Jasper Indie Grits Picks, Day 3: Overall and Aprons (7pm, 4/16)

spoon-in-fist-400x298 First, BIG FREEDIA!!!!!!!

Now that that's out of the way, Overalls and Aprons (7pm screening 4/16) looks like a fascinating choice for tonight if for some reason you don't plan on catching the bounce queen in action. Indie Grits always prides itself on digging into the corners and crevices of Southern culture, and this feature documentary does exactly that by celebrating the farm-to-table movement while critically examining if, why, and how sustainable agriculture is viable for modern-day farmers. And, in some sense, this is really just a love letter from filmmaker Thibaut Fagonde to the thriving culinary and farming communities in Charleston. Familiar faces and places abound in the trailer, and it's hard not to get wrapped up in the obvious excitement and fervor Fagonde brings to the subject.


Jasper Indie Grits Picks, Day 2: Paperback (4/15, 9:30pm, 4/16 2pm)

spoon-in-fist-400x298 Amid a deep slate of films on Day 2 of Indie Grits, we want to highlight one of the few narrative features that dot the festival's lineup, Adam Bowers' Paperback. On spec it looks like a romantic comedy crossed with wry slacker existentialism, but one of the great things about Indie Grits curation is that they tend to pick films that subvert such expectations.

Personally, I've always a bit bowled over by truly independent narrative features. The amount of time, money, and energy which go into making them without studio backing is astounding, and it's a tremendous artistic achievement to go through all that for an uncertain screening future. It's also something that, given the overwhelming amount of movies and television we have access to, is far too easy to take for granted.


6 Questions with Wade Sellers whose film ANATOMY OF A FLOOD Premieres at INDIE GRITS


JASPER:  The work you've done for Indie Grits this year is untitled in the program literature. Is that intentional? Is there a title or could you give it a title now, if you had to?

SELLERS:  The title of the installation is Anatomy of a Flood. I don't think I had a title for it when they asked for the proposals from the artists. I had a general idea but didn't decide on a title until I solidified the concept.
JASPER:  Tell us just a little bit about the impetus for your film.
SELLERS:  I had been asked by a friend if I would be willing to video the interior of a home for insurance purposes that had been damaged by the flooding. I agreed and realized that this was a way that I could offer what I do to those affected. I ended up capturing footage of many homes that were horribly damaged by the flood waters and during the time I spent in each one, the damage and its effect on the owners weighed on me. I though of talking to the owners then and asking about their experience but I couldn't, I didn't feel it was right to do. I wasn't gathering news, I would've asked very personal questions and it was too soon.
When I was asked to participate in the Waterlines project by Seth, I wanted to revisit those home owners and others affected by the flood and have them tell me their personal story of that night.
The narrative of the film is fairly narrow. I asked those that I interviewed to tell me only of their experience the night of October 3rd until the time they left their home the next morning.
JASPER:  Sometimes Indie Grits films are a work in progress - is yours? (If yes, how so?)
SELLERS:  The project is finished and was originally intended to be a one time screening because of the nature of how it is projected. I've changed my thinking now and think it would be appropriate to be projected as one piece on one wall.
JASPER:  What was the most challenging part in the process of making this film?
SELLERS:  It is always hard to edit out good parts of a story and Anatomy of a Flood was no different. There were some moments of each person's story of the night of the flood that were extremely engaging, but didn't really fit in the whole of the piece. Since the film is projected on three different walls the timing of each visual was a bit tricky but turned out to be very effective when played together.
The technique I use in editing the interviews is based off of what I developed for a documentary series I directed and edited, where we interview many people about one event. The interviews are then edited together to feel as if it is one continuous story but told by many people and from their personalities in telling the story you get the idea of the makeup of them as individuals and as a community.
JASPER:  How did making this film affect or change you as a filmmaker?
SELLERS:  The project itself is the first time I have created a film to be projected on multiple screens at the same time. At the heart of it it is a narrative documentary, the only difference is that it has contrasting images projected at the same time on opposite walls. I create films that tell engaging stories. I wanted this to be the same but also wanted to add the element of other possible narratives trying to fight and disorient the viewers attention.
JASPER:  What do you hope people will take away from having seen the film?
SELLERS:  I don't feel I overstretched my limits with Anatomy of a Flood. Projecting on multiple surfaces isn't new, but I think the project does offer an engaging opportunity for viewers. My goal with it is to have the viewer struggle to watch and listen to the narrative while having the secondary images fighting for their attention as well. It is supposed to illicit an emotional response, to disorient or maybe confuse-much like the events of the night of the flooding or much like diving into water and not knowing, for a split second, which way is the way to the top.
But in the end, I want the viewer to be able to say that they had a shared experience and that they may feel closer to our community.
"If you are someone who creates, then I think it is critical that you push yourself and create something that speaks to your community after your community has suffered. The fact that our community has organizations such as The Nickelodeon and One Columbia that not only support and encourage but commission these efforts puts our city in a position to strengthen the fabric that holds it together in ways we won't realize until the years ahead." - Wade Sellers

Jasper Indie Grits Picks, Day 1: The Color of Fire (4/14, 7pm @ The Nick)

spoon-in-fist-400x298 The 2016 Indie Grits Festival is coming at us full steam today (Thursday, April 14th), with a great slate of films, the launch of both the Indie Bits video game showcase the Scenario Collective's The Sweet Spot venue for the weekend, and the riverside performance of eighth blackbird.

While the gorgeous outdoor venue for the latter group is likely to steal most of the thunder of this year's festival, particularly when the day-long festivities there on Saturday culminate with the twerking spectacle of bounce queen Big Freedia, we here at Jasper always have a special affection for the indie film heart of this annual event. In that spirit, each day of the festival we're going to try and highlight a film or two we think is worth your time.


The Color of Fire (70 min, dir. by Dorian Warneck; Screening 4/14, 7pm @ The Nick )

While we hate to steer anybody away from eighth blackbird's unique performance next to the Congaree, The Color of Fire was one of the initial film announcements that really caught our eye. Directed by Dorian Warneck, a young Charleston photographer and editor at the Lunch and Recess creative agency, the documentary is an exploration of Dorian's father Diether, who experienced the bombing of his hometown of Dresden, Germany, at the end of World War II and was an enlisted soldier in the Nazi army at the age of 15 for the final month of the war.

The younger Warneck interviews his father as the two travel to Germany to visit Diether's elder siblings and see Dresden "for the last time." Most of Diether's life is filled with "love, family, intrigue, art, and personal accomplishment," but the film's intent on getting at how such a single, pivotal decision at a crisis point in world history can alter the trajectory and meaning of a person's life is heavily poignant, as is Dorian's desire and willingness to dive this deep into such a tragic part of his family history. This has all the makings of an Indie Grits selection to remember.



Preview: Indie Grits 2015, Day 4

IG-Logo It's Saturday at Indie Grits!

That means the Love, Peace, & Hip-Hop festival is already in full swing on the 1700 block of Main Street. The event boasts a bevy of genuine headliners like Nice & Smooth, Monie Love, and Big Gipp (of The Goodie Mob) but is worth attending largely because of it's family-friendly celebration of the vibrancy and importance of hip-hop culture. Various vendors and non-profits will be dotting the sidewalks as DJs, B-Boy dance crews, and hip-hop visual artists gather together in the spirit of DJ Afrika Bambaataa's "4 pillars of hip-hop."

Jasper is particularly stoked for Big Gipp though--Goodie Mob is one of the key outfits in the Atlanta hip-hop scene of the 1990s, and is still one of the most influential outfits in defining "The Dirty South" sound for a genre too-often thought of in terms of East Coast (NYC) vs. West Coast (LA).


There's also a full day of screenings to take advantage of! The full schedule is at available at the Indie Grits website here, but it's worth noting how many blocks of shorts are available today--the Embarrassing Love block at 2pm, People Portraits at 2:30, Four Minute Film Frenzy at 4pm, Heritage in Drift at 4:30pm, Burdens of the Past at 8:30pm, and Summoning the Supernatural at 9pm. These blocks are a great chance to experience the full range of filmmaking possibilities and thrive off their juxtaposition to one another, something which is commonplace (and great) a film festival but that we don't often experience otherwise.

We attended Burdens of the Past yesterday and can personally recommend that block. It's mostly a collection of portraits of people you would likely scorn--a murderer, child molester, and campus preacher--but each vignette is lovingly rendered and looks to find the depth of humanity in its subject matter. It also showcases the range of motivations and possibilities inherent in making shorts too.

Vidia Propa

Features tonight include Western at 6pm, a nonfiction take on the genre that still simmers prominently in our national imagination, and Vida Propia, which sounds like a heartbreaking observational documentary of first-generation Mexican immigrants struggling to survive in North Carolina. The latter screens at 6:30pm.

Also going on tonight in the second performance of this year's Spork in Hand Puppet Slam! It's hard to say what exactly will happen at this anything-goes, adults-only collection of puppetry pieces, but Prairie Willows will be performing and puppeteers from around the Southeast will be showcasing the incredible creative abundance of their art form. That starts at 7pm.


Then there's the closing party at 10pm, where you can get down with all the filmmakers to the tunes of Mechanical River and Infinitikiss. We would say that's a wrap on Indie Grits, but there's more stuff in store for tomorrow, when festival winners will screen throughout the day...


Chatting with Jiyoung Lee, Whose film Female Pervert Screens at Indie Grits 2015

IG-Logo By: Wade Sellers

Female Pervert director Jiyoung Lee took the time to answer a couple of questions about life in Atlanta and her film, which screens in competition tonight [The Nickelodeon, Downstairs Theater- 7:30pm] at Indie Grits.

How is life as an indie filmmaker in Atlanta?

It's nice to be an indie filmmaker in Atlanta. You have access to great community of actors and film professionals. (Many Hollywood productions are shot in Atlanta.) And the Atlanta Film Festival is very supportive of local filmmakers.

The downside of being a filmmaker in Atlanta is that you have few local sources for funding. But funding is hard these days, regardless of location. Also, the hot and humid summers in Atlanta can make film shoots challenging.

The synopsis of Female Pervert mentions that your film touches on classic issues of young men and women, such as finding true emotional connections in the world, but digs deeper into your protagonist’s eccentric interests. How has the film been received so far and what are some of the responses you have gotten?

Female Pervert is an idiosyncratic movie and I didn't necessarily try to please people when making it. People either love or hate the movie. Very few people have a middling opinion of the movie. However, most people agree the lead actress Jennifer Kim did a fantastic job. So the movie's definitely worth seeing just for her performance alone.


Preview: Indie Grits 2015, Day 2

IG-Logo There’s really so much going on at Indie Grits each day that picking and choosing what to do comes down, more than ever, to time, taste, and happenstance. But here’s a few picks anyway.

We’ve already highlighted director Amanda Berg’s Every Body Hit Somebody, which screens at 7:30 tonight, here, but it’s worth noting that she also has another film in the festival, Welcome Home, Fayetteville Observer, a short about daily military life on Fort Bragg, that screens ahead of Old South, a fascinating documentary by Danielle Beverly that looks at the interactions between a predominantly (and historically) black neighborhood in Athens with a newly-arrived white fraternity house that just happens to fly the Confederate flag and hold an annual antebellum parade. Jasper got to see an early cut of this film last year and found it to be a fascinating exploration of naiveté and oh-so-tentative understanding between unlikely neighbors. Old South and Welcome Home screen in the 5:30 block today.


We’d also be remised if we didn’t point out that today is the grand opening of all of the Future Perfect visual art installations that mark the first time Indie Grits has ventured so wholeheartedly into that arena. Over 20 artists are showing in various spaces throughout the 1500 and 1600 blocks of Main Street as they tackle questions about past, present, and possible futures for a 21st century South. Various tours are launching from the Nick at 6:00, 6:45, and 7:30, on which you’ll have the opportunity to ask the artists questions. We’re the tour guides on the 6:45 one, so you should probably cross the other two off your to-do list. We’ll have Oreos. Seriously.

In another bout of shameless self promotion, my podcast with Lee Snelgrove, Art, Pop, & Fizz, had a great conversation with Maureen Conner of the Institute for Wishful Thinking, which will have an installation in the One Columbia office at 1219 Taylor. Check that podcast out here.

A sample of Hollis Hammond's work, who will be showing in the Free Times gallery.

Last but not least, we’d like to strongly endorse checking out the Fork & Spoon and Friends show at Music Farm tonight. Fork & Spoon is celebrating five years in business, and they’ve consistently put out some of our favorite local records while also managing to be supremely talented and awesome individuals.

Below are a few of the bands playing tonight. See ya out there gritting it up.






Double Header: Thinking About Gender and Athletics at Indie Grits

IG-Logo Indie Grits has always put an emphasis on documentaries engaging with thought-provoking social issues, and the 2015 edition is no exception. When Jasper was glancing over the schedule the first time, we quickly noted that two of the films--Every Body Hit Somebody [screening Thursday 4/16 at 7:30 in Nickelodeon Theater 1] and American Cheerleader [screening Friday 4/17 at 6:00 pm in Nickelodeon Theater 2]--explicitly tackle women and athletics, a rich area for exploring gender construction that both films tackle in different ways.


Every Body Hit Somebody, directed by Amanda Berg, is an experimental documentary that follows a women’s football team, the Carolina Phoenix, through the course of a season as it ponders questions of masculinity and femininity that are tied up and constricted in sports in ways that make the team and its league’s existence surprising and confounding. Berg made the film while getting her MFA at Duke University, and its unusual in a variety of ways, most notably in its combining of traditional documentary techniques like extended interviews and live-action with extensive use of still photographs (some of which have been featured on the New York Times Lens Blog) as well as its no-man’s-land run-time of 43 minutes.


American Cheerleader, on the other hand, takes on a more dominant and traditional cultural trope in the cheerleader, but attempts to both humanize the zany pop culture version of the sport typified by films like the Kirsten Dunst-starring Bring It On (2000) and to underline the competitive edge that the sport has. Directors James Pellerito and David Barba were initially skeptical about their subject matter, and that skepticism seems to have served them well in creating a compelling narrative that removes the more sensational aspects of how our culture understands cheerleading.

Jasper decided to shoot the makers of both films a few questions to get a sense of their films--how they came upon these topics, what they found surprising, and how they ultimately grappled with similar subject matter differently. Here’s what they said.

Jasper: What originally drew you to your subject matter? How did you “find your teams”?

James Pellerito (American Cheerleader): David Barba and I were originally approached to direct and produce a documentary about high school cheerleading and we were apprehensive because of the existing stereotypes of cheerleaders.  Our only points of reference for the sport were the National High School Cheerleading Championship broadcast on ESPN every year, and the movie Bring It On.  We took the project on as a challenge to produce the real Bring It On and break stereotypes about cheerleaders.

Amanda Berg (Every Body Hit Somebody): My own nostalgic football feelings and the desire to tell stories that explore gender boundaries. I researched “women’s tackle football” and found out there was a semi-professional women’s team right in Durham (NC), where I was living. I went to check out one of their pre-season practices and spent the rest of the season documenting.

Jasper: Both of you follow a single team over the course of a season, which provides a built-in narrative, but one I imagine many documentarians struggle with. What stories remain untold in this framework?

JP: For American Cheerleader, we followed two 12-member high school cheer teams and additional coaching staff.  The challenge for us was what stories to tell in the amount of screen time we had and of course we weren’t able to touch on every team member’s story.  We settled on four stories per team that served as a representation of the teams.

AB: A critique of the structure itself. A season is a linear narrative, one that we are all familiar and comfortable with. I saw this film as an opportunity to challenge narrative expectations as much as gender expectations. A lot is left untold in the hope that questions are more powerful than answers.

Jasper: Why do you think it’s important to make documentaries that tackle questions of athletics and construction of gender?

JP: It’s important to tackle these questions in order to get to the truth.  Stereotypes about athletics and construction of gender are generalizations that exist in public consciousness and have been perpetuated over decades.  If nothing is done to get to the truth, stereotypes persist.

AB: Questions about athletics and gender are important because of their prevalence in daily life, mainstream media and influence on individual freedom. Sports don’t simply reflect gender assumptions. For a really long time now sports have been one of the places where gender boundaries are defined.

Jasper:  What surprised or challenged you in the process of making your respective films?

JP: In making American Cheerleader, we were surprised by how driven and hard-working the teams were, as well as the family bonding among the athletes.  From our perspective as filmmakers, It was humbling to see how fearless and passionate the teenagers were in striving for their goal.  Their practice and competition schedules were not unlike those of high school football or other team sports.  And of course, we never could have predicted the ending.

AB: I was not expecting the Phoenix would go undefeated and win the league championship. Actually, I was having so much fun working on this project it didn’t cross my mind until we were in Texas for the title game.

Jasper: To what extent do these sports still construct certain kinds of gender identities? Is there a way forward to challenge or upend these conceptions?

JP: Cheerleading is still primarily a sideline sport promoting high school spirit and supporting other sports like football and basketball.  That will never change and maybe it shouldn’t.

AB: Football is still perpetuating “manliness.” More coverage of female athletes will promote mutual respect and opportunity between the sexes. As of now women’s sports only constitutes 2% of media coverage.

How have your films been doing? Have you shown anywhere else, or have plans to show elsewhere?

JP: American Cheerleader premiered on the festival circuit in October, screening at IndieMemphis, Dance On Camera at Lincoln Center and winning the audience award at Louisville International Film Festival.  The doc is screening at several festivals this Spring and Summer and is being distributed by FilmBuff.

AB: Every Body Hit Somebody recently screened at Images Festival in Toronto and photographs from the film were featured on the New York Times Lens Blog. Indie Grits will be its second festival screening.

Laura Kissel's Cotton Road Comes to Indie Grits by Abby Davis

Laura Kissel When asked what compelled her to make her film Cotton Road, a feature length documentary that takes the audience on a supply chain journey by following cotton from local South Carolina farms all the way to Chinese factories, Emmy nominated documentarian and professor at USC Laura Kissel explains it. “I wanted to know more about where our clothing comes from—what it takes to produce it, what the industrial processes and labor are like at each step, and why some clothing is so cheap. Why can we purchase a t-shirt for less than $10 when energy costs are high and when the raw materials to produce it have traveled thousands of miles? I am also deeply interested in other people, and so I wanted to make a film that tells this story from the point of view of workers in a typical cotton supply chain—farmers, truck drivers, migrant workers, etc. I wanted average workers to be the narrators, because they are voices we hardly ever hear from.”

Her ideas came together, and the film, which debuts in Columbia on Wednesday night as part of Indie Grits Film Festival, has already found great success and continues to do so. Cotton Road has screened at multiple festivals, universities, and community events around the country and even screened in Malaysia. Along the way, it picked up the Best Documentary award at the Beaufort International Film Festival, Best Documentary Feature at the Santa Monica Independent Film Festival, as well as four other awards.

Kissel says, “I’d like for audiences to think more deeply about where things come from and consider both our global connections to one another through the cycles of production and consumption that we participate in, as well as consider that there are human beings in supply chains…I hope people can be more mindful around consumption—particularly when it comes to clothing. Recycle what’s in your closet or if you really do need some new clothes, look for brands that have a strong commitment to transparency, a living wage, and sustainability…I’d like a nice mix of greater social awareness in a broader segment of the population.”

The documentary has sparked a variety of very practical viewer ideas including: making your own clothes, supporting local clothing producers and tailors, only purchasing clothes from secondhand and consignment stores, and stopping the mindless production of t-shirts for every single event.

If you enjoy Cotton Road, go ahead and get excited for Kissel’s next project. She says, “My next documentary will probably be a lot like Cotton Road. It will be a contemporary story, told by individuals who rarely get to speak in the national press in any significant way. I’d like to draw more attention to the growing gap between rich and poor and how this social reality physically structures and divides our communities. It will be in the style of Cotton Road—focusing on something seemingly mundane at first glance, but it will intensely reveal, over time, deeply entrenched social and political realities.”

Cotton Road is screening Wednesday, April 15th at 5:30pm during the opening night of Indie Grits Film Festival at the Nickelodeon Theater. For more information about the documentary, visit cottonroadmovie.com.

Preview: 2015 Indie Grits, Day 1

IG-Logo by: Wade Sellers

Has it been 12 months already? Indie Grits begins its ninth festival today offering Columbia more artistic variety in less time than any previous installment.

The Indie Grits Opening Night Party blasts off at Columbia Museum of Art and Boyd Plaza. Be the first in line to check out the movie theater in a shipping container known as the Mini Cine. The best part of the Mini Cine is that it is free. There will be bands, beer and the party never disappoints.


Cotton Road is the screening with the most buzz on the evening. Laura Kissel’s film follows the commodity of cotton from South Carolina Farms to Chinese factories to illuminate the work and industrial processes in a global supply chain. The film has been gaining momentum on the festival circuit and has been met with praise after screenings across the country. This is Cotton Road’s premier in Columbia. Kissel will be on hand for a Q&A after the screening. If you don’t have a ticket, try to reserve one right now because it is sure to sell out [Update: Yep, it's SOLD OUT].

5:30pm- Nickelodeon Theater 2.

If you need to get you’re indie film appetite sated before the party, head to the Nick and check out the Four Minute Film Frenzy5pm- in Nickelodeon Theater 1.

People Portraits is a collection of documentary shorts about, well, people. 7pm- Nickelodeon Theater 1.

Lost Colony is a narrative feature from North Carolina Filmmaker Christopher Holmes. Named after the infamous failed settlement on the Outer Banks in the late 16th century, Holmes' film promises to feature plenty of lingering shots of the Tar Heel State's shorelines as the film explores--or perhaps undermines--traditional coming-of-age story expectations. -Kyle Petersen; 8pm- Nickelodeon Theater 2.



You have no excuse not to grab an Indie Grits schedule at the opening party, but if you have a major league excuse you cannot attend, the festival lineup can be viewed in detail here.

Call for Submissions: The Vistovka Transporte Project, an Indie Grits Installation

273cd4_ae72c3345b6145828901f093b29f9e70 by: Abby Davis

Vistovka Transporte is a community driven arts installation coming to Indie Grits this year.  The project will use advertisements and public service announcements from the perspective of the city to illustrate how the people of Columbia view the future of public transportation.

Matt Tenebaum, the main brain behind Vistovka Transporte, says “It’s goal is to bring together these ideas under this year’s Indie Grits theme of future perfect and explore how people imagine an ideal Columbia, whether tomorrow or deep into a potential future.”

Borne from conversations with Andy Smith, executive director of the Nickelodeon, about doing a community-centered project that engaged with the festival’s theme, “Future Perfect,” the two eventually settled on the Vistoka Transporte idea. “We wanted a project that could get the community involved in the theme but also be a little satirical,” Tenebaum says. “When we discussed our mutual stories about biking and walking around Columbia, the idea to do the project about transportation began.”

The advertisements will be dispersed throughout the entire festival and placed in a way to make them look like natural advertisements done by the city. “We seek authenticity to both build the illusion that they are real and catch attention to the ideas they represent,” says Tenebaum.  A social media campaign will run simultaneously, serving both to draw attention to the ads and to explain the story behind them and the artists’ ideas for the future.

“Watching people think about issues or ideas that they feel strong about and then putting them into artistic form is a fascinating process,” Tenebaum continues. “Focusing that process towards a single subject reveals ideals and aspirations from many different people and paints its own picture of the community.  People want the city to be better; they aspire to live somewhere that has the things they want rather than just leave to somewhere that already has them.  They care, and for that reason I can’t wait to see what they have to say about their future perfect city.”

Submissions can be sent in through the website, vistovkatrasnporte.com or to vistovkatransporte@gmail.com.  Images need to be submitted as a jpg at a minimum of 300 dpi and cannot contain nudity or profanity.  Other than that, however, the project is open to a wide array of possibilities.  A sample list of potential subjects includes: “new or potential bike lanes, buses and bus routes, highway expansion, light rail, ride sharing programs, passenger tail lines, airport development and international terminal creation, super sonic air transportation, magnetic levitation trains, extra-orbital flights, space elevators, space ports, lunar travel, flights across the solar system, and interstellar travel.”

“One of the things I hope for the Vistovka to accomplish for the community is to draw those ideas into the fore.  The quality of them doesn’t matter in the face of simply putting them out there as inspiration for more,” concludes Tenebaum. “In many ways, the Vistovka really is just a textbook brainstorming session using Indie Grits as a white board.”

News & ARTIST CALL from Indie Grits

indie grits general Indie Grits Film Festival, the Southeast’s premier film and culture festival in Columbia, S.C. for DIY media-makers, will take place April 15-19, 2015, and for the first time, the festival will have a theme: “Future Perfect.” Additionally, 2015’s Indie Grits is calling for visual artists whose work will enhance Columbia’s public spaces during the festival for a multi-faceted exhibit, thanks to funding by an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.


The ninth annual Indie Grits, hosted by the Nickelodeon Theatre, South Carolina’s oldest art-house cinema located on Main Street in South Carolina’s capital city, will feature five full days of the best DIY short, experimental, animated and student film, music, food and outside-the-box artistic performances from South Carolina and the Southeast. Indie Grits has twice been named one of MovieMaker magazine’s Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World.


“Forty percent of attendees from last year’s Indie Grits lived outside of Columbia, and we want to do more to attract even more out-of-town participants,” said Seth Gadsden, co-director of Indie Grits Film Festival. “Our participant and attendance numbers are growing each year, but folks tell us again and again that they want to be able to attend more Indie Grits events while they’re in town. So a five-day format will concentrate all the events you’ve come to love about Indie Grits, plus some events we’re adding, like our brand-new call for artists. We’re hoping a jam-packed festival will mean that more people will bring a critical mass to downtown Columbia during Indie Grits.”


Indie Grits Calls for Visual Artists

Indie Grits 2015 will build on the artist-in-residence program sponsored by One Columbia for Arts and History, which began at 2014’s Indie Grits and brought artist Amanda Cassingham-Bardwell and her installation art to the festival. The artist-in-residence program will return to Indie Grits 2015, and thanks to an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the festival seeks proposals from artists inspired by the Future Perfect theme for the festival.


Indie Grits seeks installations, sculpture, video, photography, mixed media and any kind of art that speaks to the theme of the festival. Indie Grits will accept 15 – 25 artist applicants for exhibition at the festival. Indie Grits will provide accepted artists and collaborations with modest financial support to facilitate materials, shipping, installation and some other incurred costs, and projects will receive up to $1,000. Projects will be displayed throughout the 2015 festival in various locations downtown Columbia, including Tapp’s Center for the Arts. For more information and the application, visit indiegrits.com/submit/art.


As always, Indie Grits Film Festival will continue to focus on offering audiences opportunities to see the best new films coming from independent Southern filmmakers with a far-reaching, experimental scope during the festival. Additionally, festivalgoers will enjoy other favorite events like the Spork in Hand Puppet Slam, a concert at the Columbia Museum of Art and the Slow Food at Indie Grits Sustainable Chefs Showcase.


For more information on Indie Grits, visit www.indiegrits.com or contact Seth Gadsden, festival co-director at Seth@IndieGrits.com(803) 254-8324.

Indie Grits Review: The Great Flood, Screened at The Nick on Monday, April 14, 2014

cover One of the things that I have always loved about the film selections at Indie Grits is their desire to tell the stories about the South that have been pushed to the margins or swept under the rug, stories that can often feel jarring alongside the version of the region romanticized in Gone with the Wind or mocked in Bravo’s Southern Charm reality series. It’s a braver, weirder, and more exciting version of the South that Indie Grits is interested in, with a no-holds-barred examination of its past.

It’s fitting, then, that the first screening of the 2014 festival is of Bill Morrison’s The Great Flood, which looks at the devastating flooding of the Mississippi River over the course of the spring of 1927. It’s a beautiful and evocative film comprised almost exclusively of archival footage, much of which was pulled from the Fox Movietone collection housed at the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections. Morrison manages to tell a painterly version of the disaster, with no voice over and spare use of placards, that subtly yet powerfully captures its social, political, and racial effects.

The film begins with a CGI version of the flood that interlaces recreated overhead shots and maps before cutting to the newsreels, where there are dedicated sections to sharecroppers, the 1927 Sears Roebuck catalog, levee construction, evacuations, politicians exploiting the tragedy, the unnecessary dynamiting of the levees in the Poydras area, the aftermath, and the migration of African-Americans into northern cities. While Morrison elegantly constructs a compelling narrative from his occasionally disparate material, it’s the extensiveness and poignancy of the footage itself that really inspires—the different approaches these cameramen take when documenting the sharecroppers (some of which was surprising humanizing, although other moments felt like outtakes from Birth of a Nation), the deteriorated film from long takes shot shot from rescue boats, the repeated looks of bewilderment from folks, black and white, who are losing everything and being filmed as it happens. Much of it has a surprising aesthetic beauty and humanity that recalls the work of the best photojournalists, although there's often a sense of distance and objectivity that can be equally heartbreaking. At times it is difficult to tell whether the original takes have been manipulated a bit, as the water can seem too slow or too fast to be real, and the quality of the footage varies from remarkably detailed to quite grainy. Regardless, the constant shifting of material keeps the audience on their toes and fully engaged.

The film also benefits in large part, given the lack of words and explicit narrative, from the arresting score composed by guitarist Bill Frisell, which was worked out over a series of rough cuts shown in advance by Morrison and ultimately recorded live at a screening in Seattle. Mostly featuring Frisell’s signature tone manipulations and the languid trumpet and cornet playing of Ron Miles, as well as Tony Scherr on bass and Kenny Wollesen pulling double-duty on drums and vibraphone, the quartet mainly focuses on capturing the haunting spirit of much of the footage, although they build to more distorted and fiery climaxes when the physical film itself begins to get too degraded or stark, and they also provide a couple of sprightly jazz during two appropriate sections (the jauntily cynical politicians section and the rapid-cut sequence on the Sears Roebuck catalog).

While the film’s experimental nature means it likely won’t be for everywhere, it’s hard not to think about the power it holds as historical documentation and social and political argument. Whether paired with the study of literature from that time period like William Faulkner’s The Wild Palms or William Alexander Percy’s autobiography Lanterns on the Levee, or with the modern-day explorations of Hurricane Katrina or the impacts of global warming, Morrison’s work deserves a wider audience and further interrogation. –Kyle Petersen

Preview - Strength and Beauty - at Indie Grits tonight!

strength and beauty In the 90-plus minute long film, Strength and Beauty:  Three Ballerinas. Three Voices, filmmaker Chelsea Wayant focuses on three different dancers from Charlotte's North Carolina Dance Theatre, each at a different stage of her career. After 17 years of dancing, Tracy finds herself unable to perform some of the more challenging roles in her repertoire with the ease she once did. Alessandra, on the other hand, is just now beginning to be cast in those difficult roles. And Melissa, a contemporary ballet transplant, has just joined the company for her first season. We follow the women across two seasons with NCDT as they discuss many of the topics found most commonly on the minds of professional dancers:  body image, relationships, physical challenges, life outside of ballet, and inevitably, transitions.

A beautifully constructed film experience, Strength and Beauty provides both ballet-lovers and ballet novices an intimate look at the intellectual and emotional machinations of professional ballet dancers. The story arcs are well developed and executed, and the subjects are lovely and engaging. Some innovative camera work and the clever use of Super8  film during which each dancer performs what are clearly improvisational pieces makes for some of the most tender moments in the film.

Jasper advises you to check Strength and Beauty out tonight at 7 pm at the Nick. Following the film Jasper dance editor (and CCB soloist) Bonnie Boiter-Jolley, CCB principal dancer Regina Willoughby, filmmaker John Kirkscey, dancer Dylan G - Bowley, and Columbia Classical Ballet dancer Madeline Foderaro will be discussing the film as part of a panel led by Jasper editor Cindi Boiter.

7 - 9:30 pm at The Nick  -- Check out the Facebook event for even more info.


In Jasper Vol. 3, No. 4: Indie Grits - Cue Seth Gadsden

"The Indie Grits Film Festival returns for its eighth session this April 11th through the 20th in Columbia. Hosted by the Nickelodeon Theater, South Carolina's oldest art house cinema, what started as an intimate local independent film festival has skyrocketed to become one of what MovieMaker magazine has named one of the "Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World." Over the past seven years Indie Grits has established itself as the Southeast's premier film and culture festival by offering attendees a cross section of do-it-yourself media makers as well as annually expanding the festival to include elements of performance art, food, and music. ..." - Wade Sellers For the full story, check out page 38 of the magazine below:

In Jasper No. 3, Vol. 3: Feature - Filmmaker Steve Daniels

"The Old Columbia Speedway sits off Highway 321 in Cayce, South Carolina. Overgrown brush and trees hide the old asphalt track from plain view. A disjointed array of old Big Wheels and tricycles are strewn throughout the brush. They are painted and rigged to look like the bastard plastic and metal children of post apocalyptic automobiles. Next to the three wheeled destruction machines are a mish-mash of weapons, including golf balls with nails glued to them to look like road spikes, machetes, and axes. An old suitcase sits open on the ground, holding a variety of Super 8mm film cameras. To the right, a variety of snacks, crackers, and candles are spread on top of a fold-out table. A cooler sits open, full of ice,  bottled water, and sugar free Red Bulls. A low rising cement wall with newly painted black and white racing checkers divides the brush from the old asphalt track. Filmmaker Steve Daniels stands on the track, holding one of the cameras. He turns, then walks back towards the makeshift camp of his new film, M is for Marauder. ..." - Wade Sellers For the full story, check it out here:

Cinemovements Monday Night

Cinemovements Leave it to the good folks at Indie Grits to find all kinds of innovative ways to heighten our senses and help us appreciate the multiplicity of arts that surround us.

Case in point – Cinemovements, a collaboration between Indie Grits and the SC Philharmonic  coming up Monday night (doors at 7, concert/films at 8) at the very cool space by the river, 320 Senate Street.

Here’s how it will go down. The SCP will play original music by concert master Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian, who we wrote about previously in Jasper and who is an innovative composer in her own right, to accompany four films commissioned for this event.

Mary Lee Taylor Kinosian

Filmmakers for this year are Indie Grits alums Roger Beebe, Steve Daniels, David Montgomery, Gideon C. Kennedy & Marcus Rosentrater. (You might remember Steve Daniels from his award-winning 2011 film Dirty Silverware.)

The performance is made possible through a grant from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.

And here's a neat little blog post that we lifted from the Indie Grits website

$20 Seated / $10 standing


jasper listens

- Cindi Boiter, Jasper editor

Jasper's Fave Non-Film Part of Indie Grits? Spork in Hand Puppet Slam -- Hands Down!

  Lyon Hill - Self Portrait


It's no secret that Jasper is a big fan of Indie Grits -- we love independent film! And while we'd just as soon have a film festival that was about film and film only, we admire the way the good folks at IG try to incorporate the whole community in their special week. AND, we are crazy about one specific part of the festival, the Spork in Hand Puppet Slam.

Why? Lots'o reasons, but the strongest being the opportunity to see three of Columbia's most creative minds demonstrate their incredibly eclectic, innovative, and just plain out-there abilities. Lyon Hill, Kimi Maeda, and Paul Kaufmann.

(Jasper wrote about Lyon Hill here and Kimi Maeda here.)

(And is it true that the strangely brilliant Alex Smith is also involved this year? Yes? No? Somebody?)

We lifted the below information info from the Indie Grits website about these folks:

Lyon Hill lives with his wife, Jenny Mae, and their son, Oliver, in Columbia, SC. He has been a puppetmaker and puppeteer with the Columbia Marionette Theatre since 1997. His paintings and puppets have been shown in numerous galleries over the years and his puppet shows have been performed at regional and national puppet festivals. Three of his short films are part of Heather Henson's Handmade Puppet Dreams film series, which are shown internationally

Kimi Maeda

Kimi Maeda is a theatre artist whose intimate visual performances cross disciplines and push boundaries.  Trained as a scenic and costume designer whose work has been recognized nationally, she is drawn to the versatility of puppetry and delights in the fact that it allows her to explore all of her diverse interests; from science to storytelling.  Kimi worked for several years as a puppeteer and set designer for the Columbia Marionette Theatre, writing and directing Snow White and The Little Mermaid. Her shadow-puppet performances The Crane Wife and The Homecoming are original adaptations of traditional Japanese folktales interwoven with her own bi-cultural experience growing up as a Japanese-American.


Paul Kaufmann

Paul Kaufmann is an actor, writer and artist.  His acting credits include three productions at New York’s famed LaMaMa E.T.C.: The Cherry Orchard Sequel (2008, NY Times critic’s pick), The System (2009) and the title role in this year’s Hieronymus, all written by Obie Award winner Nic Ularu. With Mr. Ularu, Paul has also toured Romania in The System (2006). In 2010, he performed at the Cairns Festival in Queensland, Australia in Dean Poynor’s H. apocalyptus, a zombie survival tale. He has performed the same role in the Piccolo Spoleto Festival (2011) and at The Studios of Key West. Also at TSKW: One Night Stand: 3, 4 and 5. Recent roles at Trustus Theatre include Dan in Next to Normal, Charles Guiteau in Assassins, Bill Fordham in August: Osage County and all roles in I Am My Own Wife.  For pacific performance project/east, Paul played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2012) and Man in Pile in Mizu No Eki (The Water Station) (2010). A founding member of the SC Shakespeare Company, Paul has acted onstage, in television and in film (including Campfire Tales and Lyon Forrest Hill’s Junk Palace) for 40 years. His collages, assemblages and paintings have been exhibited at Anastasia and Friends gallery.  He’s thrilled to be a part of the Spork In Hand Puppet Slam. In May, Paul returns to Romania to perform at the Sibiu International Theatre Festival in a new production directed by Mr. Ularu.

To what they have to say above we'll just add this -- There is nothing like the experience of good adult puppetry theatre. It effects the viewer in ways that are personally, emotionally, and psychologically surprising. It can be intimate, evocative, and funny -- all in the same breath. It is touching and exhilarating. It can move you in ways you have never been moved before. It makes you laugh and it makes you think. Don't miss this beautiful experience.


Kimi Maeda

jasper watches


presented by Belle et Bête

Saturday, April 13th at 7pm & 9:30pm - $10 - Nickelodeon Theatre


-- Cindi Boiter, editor - Jasper Magazine

Dropped into the Middle of a Major Arts Month - What to Do Today, Tomorrow, Thursday and Friday

Hello Columbia Artists and Arts Lovers! I just got back a few hours ago from London and Ireland where the Bier Doc and I sucked up every last morsel of art we could cram into the two weeks we were there -- Five plays, three art museums including the very cool Hugh Lane in Dublin which houses the actual studio of Francis Bacon, three guided walks (Irish literary, history, and trad music), over 30 pubs, most with music - all with brew, and more sights and sounds and cliffs and sheep and ancient neo-lithic sites than I ever thought possible.

Francis Bacon standing in front of his Triptych

Yes, we got home exhausted, which is unfortunate, especially given the line-up of art and art experiences that April has in store for all of us. We're going to try to keep you posted via our Facebook page and this blog - What Jasper Says, but you should also pay close attention to the listings at One Columbia as well as at Indie Grits which kicks off Friday night with a smokin' hot  Block Party.

indie grits

Tonight, we recommend you join Yours Truly as I help out at the USC Art Auction at the Campus Room of the Capstone Building on the campus of USC. The auction starts at 7 with a lovely reception at 6.

(This guys knows not what he's doing and neither will I)

On Wednesday, we recommend you schedule yourself for the Closing Reception for Painted Violins from 5 - 8 at Gervais and Vine at 620 Gervais Street which benefits our beloved SC Philharmonic.

"She Used to Play the Violin" by Wayne Thornley

On Thursday, the highly successful (blushing) Jasper Salon Series returns with a presentation and discussion by local poet, author, and creativity coach, Cassie Premo Steele. We'll start out about 7 pm with drinks and chatting, then at 7:30 sharp, Cassie will begin the program.

Cassie Premo Steele

We'll be posting more sneak peeks at all the cool stuff going on this month just as soon as we unpack and get a day's work done. I'm looking forward to seeing you all where you ought to be -- smack in the middle of the Southeast's newest and hottest arts destination, Columbia, SC!



(note: not sure what happened to the previous version of this post which was missing most of its text. Oops & sorry!)


On the Road with the Nickelodeon -- Part 1 of a Guest Blog Series

Our Friends at the Nick have taken to the highway and are out on one of the greatest of American adventures - the ROAD TRIP! Happily, they're sharing their news from the road with us via the Jasper blog. Below is the first installation from the great adventurers' travel(b)log.

Hello Columbia!


It is a pleasure to be writing this from the road in Memphis, TN.  We would like to thank the wonderful staff at Jasper Magazine for allowing us to take over their blog for a little while. This week, Andy Smith, Heather Bauer, Claire Sumaydeng-Bryan and myself (Isaac Calvage) are currently on a tour of southeast film courtesy of a travel grant from the amazing people at Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC).  The goal of our trip is to gain some knowledge of how other film festivals of similar size are run (Indie Memphis and River's Edge Film Festival), and to learn how one of our favorite peer theaters works in Nashville (the Belcourt).  We are hoping this trip will provide valuable insight to make everything that happens at the Nickelodeon Theatre, a little bit better.  Here is a mini travelogue of our trip so far...

Our day kicked off at 6am out of Columbia.  We were very tired, and even had to get ourselves a pick up meal at Bojangles.

Which promptly had everyone asleep afterwards.


We then powered on to Birmingham, AL to meet up with Heather Bauer's friend and eat at the legendary Saw's Soul Food Kitchen.

Along the way to see Graceland Too, for which the proprietor was out, (sad face), we saw a sign that already had us homesick

After the initial disappointment, we finally pushed through to Memphis and checked into our hotel.

We then went to the Indie Memphis Film Festival and had the opportunity to see a film called SUN DON'T SHINE last night which stars Indie Grits alum, Kentucker Audley.  Today, we are going to try to go back to Graceland Too, so Andy Smith can become a lifetime member, like Hardy Childers (you have to go three times). Then we will continue our quest to see some other good films, and hopefully find a few that may even play at Indie Grits 2013.  What is next for the coming week?  Hopefully some more pictures with people, and a lot of new knowledge coming our way.

Until then, signing off from the Road,


         -Isaac Calvage, for the Nickelodeon Theatre

(ed. note: Tune in tomorrow for another installation in the travel(b)log of those wacky film aficionados - On the Road with the Nickelodeon, right here at What Jasper Said.)