Loving director Jeff Nichols plans new indie film festival

Duarte Garrido, Entertainment Reporter

The director of the Oscar-nominated movie Loving has announced plans to launch his own independent film festival.

Jeff Nichols wants his home town of Little Rock, Arkansas, to have its very own showcase for movies, mirroring the ones built by actor Robert Redford and director Richard Linklater.

Redford launched what is today the biggest independent film festival in the world in the town of Park City, Utah, in 1978.

Sundance has acted for decades as a launch pad for small filmmakers, and Richard Linklater's Austin Film Society has since followed suit.

Nichols, whose small budget movies have gradually been entering a more commercial circuit, now wants to help "real people make real movies".

"Little Rock and Arkansas don't have anything like that," he told Indiewire magazine.

"One of my biggest hurdles as a kid in Arkansas was I just didn't have any connection points with the global film industry."

"I want to create a cinema society that gets people together to watch movies and filmmakers they may not know about, to not only bring films but filmmakers to Arkansas, to have conversations people can see in front of them in a way that's immediate and tangible."

The filmmaker entered the Oscar race for the first time this year with Loving, a movie about racial segregation in the American south.

The film starred Joel Edgerton and Irish-born actress Ruth Negga, who was nominated in the best actress category.

Negga eventually lost to La La Land's Emma Stone, but the fact that a small independent director with an unconventional approach to storytelling appealed to the Academy caught Nichols off guard.

"As an audience member, I want to be challenged and I want to experience stories in a different way. Some people are up for that, some aren't. That's why some people just don't like my movies very much," he told The Guardian.

After his first three movies - two starring Michael Shannon and one with Matthew McConaughey - received critical praise without studio backing, Nichols finally decided to let in Warner Bros.

In 2016's Midnight Special, the director said he was "happy to be partly working with a studio" and felt it did not compromise his approach to film.

Now, the Arkansas filmmaker is writing his first full studio movie called Alien Nation, which he'll present to Fox in May.

"They want to make a movie of substance that is also a big movie," he said.

"Which is exactly what I want to do."

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