Friday, February 27, 2015

March's Film's and Filmmakers

This month we welcome The Starfish Throwers, Old South, and This Ain't No Mouse Music! Find out more about these films below and check out the webpage to stay up-to-date with the entire lineup for the 2014-2015 Southern Circuit Film Schedule.

Jesse Roesler is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker whose work has been screened internationally in venues such as the SXSW Film Festival and on Current TV. Jesse’s approach to filmmaking is best described as ‘cinematic authenticity.’ By fusing narrative cinematic technique with the authenticity found in documentary-style filmmaking, his work blurs the lines between fiction and non-fiction by capturing the truth in a conceptually thoughtful manner

As Impact Producer for The Starfish Throwers, Pete Tedrow helped manage the Kickstarter campaign to put the finishing touches on the film, coordinates distribution, handles outreach to community partners around the globe, develops social media strategy, and handles press communications. A freelance writer and educator, Pete holds a BA in English from Macalester College and an MFA in Writing from Hamline University. He also has extensive film festival experience, having worked on staff with the Sundance, Tribeca, and the Minneapolis St. Paul International; and volunteered with Telluride, Toronto International, and Sound Unseen.

Worlds apart, a five-star chef, a twelve year-old girl, and a retired school teacher discover how their The Starfish Throwers tells tale of these remarkable individuals and the unexpected challenges they face. Despite being constantly reminded that hunger is far too big for one person to solve, they persevere and see their impact ripple further than their individual actions
individual efforts to feed the poor ignite a movement in the fight against hunger. Award-winning chef Narayanan Krishnan, fighting against the caste system in India, quits his job to begin a life of cooking and hand-delivering fresh meals to hundreds of people in his hometown. Katie Stagliano’s planting of a single cabbage seedling when she was nine years old blossoms into Katie’s Krops, a non-profit with 73 gardens dedicated to ending hunger. Retired middle school teacher Allan Law battles personal health issues as he hand-delivers more than a thousand sandwiches nightly to the hungry in Minneapolis.


March 4: Clemson University, Clemson, SC
March 15: Winder Cultural Arts Center, Winder, GA
March 17: Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA
March 19: Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, AL

Danielle Beverly makes documentaries, often filming and recording sound as a solo filmmaker in the field. In 2014 she was awarded a BAVC National MediaMaker Fellowship for Old South. Beverly was Field Producer for Rebirth over its ten-year production. Her first feature Learning to Swallow premiered at Silverdocs and toured with Southern Circuit in 2005. Beverly is a Nohl Artists Fellowship, a Flaherty Seminar Fellowship and has received grants from the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, the Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund, NYSCA and the Puffin Foundation. She also teaches documentary filmmaking (most recently at Marquette University and The University of Notre Dame) and works as a documentary cameraperson.

When the Kappa Alpha (KA), the most elite of the white fraternities at the University of Georgia, buys and demolishes houses on one block in a historic African American neighborhood, the black community becomes agitated. For the blacks, the KA symbolizes the old south - an annual antebellum parade, the flying of the Confederate flag, and loud parties with beer bottles littering the neighborhood.

The arrival of the KA galvanizes Hope, a 30-year old African American woman. Hope grew up in the neighborhood. The lot that the KA purchased contains the home that she grew up in, that has housed her grandparents and great grandparents, and that her physician mother still lives in. Hope begins to organize her neighbors to fight for historical designation, with the goal of slowing, if not thwarting the path of gentrification of the community.

Yet, as in many Southern towns, centuries of racism in this community have created a thorny co-existence between blacks and whites, poor and wealthy. Thus the question viewers are left with: can change truly happen? Or do we simply keep our biases behind closed doors? Old South will open dialogue, revealing that there are often no easy solutions.


March 11: Indie Memphis, Memphis, TN
March 12: Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts, Auburn University, Auburn, AL
March 14: Creative City Collaborative, Pompano Beach, FL
March 16: East Tennessee State University, Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, Johnson City, TN
March 18: Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA
March 19: Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC

Director and Producers Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling met over thirty years ago while working with world-renowned documentarian Les Blank. After successful collaborations with Blank over 20 years, Simon and Gosling pursued their own projects. Gosling directed and produced Blossoms of Fire a feature documentary on the Isthmus Zapotecs of southern Oaxaca. Simon produced and directed four independent documentaries including the award-winning Down an Old Road and My Canyonlands. Gosling and Simon re-united for This Ain’t No Mouse Music!  because of their love of music and cultures that Chris Strachwitz brought to the forefront to audiences around the world – and to share the vision of their longtime friend and colleague.

Roots music icon Chris Strachwitz is a detective of sounds, an archaeologist of deep American music, the antithesis of the corporate ‘mouse music’ that dominates the American ear. Born a German count, Strachwitz fled his homeland after WWII at 16. In the United States he discovered, and shared, a musical landscape that most Americans missed. For the last fifty years, he has carried his tape recorder from sharecrop shacks to roadside honkytonks, from cantina dives to wild Blues clubs. His recordings on his independent label, Arhoolie Records, introduced Cajun music from Louisiana, Tex-Mex from Texas, and Blues from the country into the living rooms of the world. These recordings revolutionized the sound of music around the world. In This Ain’t No Mouse Music! filmmakers Chris Simon and Maureen Gosling join Strachwitz for a hip-shaking stomp from New Orleans to Texas, Cajun country to Appalachia, as he continues his passionate quest for the musical soul of America. Features: Chris Strachwitz, Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt, Taj Mahal, Flaco Jimenez, Michael Doucet, Richard Thompson, Santiago Jimenez, Jr., The Pine Leaf Boys, the Treme Brass Band, No Speed Limit, and others.


March 12: Madison-Morgan Cultural Center Madison GA
March 13: City of Hapeville Hapeville GA
March 14: The Tennessee Valley Art Association/Ritz Theatre Sheffield AL
March 17: Western Carolina University Cullowhee NC
March 19: Robinson Film Center Shreveport LA
March 20: Union College Barbourville KY

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Cynthia Hill from Private Violence - Madison-Morgan Cultural Center & City of Hapeville

From Cynthia Hill of Private Violence:

As a North Carolinian, I always feel pretty welcome in Georgia. In fact, my Southern Circuit tour screenings there this month allowed me to combine two of my greatest passions: film and food. As the director of “A Chef’s Life” on PBS, I had to make two extra stops for Georgia eats based on recommendations from Chef Vivian Howard (see photos on twitter @docusouth). But this trip was about showing Private Violence and engaging communities in conversation about a very complex societal problem - domestic violence. I was renewed and energized by the screenings in Madison and Hapeville, and both locales were warm and welcoming. For me, the unique part of these particular screening events was the bonus of seeing the domestic violence advocacy community come out and have a chance to share what they do with their community members. I think many people could go their whole life without even knowing that domestic violence advocates are out there fighting every day. I got to know this reality very well while making the film.

What also gets me every time I screen Private Violence is how engaged people are, especially once that light bulb goes off - that moment when they realize that the “Why didn’t she just leave?” mentality is not where to start unpacking this issue. And, when that happens, and people feel safe to ask questions, they want to know what they can do, how they can help, where we can go from here. They want to know how to volunteer in their local community. It’s not just batterers who need to change – it is our culture, our justice system. They want to hear perspective on why abusers aren’t held accountable (answer: because they CAN and DO get away with this). But I believe this can change. And I want others to believe that, and work towards it, as well. As one attendee said, “It was truly amazing to see Deanna transform in this film. It was hard to watch, but it is something we all need to watch. She became a victor.” Thank you, South Arts, for making these conversations possible and thanks to everyone who came out in Georgia.

Cynthia Hill, director, Private Violence

Monday, February 23, 2015

Kit Gruelle from Private Violence - The Tennessee Valley Art Association, Western Carolina University, & Robinson Film Center

From Kit Gruelle of Private Violence:

In Shreveport at the Robinson Film Center on 2/19/15 from left to right (Sgt. Lindsey Bonner - Shreveport Police Department Domestic Violence Unit; the one and only Kit; Angela Henderson - Project Celebration Sexual Assault Executive Director & Domestic Violence Advisor; Petrina Jenkins - Project Celebration Domestic Violence Community Educator & Public Relations Coordinator.

I attended three screenings of Private Violence on the Southern Circuit tour – one in Sheffield, Alabama, one in Shreveport, Louisiana and one here in my own state of North Carolina, at Western Carolina University. Each event and audience was completely different, but the common thread between them was clear: the people who came believe wholeheartedly that domestic violence is something that everyone should care about and get involved in preventing. It is not an issue that is just the domestic violence agency’s “problem.” It is not a “private” problem. And it will take greater collaboration with everyone across our communities, not just with our criminal justice professionals, to get there. Domestic violence is, in fact, a societal problem that, directly or indirectly, touches everyone.

I was inspired by talking to so many people, and was especially moved by the young people who were passionate about getting into this work. I talked to several young women and men out there who are just starting their work on ending violence against women, and they were not afraid of what they are getting into. I was thrilled to see law enforcement so actively engaged at the screening in Shreveport. I loved that half of the people who attended the WCU event were men. There is much to be hopeful about. And yet, I still heard stories from advocates in the audience that made my skin crawl and my jaw drop. One lamented the fact that a particular judge in a neighboring county refuses to issue any protective orders period because he, “doesn’t want to come between a man and his gun.” This is 2015! We have the power to change communities with this film and its community outreach initiative and we appreciate Southern Circuit for giving us the opportunity to nurture these conversations.

When people come together to watch the film and participate in its outreach and collaboration initiative, they learn about the complex realities battered women and children face in their communities. Important relationships get formed, which leads to a more comprehensive and community-based response. No one person or agency can do this work alone, but together, much good can be accomplished.

Monday, February 02, 2015

February's Films and Filmmakers

It's February and that means Southern Circuit is gearing up for the second half of it's season! This month we welcome Brothers Hypnotic, Private Violence, The New Black, and Remote Area Medical. Read on to find out more about these films and check out the entire lineup for the 2014-2015 Southern Circuit Film Schedule.

Reuben Atlas is an award-winning filmmaker and non-practicing lawyer. He premiered Brothers Hypnotic at the SXSW Film Festival in 2013 and is currently making a Sundance Institute and IDA-supported film about the controversial community group, ACORN, as well as a film about the esoteric world of fine wine. Previously, he worked at a maximum-security prison, a music law firm, and Legal Aid.
For the eight young men in the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, brotherhood is literal: they’re all sons of anti-establishment jazz legend Phil Cohran. Cohran and their mothers raised them together on Chicago’s South Side on a strict diet of jazz, funk and Black Consciousness. Family band practice began at 6 AM. Now grown, Brothers Hypnotic shows as the brothers try to make it - while playing in the streets of New York, collaborating with Mos Def, or wowing at a jazz festival - they find the values their father bred into them tested.


Feb 08: Winder Cultural Arts Center, Winder, GA
Feb 10: Morris Museum of Art, Augusta, GA
Feb 11: Clemson University, Clemson, SC
Feb 12: Wallace State Community College, Hanceville, AL

Kit Gruelle is a survivor of domestic violence and has worked as a battered women’s advocate and community educator for over 25 years. She is dedicated to challenging the stereotypes and prevailing belief systems about violence against women and children, and the prevalence of out-of-date responses that do little to change the fundamental dynamics of domestic violence.

Cynthia Hill is a producer and director whose credits include Tobacco Money Feeds My FamilyThe GuestworkerFebruary One, and A Chef’s Life. Hill’s work has appeared on PBS and the Sundance Channel. She is the co-founder of the Southern Documentary Fund. Hill is from Pink Hill, NC and resides in Durham.

Private Violence is a feature-length documentary film and audience engagement campaign exploring a simple, but deeply disturbing, fact of American life: the most dangerous place for a woman in America is her own home. Every day in the United States, at least four women are murdered by abusive (and often ex-) partners. The knee-jerk response is to ask, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Private Violence shatters the brutality of this logic. Through the eyes of two survivors, filmgoers witness the complicated and complex realities of intimate partner violence.


Feb 12: Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, Madison, GA
Feb 13: City of Hapeville, Hapeville, GA
Feb 14: The Tennessee Valley Art Association/Ritz Theatre, Sheffield, AL
Feb 17: Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC
Feb 19: Robinson Film Center, Shreveport, LA
Feb 20: Union College, Barbourville, KY

Yoruba Richen is a documentary filmmaker who has directed and
produced films in the United States and abroad including Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. Richen has been an associate producer for the investigative unit of ABC News, as well as a producer for Democracy Now. Richen won the Creative Promise Award at Tribeca All Access and was a Sundance Institute’s Producers’ Fellow. She is a 2014 featured TED Speaker and a Guggenheim Fellow. Richen is Director of the Documentary Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.

The New Black tells the story of an African-American community grappling with gay rights in light of the recent gay marriage movement and fights over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaigning to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church. It tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community.


Feb 18: Oxford College of Emory University, Oxford, GA
Feb 19: Presbyterian College, Clinton, SC
Feb 21: Creative City Collaborative, Pompano Beach, FL
Feb 23: East Tennessee State University, Mary B. Martin School of the Arts, Johnson City, TN
Feb 25: Indie Memphis, Memphis, TN
Feb 26: Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Arts, Auburn University, Auburn, AL

Farihah Zaman is a Brooklyn-based journalist, producer, and programmer. Her diverse background in the film industry includes programming and serving on the Advisory Board of the Film South Asia documentary film festival, working as the Acquisitions Manager at Magnolia Pictures, and working as the Program Manager of The Flaherty, organizing their historic, contentious annual film seminar and launching a monthly screening series at Anthology Film Archives. She is currently a staff writer at the film journal Reverse Shot, blogs for the Huffington Post, and has produced such projects as the trailer for the 2010 New York Film Festival. Her first feature film is Remote Area Medical and this was followed by the short Kombit (2014 Sundance Film Festival) and second feature This Time Next Year (2014 Tribeca Film Festival).

Jeff Reichert’s first feature film, Gerrymandering, premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival where it was named one of the best of the festival by New York Magazine. His second feature film, Remote Area Medical, had its world premiere at the 2013 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and has won numerous awards and screened at festivals across the U.S. It is slated for theatrical release in Fall of 2014. His short, Kombit premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, and he recently premiered his third feature, This Time Next Year at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. He is the co-editor of the popular online journal Reverse Shot.

During the U.S. debate about healthcare reform, the media—reporters and news crews and filmmakers—failed to put a human face on what it means to not have access to healthcare. Remote Area Medical fills that gap—it is a film about people, not policy. Focusing on a single three-day clinic held in the Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee, Remote Area Medical affords us an insider’s perspective on the ebb and flow of the event—from the tense 3:30 a.m. ticket distribution that determines who gets seen to the routine check-ups that take dramatic turns for the worse, to the risky means to which some patients resort for pain relief. We meet a doctor who also drives an 18-wheeler, a denture maker who moonlights as a jeweler, and the organization’s founder, Stan Brock, who first imagined Remote Area Medical while living as a cowboy in the Amazon rainforest, hundreds of miles from the nearest doctor. But it is the extraordinary stories of the patients, desperate for medical attention, that create a lasting impression about the state of modern health care in America.


Feb 11: Clemson University, Clemson, SC

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

We Love Short Films!

Calling all Filmmakers! The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is accepting submissions for the 2015-16 season! Screen your film, tour the South, get paid...join the Circuit! Visit the South Arts Southern Circuit Page for more details.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Calling all Filmmakers

Calling all Filmmakers! The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is accepting submissions for the 2015-16 season! Screen your film, tour the South, get paid...join the Circuit!

Southern Circuit brings the best of independent film to communities across the South. Audiences have seen over 200 films and have engaged filmmakers in post-screening discussions in more than 50 communities across the Southern United States. The tour takes the audience away from their televisions and computers to connect them with independent filmmakers. Southern Circuit transforms watching independent films from a solitary experience into a communal one.

South Arts invites filmmakers from anywhere in the United States to submit their work for consideration in the 2015-16 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers.To learn more about the circuit and film/filmmaker eligibility requirements, visit the South Arts Southern Circuit Page.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Hao Wu, The Road to Fame - West Carolina University, Madison-Morgan Cultural Center, & Hapeville, Georgia

From Filmmaker Hao Wu of The Road to Fame:

I guess it could be depressing when an audience came up to you after a screening of your film, and told you that your film made him depressed. The stories of young people struggling to make it in showbiz was too close to home, he said. He was a college student studying filmmaking at West Carolina University (Cullowhee, NC) and the prospect of becoming a successful filmmaker was looking remote.

I quoted a line from the veteran musical director featured in my film - "Only those who really want this can survive" - and wished him good luck in figuring out the industry, and himself.

And then I was elated. I had done my job right, I thought, that I could move an American youth this way with a story about Chinese kids feeling the same stress in the faraway Beijing. What more could we ask for as filmmakers telling stories close to our hearts?

In Madison GA, much younger audiences watched the film. Fifth graders. They were into performing arts and couldn't stop talking about the film after the screening at the beautiful Madison-Morgan Cultural Center. They had a long road ahead of them, and their optimism was innocent, and pure.

In Hapeville, Georgia, the city held the screening at The Historic Christ Church Building & Carriage House. The atmosphere felt like a cozy community party. One audience said afterwards that The Road to Fame was his first time watching a subtitled film. Now he realized that he'd missed out on a lot of good foreign films.

The Southern Circuit Tour was an intense experience with lots of flying, driving and meeting different people from different states. But for an independent filmmaker, it was such a rare opportunity to see the beautiful land in the south, to meet curious and engaging audiences who embrace good storytelling regardless of differences in language, culture and geography. Many asked me during the tour when I could be back with my next film. I replied soon, hopefully soon.

Upward and onward on the road to storytelling!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hao Wu, The Road to Fame - Robinson Film Center, Union College, & Ritz Theatre

From Filmmaker Hao Wu of The Road to Fame:

The first leg of my Southern Circuit tour was intense; two flights each day, and one to two hours of driving to get to most screening venues. Exhausting, but what a trip! As an immigrant who had lived in six American cities over fifteen years, I had never stepped foot in the south. Not that I didn't want to - kids of my generation grew up in China reading Gone With The Wind, but somehow I never managed to. Now I'm able to have a fast and furious immersion of southern hospitality, all thanks to South Arts.

Meanwhile, I'm hoping my The Road to Fame is bringing a little China to the south. Most of the audience members have never been to China. So naturally, I was apprehensive about how the audiences would receive such a subtitled film from a faraway land.

Surprisingly, however, many came up to me after the screenings, saying the characters in the film didn't feel foreign to them. At the Robinson Film Center and Union College, students completely identified with the dreams, the anxieties over potential failures, and the pressure from family and society that the Chinese students experienced in the film. Those with ambitions in the arts felt the resonance the strongest.

Meanwhile, older audiences tended to be more interested in what China is like and how it is changing. At the Ritz Theater in Sheffield, AL, several audience members had visited China a long time ago, and it was eye opening for me even to learn about the country they knew that had been erased by recent developments. After the screening, they queried me about the one-child policy, the performance arts industry in China, and what I thought where China is going. It was extremely rewarding for a filmmaker to be able to move audiences with a universal story, and to act as a cultural ambassador for his home country at the same time.

All three screening venues so far - Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, LA, Union College in Barbourville, KY, and the Ritz Theater in Sheffield, AL - are beautiful. No hustle and bustle of the big city or the local multiplex. Stepping inside them was like being transported back in time, when film watching was once cozy and communal. My hosts - Meghan Hochstetler in Shreveport, Diana Mills at Union College and Jim Berryman in Sheffield - lavished their attention and care, for which I'm immensely grateful. I'm eagerly looking forward to the second leg of screenings in North Carolina and Georgia, and will report back soon.