Growing up in Brookhaven, movies were a big part of Ryan Parker’s life. On weekends, he was refreshing his stack of VHS rentals. Or, attending the local four-screen movie theatre – a luxury not offered in many small Mississippi towns.
“Film brings together writing, visuals, music – all of it together. I don’t know of anything like it. I think good films can change your life. I think they can change the way you see the world, the way you see other people,” said Parker, reflecting on the power of film. “They are empathy engines, in my mind, when done well. I think about films in my life that had as much impact as any class I’ve taken or sermon I’ve sat through. Bringing films like that to Mississippi, creating space and setting the table for that is so important.”
While his weekends at Brookhaven’s Regal Cinema are behind him, Parker has his sights on building a bigger table for film in Mississippi through the newly formed Mississippi Film Society. He hopes to use the organization as a launching pad to educate, inspire and entertain Mississippians through community screenings, film curriculum, lectures, workshops and, in the near future, a film festival. To help bring his vision to life, Parker recently opened the Mississippi Film Society Fund and Mississippi Film Society Endowment Fund at the Community Foundation for Mississippi to support operations and ensure sustainability for generations to come.