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Street Talk

‘85% Broken’ Premiers At Oxford Festival

By Mickey Howley

            It was my first time. Never had it happened before. It was not because I am shy or hesitant, hardly that, but the opportunity had never come up before.  But there I was, bigger than you’d imagine, with hundreds of people watching, up on the silver screen. The Oxford Film Festival last weekend had the Mississippi premier of “85% Broken” a film about music and people and accordions and Water Valley. Thankfully in this 15-minute film, my part was 9 seconds long. And I did not speak, sparing the audience the Yat dialect.  But the screen time was long enough for me to realize, “Wow, I’m very bald and should eat more salads”.

            Fortunately for the audience, when I appeared on the screen, the story line was in full swing and I was not crucial to the plot and they did not seem to care about my big screen debut. Whew.

            Who did come off as movie idols were Jack Gurner Sr. and Snooky Williams. And even without makeup they looked good. Okay…. they looked old as well, but still good. The film’s star is Water Valley resident Reiko Yamada. Now how a Japanese born but Canadian and US educated music composer (Reiko has a PhD, so it is Dr. Yamada) came to be a star in Water Valley’s creative scene is a story in itself. To that I have to say, well, you’ll just have to watch the film. Lots of folks saw the film, it screened twice over the weekend to a full theatre both times.  And everyone I talked to loved it, despite my nine seconds.

            If you missed the screening in Oxford we’re working on a showing in the Valley. And we’re hoping to show several other Valley creative short films with it.

            This film…and it is part of a greater film series about creative places in Mississippi…puts folks in front of the camera who might not normally be there. But the folks behind the camera have been looking through the lens for a long time. Alison Fast and Chandler Griffin are the principal photographers, producers, and editors for Blue Magnolia Films. This film series is part of a greater the Mississippi series named A Pathway to Revitalization.     

Alison and Chandler have been here quite a bit and filmed other stories yet to be released. They like the feeling here and think what is going on in the Valley is special and merits the attention. Just how this figures in the greater picture, let me remind you there are 82 counties with 291 municipalities in this state and all of them, you might think, would like such a positive story. So there is a bit of luck involved, and Water Valley is lucky to have this attention, but I’ve always been told the best way to be lucky is to earn it. And I think the town has collectively done that.


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