Southern Circuit Tour offers unique films paired with filmmaker discussions in Jackson and Cleveland

The Mississippi Film Office is partnering with the Mississippi Department of Archives and History (MDAH) and the Mississippi Humanities Council (MHC) to bring the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers to Jackson area audiences.

The series seeks to connect independent filmmakers with communities throughout the South for film screenings and conversations.

“Part of our mission is to cultivate and promote filmmaking in Mississippi,” said Film Office Director Nina Parikh. “This film series not only provides audiences the opportunity to see thought-provoking films, it also allows local filmmakers and film buffs to dialogue with talented and successful indie filmmakers. And in turn, it gives those filmmakers a window into the vibrant arts and culture of Mississippi that we and our partners champion.”

The film series is curated by SouthArts, a nonprofit regional arts organization based in Atlanta.

“Our screening partners are organizations of many different types,” said Jordan Young, director of the tour for SouthArts. “They include universities and colleges, community art centers, museums, libraries and a few art house cinemas. We operate in a lot of cities and towns that don’t necessarily have the most access to independent film. Putting the filmmaker in the room with audiences from these communities gives them an opportunity to engage with the content in a meaningful way. We’re using film as a conduit for important community conversation and to celebrate the art of filmmaking and the wonderful stories these filmmakers are telling.”

The film series will be hosted by MDAH at the Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson. The screenings are held on Sunday afternoons, when admission to the museums is free.

“When MDAH realized there was room for an ongoing film series, one of our first concerns was whether we could provide consistently high-quality movies each month,” said MDAH Director of Special Projects Chris Goodwin. “SouthArts was the perfect answer. The films focus on issues that connect to the stories we tell in the museums, and we would not be able to bring them to Jackson without all the work SouthArts does in putting together the circuits.”

The screenings also bolster MHC’s ongoing efforts to support the art of filmmaking in Mississippi.

“The Council has supported documentary filmmaking through our grant programs for as long as we have offered grants, believing such films offer unique insight into the diverse lives and experiences of Mississippians,” said MHC Assistant Director Carol Andersen. “Film is a powerful medium for examining aspects of our history and culture in a way that can engage our imaginations with visible human emotions and the faces of the people who live these experiences. Examining our history and culture is at the heart of the Council’s mission.”

The next film in the series, The Only Doctor, will be screened this Sunday, Oct. 15, at 2 p.m.

This documentary tells a contemporary story of limited access to healthcare in the rural United States, an issue that affects Mississippi as well.

“The film looks closely at the struggle of one physician in rural Georgia to keep her clinic open and continue to provide healthcare for the people of Clay County,” Goodwin said. “The story resonates because of what our state is going through, and after the movie director Matthew Hashiguchi will be in conversation with Dr. Temika Simmons, who’s with the Delta Health Alliance, about the similar challenges Mississippi faces.”

Delta and north Mississippi audiences can catch the film closer to home. It will also be screened at the Bologna Performing Arts Center at Delta State University in Cleveland at 6 p.m. Oct. 17, also followed by a discussion with the filmmakers and Dr. Simmons. The center has seen success partnering with SouthArts for the film series.

“Our former executive director spearheaded this programming, and we’ve had it here over the past five years,” said Cade Holder, Director of Marketing and Patron Services at the center. “We try to serve as the cultural hub of the Delta. We draw from a lot of counties within an hour or two driving distance.”

More films in the series current season will be screened through April at both locations. Young says that they will soon be taking submissions for films to be included in the 2024-2025 season.

“I’m going to be opening the submissions so that filmmakers have a way to directly provide all their info,” he said. “And I want to make sure that independent folks from all over have that accessibility to the program and be able to share their projects and be considered. We’ve had both filmmakers with decades of experience as well as first time and emerging filmmakers. We try to ensure that we’re also getting those voices and supporting the budding careers of folks who are sharing their stories and giving them that opportunity to share their work and meet with people in their region to support work even further.”

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The Only Doctor

2 p.m. Oct. 15 @ Two Mississippi Museums, Jackson

6 p.m. Oct. 17 @ Bologna Performing Art Center, Cleveland

Touring with the film: Director Matthew Hashiguchi and Producer Anjanette Levert

The Only Doctor tells a contemporary story of rural healthcare in the United States as it centers on Dr. Karen Kinsell, who for nearly 20 years has been the only doctor in a Southwest Georgia county. The film begins when Dr. Kinsell comes to the realization that she can no longer afford to full-time volunteer as the only doctor in rural Clay County, Georgia. But ever committed to her community, she looks to forge a partnership with a medical university in order to keep her clinic open. After several options, a possibility emerges and so does disappointment. Then the pandemic creates new challenges, but also opportunities and new decisions. With production taking place from the beginning of 2019 through 2021, what’s captured is a rural healthcare experience before, during and after one of the greatest pandemics in history. Over this time, the film turns into a David and Goliath story, featuring a small town doctor and a powerful medical university, which reveals the inequities of rural healthcare and how money, politics and convenience determines who does and does not receive medical care.

Little Satchmo

2 p.m. Nov. 5 @ Two Mississippi Museums, Jackson

6 p.m. Nov. 7 @ Bologna Performing Art Center, Cleveland

Touring with the film: Director John Alexander and Producer JC Guest

To the world, Louis Armstrong is iconic — a symbol of musical genius, unparalleled success, and unassailable character. To Sharon, he was simply Dad. Armstrong’s wholesome, non-threatening image preserved his singular career as a black performer with unfettered access to a white man’s world. Yet he was more than a caricature. In private, he held tightly to the things he loved. Perhaps closest to his heart was a child whom he hid from the world: a daughter sworn to a life of secrecy until now.

Butterfly in the Sky

LeVar Burton in Butterfly in the Sky.

2 p.m. Feb. 11, 2024 @ Two Mississippi Museums, Jackson

6 p.m. Feb. 13, 2024 @ Bologna Performing Art Center, Cleveland

Touring with the film: Co-Director and Editor Bradford Thomason and Executive Producer and Supervising Editor Dava Whisenant

Butterfly in the Sky tells the story of the beloved PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow,” its iconic host LeVar Burton, and the challenges its creators faced in cultivating a love of reading through television.

Master of Light

2 p.m. March 10, 2024 @ Two Mississippi Museums, Jackson

6 p.m. March 4, 2024 @ Bologna Performing Art Center, Cleveland

Touring with the film: Documentary subject George Anthony Morton

The Winner of the SXSW 2022 Documentary Feature Grand Jury Award, Master of Light highlights George Anthony Morton, a classical painter who spent ten years in federal prison for dealing drugs. While incarcerated, he nurtured his craft and unique artistic ability. Since his release, he is doing everything he can to defy society’s unlevel playing field and tackle the white-dominant art world. George faces his demons when he returns to his hometown, Kansas City. He does so by painting his family members. Diving deeper into his soul with every brushstroke, George shines a bright light on racial injustice; on the intergenerational trauma that, inescapably, comes with it. What emerges is a deeply personal tour de force, and a powerful, positive portrait of an artist.

Hollow Tree

2 p.m. April 14, 2024 @ Two Mississippi Museums, Jackson

6 p.m. April 16, 2024 @ Bologna Performing Art Center, Cleveland

Touring with the film: Director Kira Akerman and Producer Monique Walton

Hollow Tree follows three teenagers coming of age in their sinking homeland of Louisiana. For the first time, they notice the Mississippi River’s engineering, stumps of cypress trees, and billowing smokestacks. Their different perspectives — as Indigenous, white, and Angolan young women — shape their story of the climate crisis.