The New Orleans Film Society’s South Summit is a convening of local, regional, and national media makers, arts funders, and institutional stakeholders, intended to seed conversations and action around creating, resourcing, and amplifying storytelling through film and media that shapes the perspective of the American South for those both outside and within it.

This year, we mused on the theme of Southern Futurism, inviting our wider arts community to co-dream an expansive future for South-based mediamakers and build philosophical frameworks that will help guide the future of storytelling in the American South and beyond. Southern Futurism is NOW.

The 2024 South Summit (April 23 – 24, 2024) was a 2-day virtual convening and co-dreaming of a future South, and FREE and OPEN to the public. Click here to read the 2024 South Summit Report.


Day 1 | Tuesday, April 23  (All events in CST)

11:00AM – 11:10AM |  Opening Remarks by Clint Bowie and Zuri Obi + Grounding Breathwork w/ Maaliyah Papillion  Register Here


11:10AM – 12:00PM | Keynote Speech by Lauren Domino + Q&A  Register Here

Lauren Domino, Academy Award and BAFTA nominated producer of TIME (Amazon Studios) and American Symphony (Netflix), explores alternate creative paths and creative healing modalities that build bridges to future visionings. 


12:00PM – 12:30PM | Essay Reading: Southern Futurism  Register Here 

Rodneyna Hart, guest panelist during South Summit 2021, coined the term “Southern Futurism”. But what is it? Join us, as we attempt to collectively define a Future South


12:45PM – 2:00PM | “Cinema is dead”: a conversation with Hyphen Film Center Register Here

 In this exploratory conversation, members of Hyphen Film Center will present a case study of community-based efforts to build alternate streams in the ecosystem of film distribution. A group of diverse and community-rooted filmmakers, curators and artists, this Louisville-based microcinema collective aims to engage and enrich diverse audiences through innovative and intimate cinematic arts exhibitions.  


2:15PM – 3:30PM  | Seeing Sounds  Register Here

This panel is a discussion with film composers and music artists exploring new media and other non-traditional creative practices. We explore composer’s dreams for a future south, creative inspirations and their process of converting visuals into sound into matter- and back again. 


3:45PM – 5:00PM | Deep Impact presented by ITVS  Register Here

In documentary filmmaking, we encounter the lives of participants within a limited scope. But after the camera’s cut and their stories have long reached the viewing public, the real lives of participants go on- beyond the film. In this panel we delve deeper into the lives of south-based documentary participants and explore how nonfiction filmmaking has impacted their work life, personal relationships and mental health. In this conversation, we flip the lens and take an unflinching look at the murky ethical lines of nonfiction filmmaking from the perspective of participants.


5:00PM – 5:15PM | Closing Remarks by Zuri Obi and Clint Bowie + Grounding Breathwork with Maaliyah Papillion  Register Here 

Day 2 | Wednesday, April 24 (All events in CST)

11:00AM – 11:10AM | Opening Remarks + Grounding Breathwork with Maaliyah Papillion  Register Here 


11:10AM – 11:45AM | Essay Reading: Andy Sarjahani  Register Here 

Andy Sarjahani, director of Wild Hogs and Saffron, explores the power of nuance in pursuit of narrative justice


12:00PM – 1:15PM: Cooperative filmmaking for Collective Liberation: A conversation with Studio Lalala  Register Here 

How can moving cooperatively as independent filmmakers make it possible to see resourced communities of filmmakers retaining control of their creative vision, while achieving economic autonomy? Studio Lalala, a New Orleans based productive cooperative, will lead an open and exploratory discussion on how they’ve applied the principles of cooperatives to their filmmaking practice to meet their specific needs as South-based QTBIPOC filmmakers. They hope to invite a conversation that will inspire ways of organizing ourselves that deprioritize the hustle, and support our creativity without compromise.


1:30PM – 2:45PM | Ancestral Futures presented by Reel South  Register Here 

The expanse of the future is rooted in the depth of the past. In this discussion with filmmakers, writers and artists-alike, we muse on ancestral legacies and future-tense placemaking.


2:45PM – 3:00PM | Talkback with Maaliyah Papillion  Register Here 

Maaliyah Papillion, a third generation healer, shares her ancestral knowledge and experience in the entertainment industry as an actress, model and director. As founder of Chrysalis Transformative Healing, a wellness practice focusing on self healing through personal storytelling, Maaliyah talks about their dreams of a future south and offers tangible tools for self-healing and community care through ritual. 


3:00PM – 3:45PM | Essay reading by Lev Omelchenko  Register Here 

Lev Omelchenko explores the proliferation of “Cop Cities” across the Southern region and it’s future implications on humans and the natural ecosystems that sustains a liberatory life


3:45PM – 4:00PM | Closing Remarks by Zuri Obi and Clint Bowie + Grounding Breathwork with Maaliyah Papillion  Register Here 

2023 South Summit

What do South-based artists need to continue to tell bold and powerful stories that have the potential to imagine new possibilities for a Southern identity––stories that have the power to reshape the world’s understanding of our region, and to shift how we Southerners see ourselves? 

In its fifth iteration, South Summit 2023 identified the theme of “South as Sanctuary,” and we invited South-based filmmakers to deeply reflect on this question- to answer what it means to call the American South home.

Taking place on May 10-11, 2023, South Summit gathered local, regional, and national mediamakers, arts funders, and institutional stakeholders, to engage in robust critical conversations and actions around creating, resourcing, and amplifying film and media that shapes both extrinsic and intrinsic views of the American South. Our two-day, all-virtual, all-free event featured sessions that explored how to build sanctuary as a foundational tool in redefining personal—and community—power and success.

2022 South Summit

The 2022 South Summit was the fourth iteration and followed 2021’s theme of shared power, mutually beneficial relationship building within the region, and mobility. South Summit is free and open to the public.





This field-building summit provides an opportunity to discuss critical issues facing both artists and institutions working outside the focus of the financial and media industry concentrated in New York and Los Angeles.

The conversations around this year’s summit are threaded together by a theme of Southern Legacy. Through a series of southern artist-led conversations in the shape of keynotes, spoken word presentations, panels, essays, and artist workshops, we will explore how the American South of today has been so deeply shaped and defined in media and storytelling by the events of its past. The Summit asks Southern filmmakers and storytellers to reflect on the many legacies they come from and envision the new legacies they would like to leave behind.

The summit will offer a keynote speech, four panel discussions, one breakout session, three featured artists and organizations, and an artist talk and workshop led by New Orleans born-and-based director and cinematographer Zac Manuel, presenting filmmaker and honoree of the 2022 South Summit.

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 spinning our Southern Playlist – a mix of tunes from different genres and parts of the region that celebrate the diversity of the South. 

Click to download: [Press Release] [Social Media Toolkit] [Flyers]

2021 South Summit





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.

Thank you to our 2024 sponsors and partners!