The 2021 South Summit, presented by the New Orleans Film Society March 3-4, is a convening of local, regional, and national media makers, arts funders, and institutional stakeholders, with the intent of seeding conversations and actions around creating, resourcing, and amplifying film and media content that shapes how the U.S. sees the South and how the South sees itself. This field-building summit provides an opportunity to discuss critical issues facing both artists and institutions working outside the focus of financial and media industry concentrated in New York and Los Angeles –– including how we create, navigate and share power and resources, and build a stronger Southern film community to amplify Southern stories.





The 2021 South Summit is the third iteration, following 2018’s focus on envisioning what it means for Southern filmmaking to thrive, and 2019’s focus on contextualizing and curating film at the intersection of social justice and Southern identity for the cinema, gallery, and museum space.

This year’s event extends the conversation to feature sessions examining how we share power, build mutually beneficial relationships in our region, and mobilize and develop creative leadership and dynamic storytelling within broader power dynamics in film and media that tend to center power on the East and West coast, and with those who benefit from socioeconomic power.

Click to Read South Summit 2021 Essays

South Summit 2021 will offer two keynote speeches (an opening and closing), four panel discussions, two breakout sessions, and two spoken word performances in addition to four commissioned essays that will be released concurrently with the summit by Southern artists Adam Forrester, Lee Laa Ray Guillory, Michelle Lanier, and Monique Michelle Verdin. South Summit 2021 will begin with a keynote speech by Alabama-based filmmaker Bo Mcguire on lessons he learned from his Alabama-roots that he employed while making his first feature, Socks on Fire, winner of the jury award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. Chaedria LaBouvier’s keynote speech on “How to Live with Your Dead” will end the summit on March 4th. See the full schedule and panel registration links below. See the full schedule on the left menu tab.

New Orleans Film Society organized its inaugural South Summit in 2018, with the goal of convening just a small portion of the robust brain-trust that gathers at our flagship event, the New Orleans Film Festival. Since its inception, more than 100 national, regional, and local media stakeholders have participated in the convening.

Through the Summit, we endeavor to collectively envision what it means for Southern filmmaking to thrive. The South Summit is designed to spark collaborative ideation among artists and institutional leaders, expand networks, and spotlight strong work being done across the region by Southern artists.

At the summit, we hear directly from filmmakers and thought leaders whose work inspires us to imagine new possibilities for a Southern identity and the nation’s understanding of our region, and map the challenges and opportunities unique to our region. Topics explored at the South summit include: accountable curation in the south, countering extractive storytelling, and the challenges, needs and strengths/assets of Southern artists.

We hope that the resulting documents will be impactful for organizations who wish to better understand and resource the Southern film community–– it was created to be shared & to instigate sharing, and we look forward to your thoughts!

Click here to read the 2019 South Summit Report Click here to read the 2018 South Summit Report

Additional Resources

In an effort to broaden the dialogue to include many important voices who could not be in the room, New Orleans Film Society, in 2018 NOFF also surveyed 100 filmmakers from 12 Southern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia. 22 industry representatives also completed the survey. View the survey results in full here

For a list of funds, programs, and other resources specifically designed for Southern filmmakers and addressed during the South Summit, visit:

We deeply appreciate the generosity of spirit with which our participants reflected and visioned with us as part of the South Summit. We look forward to continuing and deepening this conversation in partnership with other festivals and organizations, and at the New Orleans Film Festival to come.

South Summit received critical support from JustFilms, which is part of the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program, and is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.





The South Summit is free and open to the public to attend. The Zoom link will remain the same throughout the conference. During breaks between sessions, we’ll be playing Southern tunes. You may either register for the full two-day Summit here, or for individual events below (tip: go this route if you’d like to see the South Summit session-by-session on your Google calendar). You will receive an order confirmation from Eventbrite (or multiple, should you choose to register only for select events). On the day of South Summit, you can click “view the event” from your confirmation email to be directed to the Zoom link to join us.

DAY 1 – MARCH 3, 2021 – SCHEDULE

11:00 – 11:15 AM – Welcome Remarks & Land Acknowledgement
Speakers: Fallon Young, Clint Bowie, Zandashé Brown, and Kaila Pulliam Collins
The 2021 South Summit launches on March 3rd with welcoming remarks by New Orleans Film Society staff members Fallon Young, Clint Bowie, and Zandashé Brown. The opening also includes a Land Acknowledgement with Kaila Pulliam Collins.
Register for free here.

11:15 – 12:00 PM – Opening Keynote: “It Still Needs a Title – Reimagining the South in Mariah Carey’s Heels by Bo McGuire”
This note will be delivered by Alabama-based filmmaker Bo McGuire in the key of Mariah Carey with a Dolly Parton twang. It will seek to identify lessons he learned from his own Alabama mama that he employed while making his first feature, Socks on Fire, winner of the jury award at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival. This litany will highlight and trace the rich, dependable imaginative, and creative spaces available to (and specific to) Southern film folk as we negotiate all the beautiful, everchanging uncertainties of filmmaking.
Register for free here.

12:00 – 12:15 PM – Break

12:15 – 1:15 PM – Session: Reframing Success Through a Regional Lens
Speakers: Edward Buckles, Jr., Christine Hoang, Sharon Arteaga
Moderated by Kiyoko McCrae
Imagine a world without Sundance – what does it mean for a film’s measure of success if a Sundance premiere or a mention in Variety isn’t on the table? What does success look like if we define it by the power it has to shift narratives, build power and create social change instead?  The film landscape is structured around the notion of prestige and for institutions, it’s being visible, being sought after for partnerships, getting major institutional funding — the focus is often on centering a singular voice and less about collective imaginings. We are structurally incentivized to seek this kind of celebrity, not solidarity. What would it mean for us to look deeper into our immediate surroundings, into our communities here at home, and find how our work can find success, validation, and build power locally? This conversation will feed into a breakout session around reframing success.
Register for free here.

1:15 – 1:45 PM – Breakout Session: Reframing Success Break-Outs
Register for free here.

1:45 – 2:00 PM – Break

2:00 – 2:15 PM – Spoken Word Performance: “What’s in Ya Hand?”
by Zaire Love
“What’s in ya hand?” explores the power Black folks hold in the South. Zaire Love is a multi-disciplinary artist, award-winning filmmaker, TEDx speaker, and social entrepreneur working and living in the South.
Register for free here.

2:15 – 3:30 PM – Session: Collective Leadership in Documentary
Speakers: adé ONI, Reeyana Sehgeh, jazz franklin, MEKAHEL “KI” FRANCOIS
Moderated by Rahi Hasan
White supremacy and Capitalism forces hierarchical leadership structure. With hierarchy comes competition, with competition, comes urgency. Urgency restricts us from nurturing one another and accessing our own power. What does power look like in a nurturing environment? This panel will feature perspectives from Southern creatives and storytellers committed to re-imagining leadership to build collective power. This panel will explore what decentering leadership means and looks like in the Documentary field through the lens of media collectives. It will also address how competition for resources can be sidelined within underfunded regions like the South, both for artists and nonprofits. Register for free here.

This event will be followed by a short presentation by Chloe Walters-Wallace on the new Hindsight Project by Firelight Media, Reel South, and the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM). 

The Hindsight Project is a new initiative that marks the first-time partnership between the three organizations and models what shared power and resources can look like for organizations. The Hindsight Project is focused on supporting Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) filmmakers living in the American South and U.S. Territories. The filmmakers selected for the series will create short films for a new digital series exploring the lived experiences of communities of color in the South and in Puerto Rico that reflect the migrations and movements throughout the complicated history of these regions.

DAY 2 – MARCH 4, 2021 – SCHEDULE

11:30 – 11:40 AM – Welcome Remarks + Day 1 Debrief
Speakers: Fallon Young, Clint Bowie,and Zandashé Brown
Register for free here.

11:40 – 12:00 PM – Screening – Hoktiwe: Two Poems in Ishakkoy
Writer Jeffery U. Darensbourg introduces his film with Fernando López, “Hoktiwe: Two Poems in Ishakkoy.” Darensbourg is a writer, editor, and storyteller who is an enrolled member of the Atakapa-Ishak Nation of Indians of mixed Indigenous, European, and West African ancestry.
Register for free here.

12:00 – 1:00 PM – Session: Southern Identity, Place, and Authorship
Speakers: Adam Forrester, Lee Laa Ray Guillory, Michelle Lanier, and Monique Michelle Verdin
Four Southern artists share brief passages from their essays on topics ranging from storytelling as a survival tactic to ethics and authority in the film world. All work is commissioned for the 2021 South Summit. This conversation will feed into an interactive breakout session with participants.
Register for free here.

1:00 – 1:30 PM  – Breakout Session: Southern Identity, Place, and Authorship
Register for free here.

1:30 – 1:45 PM – Break

1:45 – 2:00 pm – Spoken Word Performance: “Roots”
by Kayla Martinez
“Roots” is a perspective on bringing one’s Southernness into a new place. Kayla Martinez, originally from Louisiana, is an undergraduate at the University of Chicago studying Creative Writing and Inequality, Social Problems, and Change.
Register for free here.

2:00 – 3:00 PM – Session: Southern Futurism
Speakers: Rodneya Hart, Faren Humes, Daneeta Loretta Jackson, MJ Slide
Moderated by Zandashé Brown
What does it mean for Southern artists to leverage their firm grasp on the past to envision a better future? This panel invites Southern artists and filmmakers to be creative around the ways we incorporate technology, politics, climate change, and more into our storytelling. We’ll discuss the ways in which a Southern upbringing lends itself to the preservation, sustainability, and imagination.  The American South is radically changing every day and art is at the root of so much of that change. Join this panel of visionary southern artists in imagining a future for a region so well known for its past.
Register for free here.

3:00 – 3:15 PM – Break

3:15 PM – 4:00 PM – Closing Keynote Speech: How to Live with Your Dead by Chaedria LaBouvier
The South offers a blueprint for a country struggling with how to still integrate its literal ghosts. The South is built upon coffins, like America. New Orleans has no choice but to live side- by-side its undead, creating a city in which the veil between the living and dead is thin, if at all. But it is perhaps what the U.S. may be able to hope for itself. Empire has nothing to offer us, but the end of the empire may offer us something of integration of history, and with it, the peace of the truth, for the truth, is the undead.
Register for free here.

South Summit received critical support from JustFilms, which is part of the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression program, and is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.