How Melanie Addington made the Oxford Film Festival one of Mississippi’s best events

About five years after I started to work for the Oxford Eagle, Melanie Addington was hired to be the city and education reporter.

I had met her a few times as she was involved in the Oxford Film Festival, which at the time, was run only by a group of volunteers, including Addington.

When she was hired, she told the editor that during the week before and during the festival, she might be a bit out of pocket as she’d be busy with the festival. In the early days of the festival, which is now in its 15th year, taking a few days off to handle last-minute preparations were a lot easier then than I imagine it is now.

Throughout her three or four years working at the EAGLE, she did a fine job for the paper, but as I got to know her better, it was easy to see it wasn’t where her heart lied.

The month leading up to the annual film festival, Melanie came alive. She juggled her duties at the paper, as a mother and as one of the organizers of the film festival. She was tired and stressed but with each sigh of exasperation, her love for the film festival was apparent.

Melanie worked throughout the year organizing the event, promoting it, visiting other festivals to learn what makes them work and watching hundreds of films submitted for the festival. I watched her from my cubicle in awe as to how one woman can take on so much and do it successfully.

The festival grew to where it became obvious a handful of volunteer organizers weren’t going to cut it anymore. A board was formed, grants were applied for, and in 2015, Melanie was hired to be the executive director of the Oxford Film Festival.

I would assume others applied for the position, but anyone who knew Melanie knew she was the right choice – the only choice.

She was finally where she belonged and it showed.

The festival has grown by leaps and bounds over the last three years, with more films, more ticket sales, more events and more stars making their way to Oxford for the festival.

The event brings hundreds of visitors to Oxford each year. Melanie has taken big chances in making sure the festival is diverse and a place where all filmmakers and movie-watchers feel comfortable and find films they not only enjoy, but can relate to.

I enjoyed working with Melanie and can now call her a friend, along with the rest of her family. She’s made her mark on Oxford for years to come.

The Oxford Film Festival starts this week with the official viewing of the Oxford Community Film at 7 p.m. at the Powerhouse and runs through Sunday, with films being played at Malco Theater Oxford, the Powerhouse, the Gertrude Ford Center of the Performing Arts and the Oxford Conference Center. Tickets can be purchased for individual shows or packages are also available.

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