Rails to Reels Film Fest returns to the Temple this weekend

Bill Graham / The Meridian Star

Rails to Reels will begin Friday, Oct. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Temple Theatre. The two-day festival draws movie makers from California to Georgia and will feature four blocks of screenings.

No need to travel to Cannes, Sundance, or even Oxford, Mississippi to preview new and independently produced movies. The Rails to Reels Film Festival is coming to the Queen City Friday and Saturday, Oct. 22-23.

With 32 films, documentaries, and videos on the slate, festival organizer Thomas Burton says this is the perfect event for our community to come together with creative movie-making geniuses from all over.

Rails to Reels will begin Friday, Oct. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the historic Temple Theatre. The two-day festival draws movie makers from California to Georgia and will feature four blocks of screenings.

Burton says Friday’s lineup features a block of family friendly films.

“One of the sponsors of this night is the Carter Foundation, represented by its founder, James Carter,” he said. “The Carter Foundation is a non-profit organization that focuses on mentoring programs and community engagement activities. To that end, Carter will bring young people to speak about their passion for film during this block of time.”

Carter says this will make six years that his foundation has been involved in the festival.

“We love being involved with this event, whether it’s volunteering to set up or helping with the meet and greet,” he said. “We want our youth to expand their creative scope. Two of our students who volunteered in 2016 will submit their own films at the 2022 festival, and this will be my first year to participate as a judge..it’s vital for our community to continue to support the event, and especially to show our hospitality to our visitors.”

Friday will feature movies such as “TRIumph Project,” a documentary by Jeff Fairbanks and Hunter Heath.

The film tells the story of a man who embarks on a three-week string of 21 triathlons, all at the half-ironman distance of 70.3 miles in 14 states.” “Fairbanks will be in Meridian on Friday night,” Burton said. “So we are very excited about that.”

The Saturday block begins at 9:30 a.m. and continues until 12:30 p.m. with features such as “Niblets,” “Jane,” “Dirty Santa, and Social Prisoners.” The 2 p.m. lineup showcases seven pieces. “Every Breath You Take” by Hunter Heath includes a video by local singer/songwriter Emily White.

Meridian resident Danny Todd’s feature, “Modern Day Disciples,” will also be shown in the second session, as well as Karl Fernandez’s “I’ll Meet You There.”

The third block concludes the festival and runs from 7 - 10:30 p.m. Laurel disc jockey, writer, and director Joey Traywick will be on hand to present his “Time.” While it’s the second film he has written, “Time” is the first film Traywick has written and directed.

“This was filmed in Clarke County,” he said. “It tells the story of a young African American man who is framed for his boss’ murder. He invents a time machine to prove his innocence. I label this one a sci-fi drama. It includes actors I have worked with among the fifty movies and seven television shows I have been a part of. These people hail from Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, and New Orleans. I am so excited to be a part of this screening.”

Saturday’s lineup closes with Tonya T. Cannon’s thriller, “Sorry, Wrong Text.” Living in California, Cannon wrote, produced, acted, and filmed this short. Cannon promises a great plot twist to her piece which has already picked up awards for Best Thriller Short and Best Actress at the Couch Film Festival of Toronto.

“This is the story of a woman who decides to give up on traditional dating, but her coworker encourages her to go to online dating,” Cannon said. “She does, indeed, meet someone, but it doesn’t go the way she thinks. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but let’s just say, the surprise will be fun and entertaining.”

Local judges will score the films to determine who will receive the Rails to Reels awards which were designed and crafted by Chad Smith. Entries will be judged on originality/creativity, direction, writing/story structure, cinematography, pacing, sound/music, editing, performances, and overall enjoyment. Awards will be presented at the end of Saturday night’s films.

Tickets may be purchased at railstoreels.com. A two-day pass is $25 for one person and $35 for two people. The pass includes access to all screenings. Detailed schedules can be found on the Rails to Reels Film Festival Facebook page.

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