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2012 Indie Memphis Film Festival dates set, new venue added

The Indie Memphis Film Festival has announced the dates for this year’s festival, as well as the addition of a new venue at which to show films.

The festival will mark its 15th anniversary this year from Nov. 1 through Nov. 4. And The Circuit Playhouse joins festival venues that include Playhouse on the Square, Malco’s Studio on the Square and the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Auditorium at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Memphis-based investment banking firm Duncan-Williams Inc. returns this year as presenting sponsor of the festival. This year’s follows a stellar 2011 for the festival, which set a new record of 8,000 attendees, welcomed Duncan-Williams as presenting sponsor, won a second $10,000 festival grant from the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and saw two of its films capture Oscar nominations.

Bank of Bartlett posts quarterly profit

Bank of Bartlett has reported its second consecutive quarterly profit, posting an increase in net income for the fourth quarter as well as a profit for the second half of 2011.

Bank of Bartlett is the 11th largest bank based in Memphis as ranked by deposits according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. It reported Q4 net income of a little more than $712,500, compared to a more than $1.5 million loss during the year-ago period.

The bank reported a decline in non-performing assets, a 39 percent drop from more than $46.5 million in Q4 2010 to $28.2 million in Q4 2011. Non-accrual loans dropped 70 percent to $8 million from $27 million during the same quarter in 2010, and total delinquencies dropped to 7.5 percent.

“We are pleased to have experienced another profitable quarter for the year, and we remain well-positioned to sustain profitability as we move into 2012,” said Harold Byrd, president of Bank of Bartlett, which was founded in 1980. “The bank’s positive earnings report is due in large part to a strategic plan to reduce expenses and control costs in what continues to be a very tough banking environment. We believe this has set us on a course for more profitable quarters for years to come. We are proud of our employees and the hard work they continue to do during difficult times so that our customers continue to enjoy their banking experience with Bank of Bartlett.”

Grizzlies’ Fourth Straight Loss Leads to Team Meeting

Lose a fourth straight game, give so little effort that your coach says to the media, “Did you see effort out there?” and it’s time for a closed-door meeting.

And that’s what the Grizzlies had Monday night after an 83-73 loss to the San Antonio Spurs that inspired boos from the FedExForum crowd and had coach Lionel Hollins saying the guys known for Grit and Grind were “not working.”

Point guard Mike Conley said that he, Marc Gasol, O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay collectively called the meeting.

“Guys were able to talk to each other face-to-face, call each other out, and be accountable,” Conley said. “If guys accept it as constructive criticism, be a man about it, we’ll be fine.”

At least part of the meeting dealt with defensive issues, whether or not players “have each other’s back.”

Said Conley: “Guys gotta trust each other defensively. We can’t be out there thinking, ‘I’m not gonna help because when I got beat I didn’t get any help.’”

The Grizzlies’ locker room remained closed much longer than usual after the game and when media were finally allowed in Tony Allen was the only one there to answer questions for several minutes.

The sum of Allen’s comments: “At the end of the day, we should never be talking about effort being why we’re losing games.”

The four-game losing streak began after a fantastic comeback at Golden State. The Grizzlies then lost by 13 at Portland, by seven in L.A. to the Clippers, and by two at Phoenix. The Grizzlies are 10-10 and if the playoffs started now, they would not be part of them.

San Antonio (13-9) outrebounded Memphis 46-37, and the Grizzlies had just 10 assists with 17 turnovers. They allowed Spurs reserve Matt Bonner to get one wide-open 3-point look after another on the way to hitting 5-of-9 long shots for his 15 points. The Spurs also held a 32-28 edge on points in the paint, a category the Grizzlies almost always win by a large margin.

“Defense and rebounding are both effort stats,” Hollins said.

The Spurs held Gay, averaging 18.7 points per game, without a field goal (0-for-7) and he scored one point. Gasol grabbed 12 rebounds, but had just seven points on 3-for-11 shooting.

“I take responsibility for that,” Gay said of his one-point night. “You won’t see that again from me.”

The lockout-shortened season has squeezed the schedule and the Grizzlies admit to being tired, but they also said every other team is weary too. And there’s no time to rest with the Denver Nuggets (14-6) coming into FedExForum Tuesday night.

“We have to show pride,” Conley said. “This game is something we love to do and we have to show that. We have to come out playing like the hungry team we normally are.”

And if they come out like the team that barely participated Monday night?

“We’re not gonna have a chance,” Conley said.

Special council committee meeting tomorrow on annexation

(6:16 p.m. See below for update to this post)

The Memphis City Council’s Personnel, Intergovernmental and Annexation Committee is holding a special meeting tomorrow at 4:30.

One item is on the agenda. – “An Ordinance to extend the boundaries of the City Limits of the City of Memphis by annexing the Gray’s Creek Annexation Area and assigning said area to a Council District.”

That didn’t take long. It’s in response to bills filed in Nashville in recent days that would limit future annexations of Memphis by taking away parts of the city’s annexation reserve area.

There are a few things to keep in mind. That area is important to the ongoing schools debate, because all five of the plans for municipal school districts built around Shelby County’s suburban towns and cities include some use of the city of Memphis annexation reserve areas or unincorporated rural areas.

I would also point out, though, that Memphis has not lost a battle – at least, on the legal front – to any annexation efforts in recent memory.

Some city officials have already spoken to reporters about the newest bills with comments that harken back to one of Mayor Wharton’s widely-circulated lines from last year: “When people in Memphis do things that the gods in Nashville don’t like, they change the rules.”

Late Monday, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton Jr. and City Council Chairman Bill Morrison issued a joint statement:

“On the evening when Governor Bill Haslam prepares to give his State of the State, we find ourselves deeply troubled by several state proposals that would stifle Memphis’ ability to grow.

Based on the 1998 growth plan agreement, which cemented the growth areas of all the municipalities in Shelby County and was approved by the state legislature, the City of Memphis has already begun investing resources in this east Shelby County area, including an $80 million sewer project and other basic services such as fire protection.

These proposals, put forth without even a courtesy call to local government, single out the City of Memphis at a time when other municipalities have recently used the same 1998 agreement – without argument or interference – to annex their reserve areas. It’s a move that smacks of racism, classism, and schoolyard bullying.

Last year, we saw these same legislators try to leapfrog over the will of our citizens to surrender the charter of Memphis City Schools and to establish a unified Shelby County school system.

This is a continued all-out assault on Memphis and its right to govern itself. We are calling upon all of our local leaders – whether they be leaders in politics, business, or the philanthropic arena – and the residents of Memphis to let their state representatives know that this will not stand.

If need be, we will meet this challenge in court.”

 

Twitterati’s much ado about nothing

The folks behind the curtain at Twitter made a startling announcement via blog post Friday: The popular microblogging service can now block tweets that run afoul of the law on a country-by-country basis.

Censorship! The four-letter dirty word of the Internet! (Actually, it’ll take up 10 of your 140 characters, if you’re keeping count.)

The twitterati was in an uproar. They planned a #TwitterBlackout for Saturday that appeared – based on my completely unscientific first glance, at least – to have absolutely no effect on traffic over there.

Hey, considering users post a billion tweets every four days, you don’t really miss a few here or there.

… And that’s exactly how tweeters got it wrong.

See, Twitter’s “new” policy isn’t new at all, but nobody missed those few tweets here or there until the policy was in the spotlight.

The site routinely removes tweets that break foreign law – the blog post uses the example of pro-Nazi content banned in France and Germany – but until now, Twitter has done so on a global basis. Now the tweets can be removed from users in one country while still being viewable elsewhere. And should you find yourself in an affected country, Twitter has made no secret of an easy workaround.

Another non-change: Twitter’s policy on when it removes tweets. Tweets are removed reactively, not filtered. That means it takes a while. And that means future social media-fueled uprisings – a la #ArabSpring and #OccupyWallStreet – can carry on uninhibited. (Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing isn’t my call to make.)

The not-new “new” policy on removing tweets is not likely to affect Twitter’s popularity on a global scale. Did I mention the billion tweets every four days?

The site reports its user base numbers some 100 million, with 50 million logging in daily. It’s going to take more than a one-day blackout to make a dent in that.

Dansette

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