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Shelandra Y. Ford
Historical Markers of Shelby County

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Modern Movie Making In Memphis

On this South Main Street corner in 1988 the modern wave of Memphis movie making was born, in great measure through the efforts of the Memphis & Shelby County Film Commissioner Linn Sitler and Shelby County Government official Alonzo Woods. Until Mystery Train, Memphis had not hosted a nationally-distributed feature film since King Vidor's Hallelujah!, which had been based in the city in 1928 to shoot much of its principal photography here. An independent feature, Mystery Train later won producer/director Jim Jarmusch a major award at the 1989 Cannes Film Festival. (Continued on other side) The Mystery Train film was immediately followed in Memphis by Orion Pictures Great Balls of Fire!, which told the life story of Sun Studio legend, Jerry Lee Lewis. Later Memphis-based filmmaking included such notable and diverse features as The Firm, 21 Grams, Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner Forty Shades of Blue (directed by Memphian Ira Sachs), Academy Award winners Hustle & Flow (directed By Memphian Craig Brewer), and Walk the Line, the life story of yet another Sun Studio legend, Johnny Cash. The Commission's on-going efforts to recruit and develop the film and television industries continue into the 21st century.