This year, multiple films by Rhodes students and alumni were featured at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, held Nov. 1-5.
Sarah Link ’19 and Emily Burkhead ’20 had their documentary, The Audubon Sessions Presents: Marco Pavé, shown at the festival Nov. 2. The film is about Rhodes’ Mike Curb Institute for Music hosting Memphis hip-hop artist, social activist, and creative director Marco Pavé as part of a student-produced concert series known as the Audubon Sessions.
The Audubon Sessions concerts take place at 1034 Audubon Drive, the first home Elvis bought in Memphis with the money he earned off the royalties of “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1956. Presley lived there for 13 months with his parents and grandmother before they moved to Graceland. Rhodes’ Mike Curb Institute for Music is now a steward of the house, and since 2013, students have used it for interviews, recording, and projects such as The Audubon Sessions. Guest artists are invited to the house to perform and discuss their careers and thoughts about music and life, especially in the context of the Memphis region. Artists have included Rosanne Cash, Charles Lloyd, George Coleman, Bobby Rush, Bill Frissel, Marcella and Her Lovers, and Mason Jar Fireflies.
While Link and Burkhead were going through archived footage from original concerts of the Audubon Sessions, they found a filmed episode featuring Pavé and combined it with their own documentary style. Their documentary features clips from the original taping of his Audubon Sessions concert, an interview with Pavé from the same time period, and an updated interview which covers his career since the original filming. “A lot of inspiration comes from the City of Memphis. It’s about police brutality, it’s about capitalism, and it’s about women not having a voice in the movement. It’s about a lot of different things. The art is going to tell the story,” says Pavé regarding his music.
“We get a good narrative about his inspirations behind his music, where he gets his influences from, and what he hopes to accomplish in the future. Along with a lot of reoccurring themes throughout his music such as social justice,” says Burkhead.
“All of us have a responsibility to move Memphis forward and to move our society forward, and he wants his music to be a motivation for people to do that,” adds Link.
Another Rhodes student, John Mark Stodola ’19, had a film featured in the festival’s Hometowner After Dark Shorts category. His film is a trailer called Bumble: The Movie. The project was originally created for a mid-term assignment in one of his Film and Media Studies classes at Rhodes. The trailer is a dark comedy that satirizes the sudden popularity of Bumble, an online dating app, by comparing it to a swarm of bees being released on campus.
“With a film and media studies minor, I wanted to take classes that were hands-on production classes where I had the opportunity to create videos,” Stodola says. “If you want to go into the film industry, the best way to learn is through hands-on experience, which is what Rhodes has afforded me.”
Recent alumna Klari Farzley ’18 was also selected to participate in the Indie Memphis Film Festival for College Girl. The film follows Jackie Laxson as she reflects on her experience being the first trans woman to join a sorority at Rhodes.