Movie News & Reviews

Indie filmmakers on the Coast are showing off their work at 2 Mississippi festivals

Trailer from Southern States Indie FanFilmFest at the Palace Casino

Clips from eight of the films being featured at the Southern States Indie FanFilmFest at the Palace Casino in Biloxi. Several of the films have Coast connections.
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Clips from eight of the films being featured at the Southern States Indie FanFilmFest at the Palace Casino in Biloxi. Several of the films have Coast connections.

Mississippi Coast filmmakers have been nominated for awards at a independent film festival in Biloxi, and some will be screened at an upcoming festival in Oxford.

Whether you’re into music videos, documentaries, comedy, horror or animation, the Southern States Indie FanFilmFest offers all that and more this week.

The three-day festival opened Wednesday at the Palace Casino in Biloxi. The Oxford Film Festival is set for Feb. 6-10.

The FanFilmFest, in its second year, is hosted by Waveland resident Mike Rechtien, and his film production partner, Susan Forsythe Craig of Wauconda, Illinois.

Rechtien is a screenwriter, director of photography and sound editor. He directed the award-winning short film, “Trailhead.”

While the emphasis is on films in and about the Southern states, the festival also has accepted projects from 30 different countries. Filmmakers attending last year’s fest came from countries such as Scotland and Australia, Rechtien said.

Coast filmmakers

Don Smith recorded the music video for the Grammy-nominated “Moss Point Mississippi” with help from the city, and it’s showing at both festivals. The film is nominated for awards in Biloxi.

Smith recorded the song in Nashville with producer Doc Holiday and Doug Kershaw on fiddle. His video shows the reasons he loves Moss Point, such as hanging moss, the river jamboree, and water flowing through the river city.

“After the video was finished, I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and began aggressive treatments that left me with a lot of complications,” Smith said.

He hopes to be able to travel to Oxford for the festival. “That will be a huge victory for me and a fitting bookend to the most critical year in my life.”

Summer Baldwin, a teacher and dancer from the Mississippi Coast, choreographed and danced in the film “Aloneliness.” The Ocean Springs woman dances in the film, which also is competing for awards in Biloxi and Oxford.

The film is about a dancer who feels “overstimulated in social interactions, which causes her to seek relief in peaceful solitude; only to find that too much solitude leads her to feelings of crushing loneliness,” Baldwin said.

Summer Baldwin, an Ocean Springs MS teacher, dancer and choreographer, has been nominated for an award for her dance role in a short independent film.

“Aloneliness” was produced after Baldwin met Billy Louviere and Racheal Searcey through local yoga classes, she said. Searcey is a writer, editor, director and producer of short films and videos. She directed the film and Louviere wrote the score.

Baldwin has won awards for her roles in the films “The Dead Man’s Number” and “Cornbread Cosa Nostra,” which is based on true stories of the Dixie Mafia.

A documentary filmed in Biloxi, “Confederate Pride, White Supremacy, and My State Flag,” and directed by Adam Grannick, is showing in Oxford. His film poses this question: “When your state flag contains an emblem that’s been used as a symbol of hate, how do you engage with those who consider it part of their heritage?”

The film features Rapper Genesis Be, starting with her response to Confederate Flag month in Mississippi — when she draped herself with a Confederate flag and hung a noose over her head at a New York City night club. In the film, she returns to her home state to talk to locals, including a childhood friend, a white man who’s a descendant of Confederate soldiers.

Other films

Projects at the Biloxi festival include serious films, controversial issues, silent films, quirky films, drone films and smartphone films.

There’s also the off-beat, such as “Liquid Soul.” The film is about a man who goes off the deep end after a breakup with his girlfriend. He starts huffing gas fumes, becomes psychotic, and decides to take out his ex-girlfriend, her parents and their dog.

The 12 minute, 39-second film “is creepy good,” wrote in a review last fall after the film won awards in Houston and Austin, Texas. The film’s directors, Allen Phillips and Trampas Smith, are from DeKalb, Texas.

“Not surprisingly, there’s an explosive near-ending to the story and then a turn for the better, albeit lonely, quirky, and still creepy,” the magazine says.

“Liquid Gold” was nominated for six awards in Biloxi.

A number of categories offer awards: There’s a diversity prize, Best of Fest, and awards for cinematography, best actor, actress, LGBT and English and foreign language categories.

Winners of the Indie FilmFanFest and other independent film festivals often go on to win national awards.

The festival has offered the public three days to view screenings of the films for $10 per day (11 hours per day on Wednesday and Thursday), ending at 4 p.m. Friday.

For more details on the Biloxi festival, visit

For details on the Oxford festival, visit

Robin Fitzgerald covers real-time news, such as crime, public safety and trending stories. In nearly 40 years as a journalist, her highest honors include investigative awards for covering the aftermath of the fatal beating of a Harrison County jail inmate in 2006 and related civil rights violations. She is a Troy University graduate.