Independent filmmakers flock to Meridian for Rails to Reels festival

Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star

Participating in this weekend's Rails To Reels Film Festival in Meridian are James Carter, left, Trenton Steele and Thomas Burton. 


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Fans of independent movies will likely enjoy the annual Rails To Reels Film Festival, which kicks off Friday at the Temple Theater in Meridian. 

The two-day festival, which draws moviemakers from all over the state, will feature four blocks of more than 30 films, such as "Driven", "The Long Way Home", "One Word Story", "Being Here", "Crack in The Wall", "15 Down", "Chico Heron and The Last 42" and many others. 

The festival will also feature seven music videos.

Friday’s block will be from 7:20 to 11 p.m and Saturday will feature three blocks between 9 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.

Organizer Thomas Burton said the festival aims to give filmmakers a platform to showcase their art, noting that Meridian is full of gifted directors.

“I hope people realize that we have a lot of talented artists in Meridian," Burton said.

A new feature this year is a film block focusing on the community. The Carter Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on mentoring programs and community engagement activities, partnered with the festival for that block. In previous years, there was only one film focused on the community.

Burton said youth from the Carter Foundation will speak on the films impacted their lives.  

“All these films have a positive quality to them," Burton said.

Films that will be shown during that block include "Coach Smith at 1000 Wins" and a film about Rose Hill Cemetery. "Coach Smith at 1000 Wins" is about coach who inspires children to succeed in difficult circumstances, Burton said. 

"Chico Heron and The Last 42" features Jesse Palmer, an educator who was the first black president of the Meridian City Council. Parts of the movie were filmed in Meridian.

Local filmmaker Trenton Steele is looking forward to showing his movie "One Word Story," which is available on YouTube but hasn't been shown to a large audience. 

"It's nice to be able to present my work locally," Steele said.

The festival wraps up Saturday night with an awards ceremony, with three judges selecting the winners. Judges will choose winners in the documentary, narrative and music video categories. Tia Hall, a local actress, Matt Wymer, from the Oxford Film Festival and Mark Giese will serve as judges.

Tickets for the festival are $15 for individual blocks and $25 for both Friday and Saturday.

Tickets and passes can be purchased at The Daily Grind, Cater’s Market, the Meridian Tourism Office, Aie's Taste of Thai and Weidmann's Restaurant.The Temple Theater is located on the corner of 8th Street and 24th Avenue. Free parking is available in the parking garage across the street.

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