2019-2020 Southern Circuit Screening Partners & Films Announced

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Atlanta, GA - South Arts is pleased to announce the 24 Screening Partners, and 24 films and filmmaking teams selected for the 2019-20 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. Filmmakers from each film will venture throughout the region on two-week tours between September 2019 and April 2020, conducting screenings of their work and meeting with communities to discuss their films.

Screening Partners

  • Allied Arts - Milledgeville, GA
  • A/Perture - Winston-Salem, NC
  • Arts Council of Central Louisiana - Alexandria, LA
  • Broward College - Fort Lauderdale, FL
  • City of Hapeville - Hapeville, GA
  • Clayton Center for the Arts/Maryville College - Maryville, TN
  • Delta State University/Bologna Performing Arts Center - Cleveland, MS
  • East Tennessee State University/Mary B. Martin School of the Arts - Johnson City, TN
  • Fuquay-Varina Arts Center - Fuquay-Varina, NC
  • Gateway Regional Arts Center - Mt. Sterling, KY
  • Georgia Southern University - Statesboro, GA
  • Global Education Center - Nashville, TN
  • Jacksonville State University - Jacksonville, AL
  • North Central Louisiana Arts Council - Ruston, LA
  • Oxford College of Emory University - Oxford, GA
  • Presbyterian College - Clinton, SC
  • South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center - Cutler Bay, FL
  • Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center - Bowling Green, KY
  • Tropic Cinema/Key West Film Society - Key West, FL
  • Union College - Barbourville, KY
  • Union County Community Arts Council/Wingate University - Wingate, NC
  • University of Pikeville - Pikeville, KY
  • University of West Georgia/Townsend Center - Carrollton, GA
  • Wallace State Community College - Hanceville, AL

Films & Filmmakers on Tour

  • Bill Traylor, Chasing Ghosts - Jeffrey Wolf, Director
  • The City that Sold America - Mary Warlick, Executive Producer
  • Community First, a Home for the Homeless - Layton Blaylock, Director
  • Float - Phil Kibbe, Director
  • Gay Chorus Deep South - David Charles Rodrigues, Director; Dr. Timothy Seeling, San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, Artistic Director
  • The Infiltrators - Darren Dean, Producer
  • It's Time - Jeff Sarokin, Writer; Kindra Predmore, Co-Producer
  • Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window - Andrew Hevia, Director
  • Life Without Basketball - Jon Mercer & Tim O'Donnell, Directors
  • Light from Light - Paul Harrill, Director
  • Little Miss Westie - Joy E. Reed, Co-Director & Editor
  • Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary - Lindsey Seavert & Ben Garvin, Directors
  • Marjoun & the Flying Headscarf - Susan Youssef, Director; Hira Jafri, Producer
  • Mossville: When Great Trees Fall - Alexander Glustrom, Director; Daniel Bennett, Producer; Katie Mathews, Producer; Michelle Lanier, Executive Producer; Catherine Rierson, Producer
  • Mr. Handy's Blues - Joanne Fish, Director
  • Picture Character - Martha Shane & Ian Cheney, Directors
  • Same God - Linda Midgett, Director
  • The Short History of the Long Road - Ani Simon-Kennedy, Director
  • We Believe in Dinosaurs - Clayton Brown, Director/Producer
  • Well-Groomed - Rebecca Stern, Director
  • While I Breathe, I Hope - Emily Harrold, Director
  • Who Will Write Our History - Roberta Grossman, Director
  • Wrestle - Suzannah Herbert & Lauren Belfer, Directors
  • You Gave Me a Song: The Life & Music of Alice Gerrard - Kenny Dalsheimer, Director

"This season's films and filmmakers represent the voices and conversations occurring throughout our region and nation," said Teresa Hollingsworth, program director. "They resonate with audiences and lead to impactful, sometimes challenging discussions of topics relevant to their communities."

The Screening Partners convened in Atlanta for an annual gathering to curate films for the upcoming season. "We always say it's like a fantasy football draft," laughed Hollingsworth. "The Screening Partners know their communities very well and have spent countless hours reviewing all of the potential films under consideration."

Filmmakers were invited to submit their work for consideration in early 2019. Recently completed animation, documentaries, experimental, fiction films, and shorts were considered.

From September through April, each screening partner presents the six films and filmmakers chosen by their circuit. Beyond a screening of the film, the filmmakers are made available to the local community for workshops, class visits, and discussions. The filmmakers also conduct a Q&A with audiences following the film screening to discuss the film's subject and the filmmaking process.

The Southern Circuit is made possible through partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. A full listing of all screening dates, times, and locations will be posted later this summer on our website, as well as each Screening Partner's website.

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was 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 support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern Communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value, and power of the arts in the South.

About the Films

Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts
Touring with the film: Jeffrey Wolf, Director


Bill Traylor: Chasing Ghosts is a feature documentary film exploring the life of a unique American artist, a man with a remarkable and unlikely biography. Bill Traylor was born into slavery in 1853 on a cotton plantation in rural Alabama. Using historical and cultural context, the film brings the spirit and mystery of Traylor’s incomparable art to life. After the Civil War, Traylor continued to farm the land until the late 1920s. Aging and alone, he moved to Montgomery and worked odd jobs in the thriving segregated black neighborhood. A decade later, in his late 80s, Traylor became homeless and started to draw and paint, both memories from plantation days and scenes of a radically changing urban culture. Traylor devised his own visual language to record the stories of his life, translating an oral culture into something original, powerful, and culturally rooted. He made over a thousand drawings and paintings between 1939–1942. Traylor witnessed profound social and political change during his life spanning slavery, Reconstruction, Jim Crow segregation, and the Great Migration. Tap dance, evocative period music, and spoken word are used in dramatic and surprising ways in the film, balanced with archival photographs and footage, insightful perspectives from Traylor family members, and Traylor’s striking drawings and paintings, to reveal one of America’s most prominent artists to a wide audience.

The City that Sold America
Touring with the film: Mary Warlick, Executive Director


At the threshold of the 20th century, a melting pot of adventurous immigrants, creative mavericks, and freedom-seeking African Americans shaped consumerism as we now know it. The new documentary The City That Sold America reveals, with intriguing insights and wistful nostalgia, the confluence of Chicago’s creative talent, business savvy, grit, and determination that changed the country and our relationship with popular culture. For the first time, the film explores how Chicago introduced groundbreaking, behavior-changing ideas like fast food chains, orange juice, soap operas, African-American beauty products, late night talk shows, toothpaste, and Kleenex. The City That Sold America uncovers the origins of beloved icons like Tony the Tiger, the Jolly Green Giant, Charlie Tuna, the Budweiser’s Clydesdales, and the Pillsbury Dough Boy—all of whom have made lasting impressions upon generations of Americans. As print and broadcast media evolved, Chicago’s centralized location and Midwestern approach helped expand the reach of advertisers, giving rise to the enduring practices of product placement, spokespeople, market research, and conscious branding.

Community First, A Home for the Homeless
Touring with the film: Layton Blaylock, Director


Community First, A Home for the Homeless is a documentary about Community First! Village, a unique residential development that is transforming the lives of homeless people through the power of community. As explained by founder Alan Graham, “It is specifically designed to lift the chronically homeless off the streets of the Austin area offering them a place to call home, helping them to heal from the ravages of life on the streets allowing them to rediscover a purpose in their lives.” Community First! Village is not a homeless shelter. Everybody pays rent; there are no exceptions. Residents are given the opportunity to earn a dignified income working at the Village in a variety of areas such as the Genesis Gardens, the Community Cinema (a beautiful amphitheater built by Alamo Drafthouse), the Community Inn, or in the maintenance department. With open access to an “art house” and blacksmith shop, residents have the opportunity to produce handmade goods that are sold in the Community Market. Community First, A Home for the Homeless explores the heartbreaking events that cause homelessness, and the heartwarming stories of being welcomed into a nurturing environment where dignity and self-worth are restored.

Touring with the film: Phil Kibbe, Director


Winning a championship is everything in popular professional sports, as it often brings athletes fortune and fame. However, the sport at the heart of Float is not exactly pro, nor is it well known. This intriguing documentary, with its stunning cinematography, chronicles the small but dedicated scene of competitive model aviation. While the modern world is obsessed with attention and speed, these devoted, unknown challengers like to take things slow. Patience is their true talent, coupled with unwavering passion. After all, they do not make a dime competing, but instead deplete their savings to buy supplies. Call it obsession, but there is something refreshing about their thankless allegiance to the sport. They spend countless hours designing and constructing their complex planes (F1Ds, to be more technical), which could easily pass for art. The detailing is as remarkable as their impressive ability to stay airborne for long periods. To see them all soaring at once is truly a remarkable sight. At first glance, Float may seem like a niche documentary for model plane enthusiasts. However, everyone can learn from the graceful simplicity, loyal camaraderie, and undying devotion these competitors exhibit.

Gay Chorus Deep South
Touring with the film: David Charles Rodrigues, Director and Dr. Timothy Seelig, Artistic Director of San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus


Led by Gay Chorus Conductor Dr. Tim Seelig and joined by The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, the tour brings a message of music, love, and acceptance to communities and individuals confronting intolerance. Over 300 singers traveled from Mississippi to Tennessee through the Carolinas and over the bridge in Selma. They performed in churches, community centers, and concert halls in hopes of uniting us in a time of difference. The journey also challenges Tim and other Chorus members who fled the South to confront their own fears, pain, and prejudices on a journey towards reconciliation. The conversations and connections that emerge offer a glimpse of a less divided America, where the things that divide us—faith, politics, sexual identity—are set aside by the soaring power of music, humanity, and a little drag.

The Infiltrators
Touring with the film: Darren Dean, Producer


The Infiltrators is a docu-thriller that tells the true story of young immigrants who get arrested by Border Patrol, and put in a shadowy for-profit detention center—on purpose. Marco and Viri are members of the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, a group of radical Dreamers who are on a mission to stop deportations. Moreover, the best place to stop deportations, they believe, is in detention. However, when Marco and Viri try to pull off their heist—a kind of ‘prison break’ in reverse—things do not go according to plan. By weaving together documentary footage of the real infiltrators with scripted re-enactments of the events inside the detention center, The Infiltrators tells this incredible true story in a boundary-crossing new cinematic language. The Hollywood Reporter said of the multiple award-winning film “rather than feeling like homework, watching it is a thrill.”

It’s Time
Touring with the film: Jeff Sarokin, Writer and Kindra Predmore, Co-Producer


Based on true events, It’s Time is the story of Ole Miss Rebels defensive back Chucky Mullins. In 1989, making a tackle against Vanderbilt University’s fullback Brad Gaines, Mullins shattered multiple vertebrae leaving him immediately paralyzed. While the University of Mississippi and its football faithful rallied around Mullins, he and Gaines developed an unlikely relationship born of faith and friendship in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window
Touring with the film: Andrew Hevia, Director


In Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window, what starts as a traditional documentary about the Hong Kong art world becomes an intimate and wryly comedic study of loneliness and alienation within an increasingly globalized world. Upon realizing that the film he thought he would make is not going to happen, filmmaker Andrew Hevia turns the camera on himself while continuing to engage with Hong Kong’s art community. Shot in a ‘first person’ style, Leave the Bus Through the Broken Window playfully tweaks the conventions of the introspective genre of auto-fiction, using deadpan humor to explore romance, personal trauma, and culture shock like no other film before it.

Life Without Basketball
Touring with the film: Jon Mercer and Tim O’Donnell, Directors


Life Without Basketball takes us inside the world of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir. As a record-breaking high school star and college athlete, her life as a basketball player had structure and a clear forward path. Bilqis was raised to follow the Quran and has been wearing hijab since the age of fourteen. She extends this practice onto the court as well, covering arms and legs underneath her uniform and wearing a tightly wrapped headscarf. When she began her college career in 2009, she became the first NCAA Division I athlete to do so. Her story attracted the attention of national media and later, the White House. Having just come off the best year of her college career at Indiana State, Bilqis began pursuing her goal to play professionally. At this point she was informed that FIBA (the international governing body for the sport) had a rule banning headscarves from international competition. The film explores the complex world of being Muslim in America, where family tradition and public perception are often at odds. The film examines layers of identity, radical change, and common nostalgia. After years of protest, FIBA revised their rule in May of 2017 and Bilqis became eligible to return to the court. Before a speaking engagement at the Global Forum for Sport and Human Rights in Geneva, Bilqis finally obtains an in-person meeting with the organization. Despite their lack of apology and willingness to offer support, she decides to pursue the game again on her own.

Light From Light
Touring with the film: Paul Harrill, Director


Single mom Sheila moonlights as a paranormal investigator while working at a car-rental service counter and raising her teenage son, Owen. After an appearance on a local radio program, Richard, a recent widower who thinks his departed wife may be ‘haunting’ East Tennessee farmhouse, contacts her. Agreeing to help. Shelia brings along Owen and his classmate Lucy in hopes of understanding the mystery.

Little Miss Westie
Touring with the film: Joy E. Reed, Director


Little Miss Westie follows the life of two siblings: Luca McCarthy (a 14-year-old transgender boy) and his little sister Ren (an 11-year-old transgender girl). Before transitioning, Luca had participated in the Lil’ Miss Westie beauty pageant, which is a local rite of passage in the small town of West Haven, Connecticut. Now, it is Ren’s turn; in the first year following her transition, she will compete in the pageant with Luca’s expert guidance. The documentary chronicles Luca’s and Ren’s lives for a year as they navigate the struggles of school, puberty, and transitioning during the Trump Era.

Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary
Touring with the film: Lindsey Seavert and Ben Garvin, Directors


With unprecedented access over the course of a year, Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary follows the determination of a charismatic north Minneapolis school principal, Mauri Melander Friestleben, as she sets out to undo history. Not only does Minnesota have the largest achievement gap between black and white children in the United States, Friestleben faced another seemingly impossible obstacle: Lucy Laney has sat at the bottom of the state’s list of underperforming schools for two decades. Under Friestleben’s leadership, standardized test scores from most black students began rising for the first time, but when the school encounters a heartbreaking setback, Friestleben confronts the true measure of student success at Lucy Laney. Love Them First is a story of inspiration, heartbreak, perseverance, and the power of love.

Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf
Touring with the film: Susan Youssef, Director and Hira Jafri, Producer


A teenager in Arkansas searches for identity in the headscarf and a motorcycle in the aftermath of her father’s imprisonment. Set in 2006, the film explores the results of Arab and Muslim American detainment for “guilt by association.” The film links the civil rights struggle of Arab and Muslim Africans with that of African Americans through Marjoun’s attendance of Little Rock’s Central High School, weaving her story into the lineage of the Little Rock Nine. How can Marjoun break free and find her own identity while struggling for acceptance?

Mossville: When Great Trees Fall
Touring with the film: Alexander Glustrom, Director; Daniel Bennett, Producer; Katie Mathews, Producer; Michelle Lanier, Executive Producer; Catherine Rierson, Producer


Mossville, Louisiana is a shadow of its former self—a community rich in natural resources and history, founded by formerly enslaved people and free people of color—where neighbors lived in harmony, insulated from the horrors of Jim Crow. Today, Mossville no longer resembles the town it once was. Surrounded by 14 petrochemical plants, Mossville is the future site of apartheid-born South African-based chemical company Sasol’s newest plant—proposed as a $21.2 billion project and the largest in the western hemisphere. The community struggles to let go of their ancestral home, and at the center of it all is a man named Stacey Ryan, a lifelong resident. In the past ten years, Stacey has lost much of his family to cancer and seen the neighborhood he grew up in demolished to make way for Sasol’s new multi-billion dollar project. He experiences these changes from the view of his parent’s home, a FEMA trailer smack in the middle of where the new Sasol facility is being built—and he refuses to leave. Having promised his dying parents to fight the sprawling chemical companies, Stacey struggles to keep his word as his power, water, and sewage are cut off, and his health continues to decline from ongoing chemical exposure. As Sasol encroaches on citizens’ property with buyout offers, Stacey and other community members have to decide whether to exist in a chemical war zone, or abandon land that has been in their families for generations.

Mr. Handy’s Blues
Touring with the film: Joanne Fish, Director


William Christopher Handy is a larger-than-life figure in American music history. For more than 100 years, he has been revered internationally as ‘The Father of the Blues’ but his story has never been told in documentary form until now. Mr. Handy’s Blues is an against-all-odds tale of family conflict, racial tensions, and redemption. Born the son of a preacher in post-Civil War Alabama, Handy rose to fame as one of the most beloved and prolific composers and music publishers of the 20th century. Ten years in the making, the film includes never-before-seen footage and photographs along with extensive rare audio and video recordings of W.C. Handy himself. Iconic Blues legends Taj Mahal and Bobby Rush appear in the film, which also features performances of Handy’s iconic songs (“St. Louis Blues”, “The Memphis Blues”, “Beale St. Blues”, and others).

Picture Character
Touring with the film: Martha Shane and Ian Cheney, Directors


The rapid rise of emoji (Japanese for “picture character”) is a global phenomenon without precedent. Their widespread use and ability to convey complex messages have not only cemented emoji’s place as an emerging digital language , but prompted difficult questions about the creation of a language and digital communication’s fraught ties to identity and inclusion. In Picture Character, directors Martha Shane and Ian Cheney lead viewers on a deep dive into the ever evolving world of picture characters, from their humble beginnings in Japan to mobile keyboards the world over. They shed fresh light on the private consortium that approves new emoji offerings and the individuals fighting to make the language more representative of its billions of users.

Same God
Touring with the film: Linda Midgett, Director


In December 2015, the political rhetoric against Muslims was escalating. Dr. Larycia Hawkins, an African American political science professor at Wheaton College—a prestigious evangelical school outside of Chicago—wanted to show support for Muslim women. She posted a photo of herself in a hijab on Facebook. “I love my Muslim neighbor,” she wrote, “because s/he deserves love by virtue of her/his human dignity. … [W]e worship the Same God.” Within days, Wheaton’s Provost suspended Dr. Hawkins, eventually moving to terminate her tenure. Were the school’s actions a move to protect its Christian theological purity, as it insisted? Or was it, as some suggested, the result of racism and Islamophobia? Same God, directed by Wheaton alumna Linda Midgett, explores the polarization-taking place within the evangelical community over issues of race, Islam, religious freedom … and Donald Trump.

The Short History of the Long Road
Touring with the film: Ani Simon-Kennedy, Director


For teenage Nola (Sabrina Carpenter), home is the open road. Her self-reliant father (Steven Ogg) is her anchor in a life of transience. The pair crisscross the United States in a lovingly refurbished RV, making ends meet through odd jobs while relishing their independence. A shocking rupture, though, casts Nola out on her own. She makes her way to Albuquerque, New Mexico in search of a mother she never knew, only for her motorhome to break down unexpectedly. However, after forging a bond with an auto body shop owner (Danny Trejo), Nola senses the possibility of mooring her ship in this storm.

We Believe In Dinosaurs
Touring with the film: Clayton Brown, Director/Producer


Amid protests and controversy, young-earth creationists build an enormous, $120 million “life-size” Noah’s Ark in rural Kentucky with the specific aim of proving that the Bible is scientifically and historically accurate. We Believe In Dinosaurs follows the building of the Ark from blueprints to Opening Day through the eyes of three Kentuckians. Doug, a gifted artist who creates lifelike animals for the Ark; Dan, a geologist and impassioned pro-science activist who blows the whistle on the Ark’s discriminatory hiring practices; and David, a young former creationist who mowed lawns to raise money for creationist causes in his youth. Shot over the course of four years, We Believe In Dinosaurs follows the Ark from blueprints to opening to aftermath and tells the story of the troubling relationship between science and religion in the United States.

Well Groomed
Touring with the film: Rebecca Stern, Director


Competitive creative dog grooming is the most colorful competition in America. Well Groomed captures the creative process and traveling with four women at the center of the competition as they enrich their lives through this fascinating intersection of art and animals. Following champion groomers and their gorgeous, vibrant dogs through a year in the life on the Technicolor competition circuit, Well Groomedexplores an America not often portrayed in cinema. From South Carolina to California, New York to Arkansas, the film follows dog groomers from their homes to large-scale dog grooming competitions and showrooms where their communities meet, discuss, and compete with Technicolor exuberance. Well Groomed is a revealing look at pets, families, friendships, and the glory of creativity through a bright prism of color.

While I Breathe, I Hope
Touring with the film: Emily Harrold, Director


What does it means to be young, black, and a Democrat in the American South? While I Breathe, I Hope follows South Carolina politician Bakari Sellers as he runs to become the first African American candidate elected statewide in over a century. The film begins by following Sellers as he makes his 2014 bid for Lieutenant Governor, through the Charleston Shootings, and during the removal of the Confederate flag in 2015. Through his experiences, this timely film offers audiences a window into the legacy of race in politics in the United States today.

Who Will Write Our History
Touring with the film: Roberta Grossman, Director


In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars, and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Written, produced, and directed by Roberta Grossman and executive produced by Nancy Spielberg, Who Will Write Our History mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage and stunning dramatizations to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. They defied their murderous enemy with the ultimate weapon—the truth—and risked everything so that their archive would survive the war, even if they did not.

Touring with the film: Suzannah Herbert, Director and Lauren Belfar, Co-Director


Hoop Dreams goes to the mat in this intimate, coming-of-age documentary about four members of a high-school wrestling team at Huntsville’s J.O. Johnson High School, a longstanding entry on Alabama’s list of failing schools. Coached by teacher Chris Scribner, teammates Jailen, Jamario, Teague, and Jaquan each face challenges far beyond a shot at the State Championship: splintered family lives, drug use, teenage pregnancy, mental health struggles, and run-ins with the law threaten to derail their success on the mat and lock any doors that could otherwise open. Tough-love coach Scribner is not off the hook, either; he must come to terms with his own past conflicts while unwittingly wading into the complexities of race, class, and privilege in the South. Director Suzannah Herbert and co-director Lauren Belfer captured over 650 hours of footage during the course of the team’s final season to create this closely observed, deeply affecting depiction of growing up disadvantaged in America today.

You Gave Me a Song: The Life and Music of Alice Gerrard

Touring with the film: Kenny Dalsheimer, Director

You Gave Me a Song offers an intimate portrait of old-time music pioneer Alice Gerrard and her remarkable, unpredictable journey creating and preserving traditional music. The film follows 84-year-old Gerrard over several years, weaving together verité footage of living room rehearsals, recording sessions, songwriting, book project work, and performances with archival photos, rare field recordings, and animation. Much of the film is told in Alice’s voice and via interviews with musical collaborators and family members who share the story of Alice and others chasing that high lonesome sound. This is one woman’s story of being traditional, never conventional. This is a film about getting older, but never giving up.