Friday, November 12, 2010

Burning In the Sun in the Carolinas and Georgia

I’m an oddity in the South. I’m a young Jewish woman from Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn, Vermont, and recently Portland, OR. People I meet who aren’t associated with the Southern Tour want to know what on earth I’m doing in their town. It’s been a blast meeting people from all these different pockets of the country and hearing their perspectives on where they come from.

On Tuesday I had a screening on the campus of East Carolina University in Greenville, NC, a college town, mostly. The audience there was the biggest yet, and a handful of film production students were eager to learn about the filmmaking process and other technical details. Other students were there for school credit and less verbally enthusiastic about what they saw, but I was pleased to have them there and hoped they got something from the show. Thanks to Michael Crane, Michael Dermody and Morgan for taking me out afterwards for a fun cocktail hour at a local haunt. It was especially cool to meet Morgan, a student new to film production, but obviously born to be a film producer. Can’t wait to see what she does!

Wednesday I had a long drive to Augusta, GA and was thankful again for the generally above-average high speed at which freeway driving seems to happen down here. The film was showing at the Morris Museum of Art, which I think is the first museum setting BITS has had. A gracious crowd assembled to see the film - thanks to Kevin and Michelle for including us in their lineup; in the museum’s monthly calendar we were listed next to To Kill A Mockingbird, which caught my attention and humbled me yet again. The next day I had time to go back to the museum to look at their collection of Southern art, mostly paintings, including a special exhibit on Helen Turner from New Orleans. Before leaving town, I also squeezed in a tour of my homebase, the epic Rosemary Inn, "one of the finest examples of the Beaux-Arts style built in 1902." Thanks to Diana and Kelly for being such generous hosts (they donate rooms to filmmakers on the tour). What a gorgeous, historic home, and what a treat!

Later that day I took the backroads to get to my next destination, and was rewarded with breathtaking South Carolina forests dotted with crisp red foliage and bright cotton fields. It felt like the heart of autumn.

In Orangeburg, SC, the film showed on the campus of South Carolina University, an HBCU (Historically Black College and University). It also showed on the ceiling of an awesome planetarium there – another first! Artist and Museum Studies professor Ellen Zisholtz was my host, and I was grateful that she insisted on showing me the current exhibit at the museum there, a multimedia look at the experiences of racism suffered by Jews and African-Americans. The exhibit felt fresh and daring, personal and real. Thanks to all the faculty and administrators I met at the college, and especially to Ellen, who even hosted me at her home that evening.

Now I’m headed back to the Gulf…