The Starkville community offers a variety of outlets for independent artists to showcase their work. The Magnolia Independent Film Festival is one opportunity that gives independent film directors from around the globe a place to showcase their talents. Started by the late Ron Tibbett, the film festival, known as "The Mag," is a non-profit organization that has brought independent films to the Golden Triangle for the past 23 years.

From Feb. 27-29, The Mag plans to showcase a total of 38 films at the UEC Hollywood Premier Cinema 11. Almost all genres of film are represented, including comedy, horror, documentary and drama, with a mix of short and feature-length films.

Brandon McLaren, current festival director and programmer for select films, has been working with The Mag for three years now. When discussing this year’s film festival, he described a new addition to the event, which offers more to a younger audience.

"This year we are even offering a children’s block where all proceeds are going to the T.K. Martin Center. This is the first time that we have offered a family event, and the first time that we have had a fundraising event," McLaren said.

McLaren also mentioned the social environment the Mag provides as a reason for people to attend. 

"Another great part of the event is the social side. At the festival, you get to mingle with local and international filmmakers, media and other attendees. Through the festival, I have had the opportunities to meet and connect with people that have the same love of cinema that I have always had," McLaren said.

Grey Garris, a graduate student at Mississippi State University, was a judge at last year’s film festival. After viewing all of the films in the feature length and short categories, Garris worked with a panel of other judges to determine the award winners. 

"There's a lot to see. Film is a medium so multifaceted that you can see incredible styles of artistic expression even in one five-minute short film. It's a great opportunity to see the work of free-lance and independent filmmakers and directors and see just how different our mainstream media culture could be if these artists and idea bringers were given the budgets and resources that Hollywood-tier film is given," Garris said.

Ethan Cox, a junior majoring in biochemistry, attended the festival last year to see the selection of films The Mag curated.

"When I first found out about the Mag, I had no idea what to expect. It took place over three days, so I made my schedule for that week around it. Doing that turned out to be one of the most fun experiences I have had since coming to MSU. It is definitely run by a small staff, but that gives it a more welcoming feel," Cox said.

Cox continued, highlighting the unique feel of the Magnolia Independent Film Festival.

"It's like nothing I've ever attended before, and I plan on going back this year. Overall, the Mag is definitely worth attending for all three days if you can, but if you can only go for one day or part of a day, it's definitely worth the time," Cox said. "Go to the festival. No matter your major, age, past film experience, whatever you may be considering before going, the Mag is a great place to learn more about film. There's sure to be something for everyone."

For more information, go to magnoliafilmfest.com to view the Mag's full lineup and history. 

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