Southern Film Program
South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers
Plans are underway for the Fall 2014-2015 South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. PC bids adieu to Professor Molly McGehee, organizer for PC’s participation. The new PC contact person is Dr. Terry Barr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read about filmmaker’s Jyllian Gunther’s post about her experience at PC during Spring 2014.
Past Events: 2013-14
SEPTEMBER 12th: How to Make Movies at Home with filmmaker Morgan Nichols
Jonah and his band of local DIY filmmakers are threatened when a Hollywood team comes to sign Hillport, Maine, as a location for a big TV show. Jonah goes to war with Hollywood, but her real problems might be with her best friend, who has designs on the Hollywood producer’s girlfriend. With practical lessons on cinema craft woven throughout, “How to Make Movies at Home” is a wild, infectious celebration of the DIY world and a proud instigator for a new value system in the world of movies. Morgan Nichols’ first feature, “Jesus Freak,” premiered at The Los Angeles Film Festival in 2003, and won the Milagro Award – Best Southwest Film at the Santa Fe Film Festival. “The Little Death” followed in 2006, premiering as the closing night gala film at the Atlanta Film Festival and going on to garner awards for best actor, best actress, best screenplay and best cinematography as it traveled the festival circuit. In addition to his large body of work as a true independent filmmaker, Nichols has worked for various subsidiaries of Viacom, Warner Bros. and Disney. He holds an MFA in Cinema from The University of Southern California and a BA in Theater Arts from Brandeis University.
In 1968 a young college drop-out named George A. Romero directed a low budget horror film that shocked the world and became an icon of the counterculture – “Night of the Living Dead.” It spawned a billion-dollar zombie industry that continues to this day. “Birth of the Living Dead,” a new documentary, shows how Romero gathered an unlikely team of Pittsburghers — policemen, iron workers, teachers, ad-men, housewives and a roller-rink owner — to shoot, with a revolutionary guerrilla, run-and-gun style, his seminal film. During that process Romero and his team created an entirely new and horribly chilling monster – one that was undead and feasted upon human flesh. This documentary also immerses audiences into the singular time in which “Night” was shot. Archival footage of the horrors of Vietnam and racial violence at home combined with iconic music from the 60s invites viewers to experience how Romero’s tumultuous film reflected this period in American history. “Birth of the Living Dead” shows us how this young filmmaker created a world-renowned horror film that was also a profound insight into how our society really works.
NOVEMBER 14th: GMO OMG with filmmaker Jeremy Seifert
“GMO OMG” tells the story of a father’s discovery of GMOs through the symbolic act of poor Haitian farmers burning seeds in defiance of Monsanto’s gift of 475 tons of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti after the earthquake of 2010. After a journey to Haiti to learn why hungry farmers would burn seeds, the real awakening of what has happened to our food in the U.S., what we are feeding our families, and what is at stake for the global food supply unfolds in a trip across the United States and other countries in search of answers. Are we at a tipping point? Is it time to take back our food? The encroaching darkness of unknown health and environmental risks, seed take-over, chemical toxins, and food monopoly meets with the light of a growing resistance of organic farmers, concerned citizens, and a burgeoning movement to take back what we have lost. In 2010, Jeremy completed his debut film, “DIVE!, Living Off America’s Waste.” Initially made with a $200 budget, a borrowed camera and a lot of heart, “DIVE!” went on to win 22 film festivals worldwide. In 2010, Jeremy began the production company, Compeller Pictures. He is now a filmmaker and activist, traveling the country and speaking on humanitarian and environmental issues.
FEBRUARY 6th: The Iran Job with filmmakers Till Schauder and Sara Nodjoumi
“The Iran Job” follows American basketball player Kevin Sheppard as he accepts a job to play in one of the world’s most feared countries: Iran. With tensions running high between Iran and the West, Kevin tries to separate sports from politics, only to find that politics is impossible to escape in Iran. Along the way he forms an unlikely alliance with three outspoken Iranian women. Thanks to these women, his apartment turns into an oasis of free speech, where they discuss everything from politics to religion to gender roles. Kevin’s season in Iran culminates in something much bigger than basketball: the uprising and subsequent suppression of Iran’s reformist Green Movement – a powerful prelude to the currently unfolding Arab Spring.
In the fall of 2008, husband-and-wife-filmmakers Till Schauder and Sara Nodjoumi had a Skype call with Kevin Sheppard, a flashy point-guard about to start a basketball contract in the Iranian Super League. He was so entertaining that they decided to start filming. Schauder filmed Kevin in Iran over several visits, until on his last trip he was informed that he had been placed on a “black list” and sent back to New York. Till Schauder is a graduate of the University of Television and Film in Munich. He teaches film classes at NYU and has been a guest lecturer at various other campuses. He has also been invited to serve on film festival juries and panels including the Munich International Film Festival, and the Tribeca Film Festival. Sara Nodjoumi is a film producer and programmer. She has co-produced and directed a series of documentaries about the Iranian community in America. In 2009, Nodjoumi launched and programmed the first children’s film series at Tribeca Cinemas.
MARCH 20th: Finding Hillywood with filmmaker Leah Warshawski
In Hillywood (the Rwanda film industry’s name for the country’s rolling hills) there is a blossoming film community. As Rwanda is still healing from the wounds of a cultural genocide almost 20 years ago, cinema has become a way for artists to express themselves and create cultural discussion. “Finding Hillywood” efficiently introduces the major players who set the beginning of the industry in motion. Eric Kabera founded the Kwetu Film Institute, directed the first Rwandan feature, and created the Rwanda Film Festival. Ayuub Kasasa Mago is a renaissance man within the industry, equally adept at directing, acting, scouting, or “fixing” just about anything a production might need. While it is easy to see that Eric is the heart of the industry, as the film continues Ayuub comes to represent its soul with his all-encompassing passion. Seattle filmmakers Leah Warshawski and Chris Towey have created a stirring documentary that functions as a Rwandan history lesson but also reveals the power of media as a catalyst for cultural healing. The film’s final act takes a breathtaking final turn as Hillywood connects the people of Rwanda with the goosebumps of seeing their culture represented on the biggest screen available.
APRIL 10th: The New Public with filmmaker Jyllian Gunter
In 2006, a former DJ and point-guard turned first-time principal Dr. James O’Brien opened a small public high school in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, where a third of the residents live below the poverty line and the graduation rate is 40%. With infectious optimism, O’Brien and his staff of eight undertake a new and unconventional approach––emphasizing strong individual support and arts-based nontraditional instruction. Initially, the buzz from the community was that this was a dream come true. But conflicts arise when old realities surfaced. Filmed over four years, “The New Public” goes in and out of the classroom to follow the journey of students, parents and educators striving to reconcile idealism with reality and make a difference in the futures of young people whose lives are stark representations of our country’s education and opportunity gaps. Through the prism of one inner-city school, we witness complexities faced by urban public schools and communities everywhere.
Jyllian Gunter is an Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and director. Her critically acclaimed first documentary, “Pullout,” was an official selection at numerous festivals. She won an Emmy for the PBS educational PSA series, “One Way.” For NPR’s “This American Life,” she was reporter/co-producer on the episode ‘Kid Politics.’ She has worked for the past 15 years as a freelance producer/writer for WEtv, AMC, IFC Nickelodeon, Oxygen, The N, and more.
The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. South Arts is a nonprofit regional arts organization founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. www.southarts.org