sitting-in on gigs with local musicians and interviewing people along the way. He also visits important recording studios that played a role in putting American music down on record and sharing with the world, such as Sun Studio and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
A new documentary from Third Street Cigar Records and director Glenn Burris... The story of a great unsung American bluesman: Marshall "Big Jack" Reynolds. Jack was a magnificent blues player with a mysterious past, a dynamic temperament, a soft heart, and a mean harmonica. He never found national success in his lifetime. But his deep blues and tough songs made him a legend to roots music connoisseurs and an example to many up-and-coming musicians in the Detroit and Toledo areas. Hear Jack’s story from those he touched most deeply, and who kept him going. And hear the man himself sing, blow, and tell his tales.
5:00 PM
5pm LOBBY RECEPTION w/refreshments plus blues by Sean "Bad" Apple w/special guest RL Boyce
5pm LOBBY RECEPTION w/refreshments plus blues by Sean "Bad" Apple w/special guest RL Boyce. (Included in your Saturday $5 Clarksdale Film & Music Festival ticket.)
Special Clarksdale preview of an amazing documentary in the making! In the spring of 1970, 20-year-old Museum of Fine Arts film students Ted Reed and his friend Tim Treadway drove through the south to find and record some of the last living blues legends. Their goal was to discover the very roots of American popular music, and the sources of the rock music they had grown up with—music that had made the trip from the US to England in the 1950s and then back to the US in the 1960s through groups like the Rolling Stones, Led Zepplin, and Cream. 50 years later, Reed, by now a multiple award winning documentary filmmaker, discovered his old film while in the process of moving his office. He realized he was sitting on a treasure trove; archival footage of a bygone time that no one else had ever used. His curiosity moved him to drive the identical route he had taken years before and see firsthand what had changed in the birthplace of the blues. Today, tourism is second only to agriculture in annual revenue in Tennessee and Mississippi. Who was behind the revival of the study of blues history? How did this newfound embrace by regional and state government administrations come about? Who were the tourists flooding—and in some cases resettling in—the birthplace of the blues? And who were the new musicians rapidly finding a fan base in the pilgrims coming to hear and discover this quintiscentially American music? These are the questions Ted returned to Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana with in 2018 and 2019. He talked with authors Peter Guralnick, Roger Stolle and Dick Waterman, historians and hospitality entrepreneurs, musicians and art dealers, state officials, museum managers, and travelers from Arkansas to Australia. Also on this return trip, Ted reconnected with Tim for the first time in all those years and together reflected on all that had passed in nearly a half-century. The resulting film is a personal memoir that encompasses the evolution of American music, the upheavals of the civil rights movement, the power of memory, and a reflection on the treasures of personal experience, both lost and found. Intro/Q&A with Ted Reed.

January 26, 2020

Where: Various

OTHER "RELATED" SUNDAY MUSIC at Clarksdale's REGULAR SUNDAY music venues: 10am - BLUESBERRY CAFE - Blues Breakfast w/Robert Kimbrough Sr. (no cover). 3:30pm - LEVON'S - Ray Cashman, FREE. 5pm - HOOKER GROCER - Live music TBA, FREE. 7pm - RED'S - Mark "Mule Man" Massey (cover charge). Details at venues.
11:00 AM
"Live" blues by Preston Rumbaugh - FREE, courtesy of Clarksdale Film & Music Festival
Guitarist/bassist/vocalist Preston Rumbaugh hails originally from old Nashville, where he played alongside music legends like Scotty Moore and Ronnie Hawkins. Later, he backed recording artist John Paul Keith in Memphis, before finally settling in Clarksdale, Mississippi, to play the blues he loves. He's backed a who's who of Delta bluesmen including Robert "Bilbo" Walker, Big George Brock, Terry "Big T" Williams, Lucious Spiller and Anthony "Big A" Sherrod at area blues festivals and venues like Red's Lounge, Ground Zero Blues Club, Hambone, and New Roxy.
12:30 PM
"Live" blues by Sean "Bad" Apple - FREE, courtesy of Clarksdale Film & Music Festival
Bluesman Sean "Bad" Apple has lived a bit of everywhere — from Pennsylvania to Tennessee to Mississippi. Currently, he is in the process of moving back to Clarksdale to open the Bad Apple Blues Club, play the blues and run guitar workshops. He's recorded several solo and band albums through the years. And he's backed such notable blues icons as Robert "Bilbo" Walker, R.L. Boyce, Mary Ann "Action" Jackson, Earl "The Pearl" Banks and many others — from Mississippi juke joints to Beale Street sidewalks!
2:00 PM
"Live" blues by Bill Abel - FREE, courtesy of Clarksdale Film & Music Festival
Blues musician Bill Abel hails from Belzoni, Mississippi — hometown of Pinetop Perkins and Abel's first blues mentor, Paul "Wine" Jones. Abel has recorded several solo albums and recorded with such blues legends as Big George Brock, Hubert Sumlin, Cadillac John Nolden, Monroe Jones, Jimmy "Duck" Holmes and others. He's also shared stage and screen with too many bluesmen to mention — including a beautiful segment with Cadillac John in the "M for Mississippi" film being revisited at this year's film festival. He mixes Delta and Hill Country blues styles in his own unique manner.
3:00 PM
"Live" blues by Preston Rumbaugh - FREE, courtesy of Clarksdale Film & Music Festival
Guitarist/bassist/vocalist Preston Rumbaugh hails originally from old Nashville, where he played alongside music legends like Scotty Moore and Ronnie Hawkins. Later, he backed recording artist John Paul Keith in Memphis, before finally settling in Clarksdale, Mississippi, to play the blues he loves. He's backed a who's who of Delta bluesmen including Robert "Bilbo" Walker, Big George Brock, Terry "Big T" Williams, Lucious Spiller and Anthony "Big A" Sherrod at area blues festivals and venues like Red's Lounge, Ground Zero Blues Club, Hambone, and New Roxy.
4:00 PM
"Live" blues by Lucious Spiller - FREE, courtesy of Clarksdale Film & Music Festival
The eclectic bluesman Lucious Spiller was born in St. Louis, raised in Little Rock and rooted in Grenada, Mississippi. But he is a bluesin' rock star in his adopted home of Clarksdale. Through his travels as a bass player, guitarist and vocalist, he's stared the stage with everyone from Calvin Levy to T-Model Ford. Spiller's mix of blues, soul and beyond can be heard (often) several nights a week in the clubs, jukes and restaurants of Clarksdale — sometimes solo, sometimes as band leader. He has been featured in several documentaries and is the star of "Walk with Me," premiering at this year's film festival.