Friday, September 05, 2014

And they're off...2014-2015 Southern Circuit Filmmakers on Tour

I was never good at keeping a journal, thus the lag in Southern Circuit blog posts since last spring. But a lot has happened. We wrapped a very successful 2013-2014 Southern Circuit season, reviewed hundreds of films for this season of the Circuit, hosted a fun (we did work hard!) film selection panel meeting (photo below) & prepped for the 2014-2015 Southern Circuit Tour. But enough about the summer...

I'm honored to introduce our September films & filmmakers. You'll not want to miss,  
My Toxic Backyard, Speak Now& Oil & Water. So check out more about these three terrific films and the entire line-up of our 2014-2015 Southern Circuit Film Schedule.

You can thank me later.

Katie Damien is an award-winning filmmaker with a Bachelor of Arts in film production from the University of Central Florida. Katie has always been known for her creative endeavors, spending much of her childhood performing plays for family members and writing songs that always rhymed, but never made sense. It wasn't until the ripe age of twelve that she first picked up her uncle's VHS camera and shot her first short film with her cousins and sister. The movie was so bad, the tape was immediately erased and the movie was never seen. Undeterred, Katie continued to make movies until finally one day someone decided to pay her. Damien was born and raised in Florida and is currently living in Asheville, North Carolina. She’s been awarded various accolades at film festivals. She’s also won five Southeast Regional Emmy Awards including writing and directing. She does commercial production as well as independent film work. My Toxic Backyard is her first feature film.

What if you found out you had cancer, then you discovered your well water was contaminated, then you tried to sue the company responsible, but couldn’t? Then you fought to get the site cleaned up and nothing happened. Then you tried to sell your house, but no one wanted to buy it. What would you do? What could you do?  
My Toxic Backyard chronicles a community's fight to get clean drinking water and see the chemicals, still leaking into their groundwater, cleaned up.

Noah Harald is a director and filmmaker who has loved with the moving image since his father got in trouble with his mother for allowing him to see Goodfellas at age nine. Since then, Noah has made a name for himself as a multiple award-winning filmmaker. He has won film festival awards and online acclaim, as well as garnered a MTV Movie Award nomination. Noah recently premiered Speak Now at The Austin Film Festival where it won the Write/Rec Audience Award. He brings his unique taste for highly visual storytelling to a growing commercial career working with companies such as Sony, Best Buy, Food Network, Adidas and Doritos. Noah is also the owner/maintainer of a glorious full beard.

Secrets unleashed at a wedding cause chaos for the bride and groom, altering  the lives of all in attendance. With performances from a talented ensemble of emerging actors, Speak Now is a romantic dramedy about friends reuniting. Setting aside their personal issues to support the union of Tommy and Anna was the intention of the wedding guests, but as the night unfolds old offenses and a newly mounting scandal plunge the group back into a pool of high-school drama.


Francine Strickwerda is an award-winning director, writer and producer of documentary films and Web sites. She co-directed Oil & Water for PBS and the acclaimed documentary Busting Out. In addition to working on local and national shows at Seattle’s KCTS Public Television, she produced and executive edited national PBS Web sites including Don't Buy It, Videogame Revolution, Exploring Space, and was a senior producer at She currently runs Hullabaloo, a Seattle video production company with her husband, and has created videos for clients including the United Nations, Fortune 500 companies and the Seattle Fire Department. Francine began her career as a reporter for newspapers in Washington and Idaho. She studied journalism Washington State University.

Laurel Spellman Smith is a two-time regional Emmy Award-winning producer of national and local programs for PBS including The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer and Faith & Fear: The Children of Krishna. She co-directed and produced Busting Out, and the Iraq War documentary The Corporal's Diary. She is also a juror for the News and Documentary Emmy Awards. Laurel grew up in Los Angeles and Kauai before making a home in Seattle with her husband and cat. She graduated from The Evergreen State College, where she studied film and cultural anthropology, pursuing her interest in the latter by traveling to over 100 countries. When not on the road or in the edit room, she manages a vacation rental house on a remote island in The Bahamas and is a personal dresser at Dress for Success and for her fashion-challenged filmmaker friends.

Oil & Water is the true story of two boys coming of age as they each confront one of the world’s worst toxic disasters. Hugo and David were born on opposite ends of the oil pipeline. Hugo comes to America to fight for the survival of his Cofan tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon, while David goes to Ecuador to launch the world’s first company to certify oil as “fair trade.” Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future, not just for the Cofan, but for all people around the world who are born with oil beneath their feet.