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 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.
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.
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
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: http://bit.ly/southernfilmresources 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.
Wednesday, May 10, 2023
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM CST | Welcome Remarks + Keynote Speech “The South speaks, we listen” with Elaine McMillion Sheldon | Register here
The 2023 South Summit launches on May 10th with welcoming remarks by New Orleans Film Society staff members Zuri Obi and Clint Bowie.
“[The South]…is my sanctuary. But sanctuary is not one place and it’s not always easy to find. It’s the deep blue hues of the Appalachian mountains silhouetted against the sky and fog. It’s the way the light filters through the Poplar trees and onto the dirt path. It’s the running river stream with its uncertain and slippery rocks. Although I’ve spent some time living outside of the region, I choose to make The South & Appalachia home and in a lot of ways this place chooses us…
Elaine McMillion Sheldon is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy and Peabody-winning filmmaker. She just premiered her latest film KING COAL at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Sheldon is the director of two Netflix Original Documentaries – HEROIN(E) and RECOVERY BOYS- that explore America’s opioid crisis. She has been named a Creative Capital Awardee, Guggenheim Fellow, a USA Fellow by United States Artists, and one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film,” by Filmmaker Magazine.
12:00 PM – 12:40 PM CST | “Living on the Fenceline” Essay Reading + Q&A with Lo Jackson | Register here
Essayist: Lo Jackson
Reflects on the community and ecological impact of another 100 years of refineries in St. Bernard Parish.
Lo Jackson is a filmmaker from New Orleans, LA. She was born in St. Bernard Parish and graduated from Loyola University with a degree in English with concentration in film and digital media.
12:40 PM – 12:45 PM CST | Music Break
Playlist by Bo McGuire
12:45 PM – 2:00 PM CST | Building on Bones: An Experimental Filmmaking Approach | Register here
Moderator: Zuri Obi
Speakers: Kate Hinshaw, Elizabeth Webb
As we discover Southern legacies, we encounter not only the joys and triumphs of historical movements, but we may also carry the trauma of a past still struggling to free itself. As future-tense filmmakers dealing with lost, incomplete or traumatic archives, how do we transform sites of pain into portals of possibility?
Kate E. Hinshaw is an experimental filmmaker, zine maker, and director of photography whose work draws from personal experience to explore themes of gender identity, disability, access and environment. Tactily, she works with 16mm and super 8mm film through bleaching, scratching, painting, and burning the emulsion in order to tell stories through color and texture. Her films have screened at SXSW, Rooftop Films, New Orleans Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, and Indie Memphis. Kate is currently based in Wilmington, NC, where she teaches at UNCW and runs the film publication Analog Cookbook.
Elizabeth M. Webb is an artist and filmmaker from Charlottesville, VA. Her work is invested in issues surrounding race and identity, often using the lens of her own family history of migration and racial passing to explore larger, systemic constructs and the renegotiation of their borders. Her work has been screened and exhibited in the U.S., U.K., Canada, Japan, Ecuador, Singapore, Switzerland, Mexico, Spain, Austria, Norway and Germany, at venues including the Viennale, BlackStar Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, MCA Chicago, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Birmingham Museum of Art, and Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans, among others.
Zuri Obi is a Haitian-American artist raised with deep cultural roots in magical realism. As a multidisciplinary filmmaker, her work strives to situate the viewer within surreal spaces that challenge conventional ‘truth’ and ‘reality’. As a Camerawomxn, she has collaborated with artists such as Solange and Lizzo, and as Creative Producer, her projects have screened at notable film festivals, including Sundance and won top awards at New Orleans Film Festival, AFI and BlackStar. Zuri also works as a Film Curator at New Orleans Film Society, where she champions community-centered cinematic experiences
2:00 PM – 2:15 PM CST | Music Break
Playlist by Bo McGuire
2:15 PM – 3:30 PM CST | Southern Queer Sanctuaries | Register here
Speakers: Maya Pen, Greko Sklavounos, Vaughn Trudeau
The future of Southern Queer communities are, once again, at the center of political debates concerning access to healthcare and safe spaces. But how are South-based film and mediamakers building sanctuary for Queer folks in the face of political backlash? How are we redefining what it means to be safe in The South?
Maya Pen is a self taught artist from Philadelphia, based in New Orleans, LA. She works across various mediums, including film, special effects, performance art, puppetry, theater, music, and creative writing.
Greko Sklavounos is an American artist and filmmaker of Greek and Mexican descent. He received a BFA in film from Florida State University (2007) and an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (2016). Sklavounos’ films have been screened internationally at festivals including the Athens International Film Festival, New Orleans Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and the Miami Film Festival. Greko was a 2022 Flaherty Film Seminar Fellow, a 2022 Third Horizon Forward Fellow, and is currently a Cinematic Arts resident at Oolite Arts in Miami, where he is developing his debut feature film.
Vaughn Trudeau is a New Orleans-based. filmmaker and educator. Since beginning his career, Vaughn has produced films and TV shows on both coasts with companies ranging from Viacom (MTV, VH1) to Warner Bros., CBS, NBC, Vimeo and, most recently, Live Nation Productions. He has always divided his time between working in the field with teaching the craft to a new generation of creative minds, from high school through college and beyond in master’s programs. Vaughn uses any and all of his time between mainstream entertainment projects to write, produce, direct and edit his own films.
Farrington is a rising star in the world of film criticism, with roots in the stunning United States Virgin Islands and a home base in glamorous Atlanta, Georgia. As the founder of Film| Festival| Farrington, he is a sought-after programming and operations specialist, with a passion for advocating for inclusion, social justice, and underrepresented communities in media and the creative arts. With a tricoastal reach, Farrington’s programming has been featured at renowned festivals such as Frameline, Oxford, Atlanta Film Festival, and more. He is a proud member of The Programmers of Colour and Queer Programmers United circle. He can be found cuddling with his kitten Ruffles whenever he has a free moment.
3:30 PM – 4:30 PM CST | “Propriety & Perversion” Essay Reading + Q&A with Hanna Miller + Closing Remarks | Register here
Essayist: Hanna Miller
Hanna Lane Miller is a documentary filmmaker from Collins, Mississippi who has partnered with the New York Times, Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, Rolling Stone, POV, Independent Lens, and more. Her Op-Doc “We Became Fragments” was IDA-nominated and won Best Documentary at an Oscar-qualifying festival. In 2020, Hanna won the Best Cinematography Award at Georgia Shorts Film Festival, and in 2021, she won an Edward R. Murrow Award. She is working on her first feature documentary, a film set in a small Mississippi town.
Hanna has a BA in Russian and an Masters of Journalism from UC Berkeley. She is also a Fulbright Scholar.
Day 1 of the 2023 South Summit wraps with closing remarks by New Orleans Film Society staff members Zuri Obi and Clint Bowie.
Thursday, May 11, 2023
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM CST | Opening Remarks + “Trending New Ground” Essay Reading + Q&A with Angela Tucker | Register here
Essayist: Angela Tucker
Day 2 of the 2023 South Summit opens on May 11th with welcoming remarks by New Orleans Film Society staff members Zuri Obi and Clint Bowie.
Angela Tucker is an Emmy and Webby-winning filmmaker working in scripted and unscripted film and television highlighting underrepresented communities in unconventional ways. Recent work includes BELLY OF THE BEAST (dir. Erika Cohn) a NY Times Critics Pick, THE TREES REMEMBER, a series for REI and A NEW ORLEANS NOEL, a Lifetime film starring Patti LaBelle. Films in production are THE INQUISITOR, about political icon Barbara Jordan and STEAM (w/t) about a global alternative health treatment. She is a recipient of the 2023 Chicken and Egg Award and a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.
12:00 PM – 1:15 PM CST | The Shifting South: Beyond the Black/White Binary presented by ITVS | Register here
Moderator: Noland Walker
Speakers: Naveen Chaubal, Karla Murthy, Tim Tsai
Historically, conversations around Southern identity have centered the black/white racial binary but The South is, and has been, home to a spectrum of communities and cultures that have nuanced what it means to be “Southern.” Featuring filmmakers whose work have been supported by ITVS.
Naveen Chaubal is a Louisville based director, producer and cinematographer. He’s a fellow of Project: Involve, Fast Track, BAVC MediaMaker and Sundance Institute’s Uprise grant. His worked has screened at Tribeca and Hot Docs has been supported by ITVS, the Southern Documentary Fund, New Orleans Film Society, and Louisville Visual Art.
Karla Murthy is an Emmy-nominated producer and has been working on news documentaries for over 15 years as a producer, shooter and correspondent. Her work was described in the Columbia Journalism Review as “compelling, informative and compassionate.” Karla’s directorial debut, the award-winning feature documentary The Place That Makes Us premiered on America ReFramed in 2021.
Tim Tsai produced and directed KLRU’s short documentary series Austin Revealed: Pioneers from the East, which profiles some of the earliest Chinese American families to settle in Central Texas. His editorial work include Yakona (SXSW ’14 Audience Award), a hybrid “pure cinema” film about the San Marcos river, distributed on Sundance Now. He holds an MFA in film and video production from the University of Texas at Austin, is the former executive director of the Austin Asian American Film Festival, and is a Firelight Media Documentary Labs alum. His first documentary feature Seadrift premiered at the 2019 Slamdance Film Festival and was broadcast on PBS.
Noland Walker is Content VP at ITVS where he oversees the organization’s funding initiatives, talent and project cultivation, develops a portfolio of programs, and provides editorial and production support to a broader slate of films. He co-programs the award-winning Independent Lens series and was an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker prior to coming to ITVS. His rich, varied career spans Public Media, network sitcoms and commercials as well as Independent film. Among the films he produced, wrote, or directed are Citizen King, Jonestown: Life and Death of Peoples Temple, and Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story.
1:15 PM – 1:20 PM CST | Music Break
Playlist by Bo McGuire
1:30 PM – 2:05 PM CST | “Human/Nature” Essay Reading + Q&A with Colleen Thurston | Register here
Essayist: Colleen Thurston
Colleen Thurston is a documentary storyteller and film programmer from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her films explore the relationships between humans and the natural world and focus on Indigenous perspectives. Colleen has produced for the Smithsonian Channel, Vox, and museums, public television, and federal and tribal organizations. Her work has screened at international film festivals and broadcast nationwide.
Colleen is an Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma, the project coordinator for the Indigenous video series, Native Lens, and is a programmer for Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival.
She is a Firelight Media doc lab alum, a Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Fund Fellow, and a citizen of the Choctaw Nation.
2:05 PM – 3:00 PM CST | Music Break
Playlist by Bo McGuire
3:00 PM – 4:30 PM CST | The Great (re)Migration + Closing Remarks | Register here
Moderator: Zuri Obi
Speakers: Abraham Felix, Jon-Sesrie Goff, Stevee-Rayne Warren
In today’s expansive digital space, the borders of success in the film industry are being redefined beyond the NY/LA business model binary. But as Southern filmmakers, whose art and heart call The South home, what does it mean to be successful in the film industry and how do we build structures and support systems that foster storytelling from home?
Abraham Felix is a New Orleans-based filmmaker whose soulful neorealist work explores complex human characters navigating the structural framework of society. Focusing on crucial truths embedded in every storyline, he brings a grounded and confident thoughtfulness to his commercial and narrative work which aims to shift culture toward a more humane, just, and inclusive place.
He is a Young Director Award Winner, a 1.4 Award Winner, a 2x Clio Award winner, a D&AD Graphite Pencil Winner, and has been shortlisted for AICP and Webby awards. He is currently directing a feature documentary, and is in development on his first narrative feature.
Jon-Sesrie Goff is a multidisciplinary artist, curator, and arts administrator. His work includes extensive research, visual documentation, and oral history interviews in the coastal American South on the legacy of Black land ownership and Gullah Geechee culture. He is part of the Ford Foundation’s Creativity and Free Expression team and makes grants globally in documentary film, new media, and visual storytelling for the foundation’s JustFilms program. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the Flaherty Film Seminar and worked in the Office of Curatorial Affairs at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture. Jon engages with his work from the paradigm of a social change instigator.
Zuri Obi is a Haitian-American artist raised with deep cultural roots in magical realism. As a multidisciplinary filmmaker, her work strives to situate the viewer within surreal spaces that challenge conventional ‘truth’ and ‘reality’. As a Camerawomxn, she has collaborated with artists such as Solange and Lizzo, and as Creative Producer, her projects have screened at notable film festivals, including Sundance and won top awards at New Orleans Film Festival, AFI and BlackStar. Zuri also works as a Film Curator at New Orleans Film Society, where she champions community-centered cinematic experiences.
The 2023 South Summit wraps with closing remarks by New Orleans Film Society staff members Zuri Obi and Clint Bowie.