Southern Circuit Tour engages audiences with films

November 16, 2016
Southern Circuit Tour engages audiences with films

Poets and playwrights in jail, an all-female Middle Eastern car racing team and an unlikely duo road tripping across India will fill the screen in Williams Hall Auditorium when Oxford College hosts the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers.

Oxford is hosting the documentary series for its third year. The series includes six films – three each semester – during the 2016-17 academic year. The screenings are free and open to students, faculty, staff, and members of the general public. A Q&A with the filmmakers will follow each screening.

Unlike many film screenings on college campuses, the directors and often the producers attend Southern Circuit events. Students and other audience members engage in direct conversations with a diverse array of filmmakers. Questions come up about the filmmaking process and the content of the films.

“They are also able to learn about the career trajectories of the filmmakers, most of whom were not formally trained in film school but – like our students – come out of liberal arts backgrounds,” says Margaret T. (Molly) McGehee, associate professor of American Studies and Oxford’s Southern Circuit Tour faculty coordinator.

“I think the program helps foster an appreciation for films as an art form and as a powerful medium for effecting social change,” adds McGehee. “Learning about how the filmmakers produced powerful works – often on a shoestring budget with basic equipment – inspires students to think that maybe they could do this one day alongside or within whatever career they decided to pursue.”

The screenings also push students to think about what stories they want to tell or feel need to be told, says McGehee, who was instrumental in bringing this cultural resource to Oxford. 

Viewers have already seen Art of the Prank and SHU-DE! this fall. The next film, Hotel Dallas, comes to Oxford on Nov. 16, at 7:30 p.m.

Hotel Dallas tells the story of Livia Ungur, who grew up in Romania with Dallas as the only American TV show allowed. Livia immigrates to the United States where she becomes a filmmaker, and directs a movie featuring Dallas star Patrick Duffy. She then guides Duffy on a road trip across a Romanian dreamscape. Sherng-Lee Huang and Livia Ungur, directors of Hotel Dallas, will conduct an audience Q&A session following the screening.

Mango Dreams will be the next selection presented at Oxford on Feb. 8. This film follows a Hindu doctor with dementia and a Muslim driver as they form an unlikely friendship during a journey across India in an auto rickshaw. Along the way, they forge an unforgettable friendship. Director John Upchurch will be on hand for the screening.

The spring semester screenings include the March 15 showing of I Come From, a film that chronicles the experiences of six incarcerated poets and playwrights, and the April 12 showing of Speed Sisters, which follows a five-woman race car driving team as they speed their way into the Palestinian street car racing scene.

Southern Circuit takes art directly into communities, including college campuses, to bring people together to experience documentary films as a group rather than an individual.

“I have enjoyed seeing students get so excited about independent film and seeing their appreciation for the art of filmmaking grow as a result of viewing the films on tour,” McGehee says.

Audiences have seen over 300 films and have engaged filmmakers in post-screening discussions in more than 100 communities across the Southern United States. Funding for the project is provided in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

South Arts, an Atlanta non-profit whose motto is “Building a Better South Through the Arts,” was founded in 1975.

For more information, visit South Arts website or contact Molly McGehee at margaret.mcgehee@emory.edu