March 24, 2016
Last week, the Mississippi film community lost a legend.
On Thursday, March 16, Jim Dollarhide's home near Lake Cavalier in Madison went up in flames, and on Wednesday, March 23, Madison County Coroner Alex Breeland confirmed that they found the filmmaker’s body in the wreckage.
Dollarhide was born in 1952 in Greenwood, Miss., where his father, Roger Freeman Dollarhide, ran a record store called Dollarhide Music Shop.
Jim attended Murrah High School and originally planned to become a photographer. When he learned that the United States Army was going to reinstate the draft, he joined to be part of the photo corps. Ultimately, he only spent six weeks in the army and later earned his GED. After that, he received a full scholarship for photography at Hinds Community College.
After Dollarhide dropped out of college, his friend, Sergio Fernandez, asked him about working on a TV commercial. It was then that he discovered his love for cinema.
In 1977, he founded Imageworks. After Jackson flooded in 1979, filmmakers Vilmos Zsigmod and Mark Rydell asked Dollarhide’s company to shoot footage for a 1984 film called "The River," which starred Mel Gibson and Sissy Spacek.
After years of working under the Imageworks moniker, Dollardhide closed the company in 1998, though he started Dollarhide Film only a short time after.
Besides national commercial spots for brands such as Scope and NyQuil and award-winning campaigns, including his anti-tobacco spots, Dollarhide was best known for his documentaries. He scored an Academy Award nomination for Best Documentary with the film "LaLee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton," which made the connection between poverty and the lack of education opportunities for African Americans in the Mississippi Delta. The film won an award for Excellence in Cinematography at the Sundance Film Festival in 2001. He also won the award for Best Director in the 1995 International Monitor Awards for "Harmonies: A Mississippi Overture."
In more recent years, Dollarhide created a B.B. King documentary for the B.B. King Museum in Indianola. The museum won a Muse Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in museum media, for the film in 2009. Dollarhide, along with filmmaker Gregg Wallace, had been working on updates to the documentary since King's death in 2015.
A wake for Jim Dollarhide will be at Hal & Mal's (200 Commerce St., 601-948-0888) Thursday, March 24, from 5 to 9 p.m.