Monday, October 20, 2008

"Ripe for Change" Tour Day 10 Orangeburg, South Carolina

This was a day of "firsts" for me as a filmmaker. The first time I ever screened a film in South Carolina, the first time I ever projected it on the curved walls of a planetarium and the first time Ripe for Change was screened and discussed at a historic black university and college, South Carolina State University (SCSU) in Orangeburg,South Carolina. The screening was sponsored by in the IP Stanback Museum and Planetarium. The audience was primarily education professors and their students who themselves will be teaching very soon.

Ellen Zisholtz, the museum's director told me that they have been presenting films in The Southern Circuit Independent Film Tour for several years. With only a couple of exceptions most of the cities on my tour had not previously been part of the tour. I am amazed that all ten cities on the Ripe for Change tour were able to turn out such great audiences whether they were first time venues or had done it for years like the Stanback Museum.

The discussion that followed the screening revealed a lot of complexity about issues of agriculture and sustainability in Orangeburg. I was informed that agriculture was a major focus of the university historically, and that some 800 acres that were part of the original campus' agriculture teaching and research program is now a golf course. Others expressed concerns about all of the agriculture land that will be gobbled up by a new international "port" owned and run by a company owned by the country of Dubai.

The feedback on the film itself from the audience was extremely positive. A professor asked if Ripe for Change was on PBS online. If it was she could start working it into her curriuculum. Others asked about what had happened with professor Tyrone Hayes at UC Berkeley with his studies of Atrozine, the most widely used herbicide in the US. I should not have been surprised to learn that many of the SCSU students were raised on small farms across South Carolina.

After the screening and discussion Ellen and a few professors came over to Ellen's home where we talked late into the night about the film and the issues it raises. I stayed at Ellen's that night and told her that I appreciated her New York brand of southern hospitality.

Ellen showed me some of the new exhibits coming up in future at the Stanback Museum including one of James Brown and and another of Andy Warhol photos. Very impressive but she is most proud of a major exhibition on the heritage of an African-American community on the Island populated by the descendants of slaves who have kept parts of their culture intact over centuries.