Indie Memphis Film Festival
A still from Donna and Ally courtesy of the Indie Memphis Film Festival

When it comes to programming the Indie Memphis Film Festival, artistic director Miriam Bale and executive director Kimel Fryer follow a “no duds” philosophy.

“I go to a lot of festivals, and I don’t like seeing bad films at festivals. I don’t know about you, but I hate that feeling,” Bale tells MovieMaker.

“I want to have a festival where there are no duds, there’s just absolutely no duds. And that doesn’t mean that you’re going to love everything — some of these films are going to push you a little bit out of your comfort zone. They’re going to have interesting conversations, but they’re all really solid films that will stay with you. And that is true, I think, for every attendee.”

Indie Memphis Film Festival 2023 Highlights

The 2023 Indie Memphis Film Festival took place from October 24th – 29th in Memphis, Tennessee both in person and online. This year’s opening night film was Raven Jackson’s All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt, with other highlights including the world premieres of Connor Mahony’s comedy Donna and Ally and Augusta Palmer’s documentary The Blues Society about the Memphis Country Blues Festival. Alice Rohrwacher’s La Chimera starring Josh O’Connor was also shown, as well as Kristoffer Borgli’s Dream Scenario starring Nicolas Cage and Alex Braverman’s Andy Kaufman documentary Thank You Very Much.

A veteran film programmer and writer for publications like The New York Times and Sight and Sound, Bale has a well-trained radar for detecting good films.

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“That’s a challenge,” she says. “That means we’re looking at all kinds of different audiences and making sure there’s something for everyone.”

For Fryer, something else that makes Indie Memphis stand out from other festivals is that it offers opportunities for both national and local filmmakers. It’s something she’s experienced herself as a filmmaker.

Fryer is the producer behind Robert Mychal Patrick Butler’s 2021 feature Life Ain’t Like the Movies, which tells the coming of age story of a 16-year-old quirky Black teen. In the past, Fryer has attended the Indie Memphis Film Festival’s Black Creators Forum (BCF), a three-day symposium filled with speakers and workshops for Black artists led by notable Black filmmakers, scholars, industry professionals and critics.

“While I’m executive director, I actually was on the other side. I was a filmmaker, and I attended BCF and I attended Shoot and Splice, and all of the different things that we offer throughout the year and the festival. One thing that I love about Indie Memphis, we have our national competition, and our different categories that fall into that, but we also have our hometowner competition as well. And so, allowing a platform for both to exist,” Fryer says.

“That has really excited and really invigorated the filmmaking industry here, and really lets people know, ‘Hey, if you make a great film, if you make a film that’s got strong storytelling, there is a space for you to put that on display. We’re here for you.'”

Find out more about the festival here.

Main Image: A still from Donna and Ally courtesy of the Indie Memphis Film Festival