The Magnolia Independent Film Festival premiered in 1997 under the direction of Ron Tibbett. Tibbett was a filmmaker born in Chicago, Illinois who had recently moved to Mississippi. After completing his second film, Tibbett began looking for a local film festival to submit it to. Upon finding no Mississippi Film Festivals, he set out to start his own. The Magnolia Independent Film Festival became the first film festival in Mississippi.
Tibbett died in a car accident in 2004. Today, the festival continues as his legacy. Tibbett’s hope was to support filmmakers and nurture the art of film. The festival now brings films and filmmakers from around the globe to the Golden Triangle Area. The festival also encourages Mississippi student filmmakers to enter, in hopes of being able to help preserve the art of filmmaking in our area.
Poet, journalist, filmmaker, Ron Tibbett was most well known for founding Mississippi's first film festival, the Magnolia. His first film, the rarely seen "Toni, Randi, and Marie" won best cinematography at the Toronto Film Festival in 1977.
Tibbett wouldn't direct another film until the early '90s when he and his wife, Dr. Charlotte Magnussen moved to West Point, Mississippi. The film was "Swept Off My Feet" and while looking for festivals to submit it to, Tibbett found that there were none in Mississppi. He started his own and since the Mag premiered in 1997, three more film festivals have started in Mississppi.
One film submission to the Mag impressed Tibbett so much that he and the director, Bill Brown set off to make a film together. That film was "Buffalo Common." Directed by Brown and produced by Tibbett, "Buffalo Common" is a subconscious road trip through the forgotten missile silos of North Dakota. The film was an official selection of the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and made the Village Voice's Top Ten Avant Garde list. Tibbett has been responsible for starting the career's of Mississippi's youngest and most promising filmmakers.
He commissioned Alex B.D. Barton to make a film for the first Mag in 1997. This film was a stop-motion gore fest entitled "Planet X." Since then, Barton has won several awards for his animated films ranging from political cartoons to special effects in music videos. Tibbett met noise musician and filmmaker Shane Ballard on the set of "Cookie Jar," directed by another pupil of his, J. Alec Hawkins. Ballard's unique life style and interest in pop culture obscurities inspired Tibbett to direct his final film, "Citizen Shane." The documentary follows Ballard on a hilarious and touching campaign for sheriff of Lowndes County. The film has slowly become an underground success and most people think the film must be fictional due to Ballard's larger than life persona (not to mention his house was practically a museum of 20th century madness).
Sadly, Ron Tibbett lost his life in a car accident not far from home. He left a legacy that went beyond just his films, but the entire film community. A tribute was held in his honor on March 7th, 2005 in New York City.
(Author: Michael Kimberly, courtesy of imdb.com)