Beautiful spring weather awaited festival-goers in Columbia, South Carolina, for #IndieGrits2019. This was my first time at Indie Grits and—wow—what an inspiring weekend of film and community! Most screenings took place in the heart of downtown, at the Nickelodeon Theatre (the Nick). Both projects of the Columbia Film Society, the Nick is the creative nexus for Indie Grits and festival director Seth Gadsden.
This year’s festival showcased an impressive lineup of Southern documentaries, many of which I wrote about in my Oxford Film Festival Dispatch. Also programmed were three films from REEL SOUTH’s newest season: Gimme a Faith, Santuario and Lumpkin, GA. Other marquee Southern feature films were Jaddoland, This Taco Truck Kills Fascists and The Unafraid. But I actually spent most of my screening time catching an amazing array of short films. Read on for a look at what stood out!
REEL SOUTH Short Award
There were so many incredible short films at Indie Grits that we couldn’t choose just one! We can’t wait to share these two films with you in the very near future:
The Derby by Remington Smith
Uniontown by Fraser Johnson
Rural Project Premiere
Indie Grits hosted over a dozen filmmaking fellows as part of a new Rural Project. Dixie’s Last Stand by Kelly Creedon follows the battle over a confederate flag in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Invisible Hands, by Yulian Martinez-Escobar, documents migrant tomato farmers in rural South Carolina. And Some Million Miles chronicles meth addiction atop Sand Mountain in rural Alabama. Check out the full list of Indie Grits Rural Projects here.
This shorts block included narrative and documentary films, all eclectic visions of Southern strivers and thrivers. The Derby (REEL SOUTH Short Award winner), by Remington Smith, takes us behind the scenes of America’s most famous horse race. To West End, With Love, by Melissa Alexander, is a black-and-white love letter to a changing Atlanta neighborhood. And Nashedonia is a Super 8mm look at Nashville through the eyes of a traveler. See the entire lineup here.
This energetic shorts block featured courageous Southerners working for change. The Arrest, by Kira Akerman, is the riveting story of one young woman’s stint in the Louisiana penal system after a wrongful arrest. Come & Take It, by PJ Raval, documents an absurdist protest against open carry gun laws in Texas classrooms that goes viral. See the entire lineup here.
I love works-in-progress screenings, which provide a wonderful glimpse into the creative process of making a documentary film. Grits in Progress showcased four projects from around the South in various stages of production, including The Last Doctor, by Matthew Hashguchi, about healthcare in rural Clay County, Georgia. And our friends at the Southern Documentary Fund hosted a Fresh Docs screening of When Porgy Came Home, by Lauren Waring Douglas, about the long overdue 1970 debut of Porgy and Bess in Charleston, South Carolina. At both screenings the audiences offered up constructive feedback that the filmmakers can take back to the edit suite.
We’ll be counting the days till #IndieGrits2020.