As part of an opportunity to bring new programs to Maryville College, the Clayton Center for the Arts is hosting the Southern Circuit of Independent Films for the 2017 season. This is a great opportunity for both the Maryville College and the Clayton Center, as it gives students and the community the chance to see films that are not shown anywhere else close to Maryville.
The Southern Circuit of Independent Films is provided and coordinated by the South Arts group, a nonprofit Regional Arts Organization located in Atlanta, Ga.
Founded in 1975, South Arts was made “to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts,” according to the group’s website. The group’s mission statement stands to “strengthen the South through advancing excellence in the arts, connecting the arts to key state and national policies and nurturing a vibrant quality of life.”
The South Arts group’s film touring, Southern Circuit, serves as a season of independent films meant to engage the region in social and community issues. In order to provide the audience with a one of a kind experience, the Southern Circuit connects with the independent filmmakers to engage in Q&A’s after each of the film’s showings.
South Arts’s website argues that Southern Circuit “transforms watching film from a solitary experience into a communal one,” by paying for the travel of the films’ producers, writers, or directors to each showing. This allows for something more than just another screening of a film at the theater or online. These filmmakers have the chance to show their work to a large audience and have the ability to engage in a variety of regional differences.
“Each film will be thought provoking and should evoke a desire for some great conversations following,” said Cheri Compton, Director of Marketing and Sponsorships, in her promotional column written for the Clayton Center website.
For the Clayton Center’s Southern Circuit films, there will be six in total and all shown in the Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall. The first film shown was “When God Sleeps” by Till Schauder on Sept. 27.
This documentary is about Iranian musician Shahin Najafi and how his plight ties into vast historical and social context that spans across borders. “When God Sleeps” is critically acclaimed and will have its world premiere at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
The second film to appear on the campus’ Southern Circuit tour will be “Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four” by Deborah Esquenazi.
This film “excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two little girls in San Antonio, Texas,” said a promotional press release for the documentary.
In theme with the social commentary nature of the films for Southern Circuit, this film asks its viewers to think about the personal narratives of each of these women, while encouraging the audience to ponder ways to find the truth in an emotional criminal case.
“Southwest of Salem” will be showing on Oct. 25 at 7:00 p.m. In addition to the opportunity to view this new film, a Q&A session will be held with the filmmaker Deborah Esquenazi. The trailer can be viewed on the Clayton Center website under this event’s information.
The Clayton Center and Maryville College campus are very lucky to have been considered and selected to be a part of this great program and encourage the students and local community to take advantage of these new and profound independent films before they’ve been publicly released.