This film series, which takes place each summer, is designed to be an entertaining and critical introduction to the American South, and most films are accompanied by commentary from a topical expert. While intended especially for international students and scholars, the series is open to everyone. Many of the movies in this series are available at the Media Resources Center.

Previous films in the Southern Culture Movie Series

2017 Summer

Sponsored by The Summer School

In collaboration with The Writing Center

International Student and Scholar Services

The Center for the Study of the American South

The Media Resources Center

 

May 18

Raising Bertie [2016, 102 min]

Set in Bertie County, a rural African American-led community in Eastern North Carolina, Raising Bertie takes audiences deep into the emotional lives of three boys – Reginald “Junior” Askew, David “Bud” Perry, and Davonte “Dada” Harrell – over six-years as they come of age. Produced by Chicago’s internationally acclaimed Kartemquin Films (Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters), Raising Bertie, a powerful vérité film, movingly weaves the young men’s stories together as they try to define their identities, interconnecting narratives of family, youthful innocence, first love, systemic racism, educational inequity, poverty and unemployment, and the will to succeed in the face of formidable odds.

 

June 1

Voices of North Carolina: Language, Dialect, and Identity in the Tarheel State [2005, 57 min]

Voices of North Carolina chronicles the state’s diverse language traditions from the Outer Banks to the Southern Highlands. Cherokee and Lumbee Indians, rural and urban African-Americans, first language Spanish-speakers, and southerners of all walks of life lend their voices to a universal portrait of language and identity.

*Discussion facilitated by Dr. David Mora-Marin, UNC Department of Linguistics

 

June 15

First Language—The Race to Save Cherokee [2014, 56 min]

Over fourteen thousand Cherokee remain in their ancestral homelands in the mountains of North Carolina, but few among them still speak their native language. Recognizing its imminent loss, the Eastern Band of Cherokee are now taking extraordinary steps in a fight to revitalize the Cherokee language.

*In cooperation with the American Indian Center
*Discussion facilitated by Dr. Ben Frey, Department of American Studies

 

June 29

Tootie’s Last Suit [2009, 97 min]

When New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian Chief Tootie Montana decides to come out of retirement and make one last Mardi Gras Indian suit, conflict erupts between Tootie and his son Darryl, to whom he earlier bequeathed the title of Chief.

*Discussion facilitated by Dr. Kathy A. Perkins, UNC Department of Dramatic Art

 

July 13

A Man Named Pearl [2006, 78 min]

A Man Named Pearl tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar. It offers a message that speaks to respect for both self and others, and shows what one person can achieve when he allows himself to share the full expression of his humanity.

*Discussion facilitated by Dr. Nancy Easterling, UNC Botanical Gardens

2016 Summer

Sponsored by The Summer School

 

July 21

Looking for Ms. Locklear [2008, 57 min]

Using only word of mouth, two lifelong best friends and Internet comedians, Rhett & Link, embark on a search for the long-lost teacher of the first grade class where they met. Their journey leads them deep into the heart of a tribe of Native Americans, the Lumbee of North Carolina. Serendipitously, Rhett & Link arrive on the scene at the very climax of the tribe’s century-long political struggle for identity. In a day of mobile devices that allow for a multitude of superficial connections with other ‘users,’ the unforgettable characters in Looking for Ms. Locklear serve as a reminder that people have more to say than an email or text message can communicate.

 

July 7

Moving Midway [2007, 98 min]

When New York film critic Godfrey Cheshire returns home to North Carolina in early 2004 and hears that his cousin Charlie Silver plans to uproot and move the buildings of Midway Plantation, their family’s ancestral home, an extraordinary, emotional journey begins. Charlie’s plan is a controversial one within their extended family. Some fear the move will destroy Midway. Others worry about the reaction of the plantation’s ghosts, including Miss Mary “Mimi” Hinton, Midway’s eccentric owner when Charlie and Godfrey were kids. There’s another group who may be concerned too. Charlie says he was recently visited by a man who claimed that their family has a large, previously unknown African-American branch, due to a liaison between Midway’s builder and a plantation slave. Back in New York, Cheshire fortuitously encounters Dr. Robert Hinton, an NYU professor of African-American studies who says his grandfather was born a slave at Midway. While beginning a dialogue on the meaning of Midway from their very different perspectives, Cheshire and Dr. Hinton examine how the Southern plantation, a crucial economic institution in early America, generated a powerful, bitterly contested mythology that was at the center of a string of American cultural milestones.

*Discussion facilitated by Dr. Harry Watson, Atlanta Alumni Distinguished Professor of Southern Culture in the UNC Department of History

 

June 23

Voices of North Carolina: Language, Dialect, and Identity in the Tarheel State [2005, 57 min]

Voices of North Carolina chronicles the state’s diverse language traditions from the Outer Banks to the Southern Highlands. Cherokee and Lumbee Indians, rural and urban African-Americans, first language Spanish-speakers, and southerners of all walks of life lend their voices to a universal portrait of language and identity.

*Discussion facilitated by Dr. David Mora-Marín, Associate Professor in the UNC Department of Linguistics

 

June 9

Deep Run [2015, 75 min]

Executive produced by LGBTQ supporter Susan Sarandon and shot by first-time filmmaker Hillevi Loven, Deep Run is a powerful verité portrait of trans life in rural North Carolina. Exiled by her family and rejected by an ex, 17-year-old Spazz has no one to lean on for support. But when Spazz falls in love again and summons up the courage to become Cole, a strong-willed trans man, his candid humor and steadfast, all-inclusive Christian beliefs counter the bigotry he experiences daily. This intimate documentary reveals rebirth and courage within America’s deeply conservative Bible Belt.

*Discussion facilitated by Alaina Kupec, board co-chair for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

 

May 26

Miss Nancy Minds Their Manners [2010, 53 min]

Miss Nancy Minds Their Manners is an earnest and heartfelt documentary film that follows 79 year old “Miss Nancy” Rascoe through the engaging task of teaching manners to children in her 200 hundred year old home in rural Hertford, NC. It’s a five day and four night summer etiquette camp like no other and the mix of activities are all rich with Miss Nancy’s true Southern gentility and grace from an era gone by.

*Discussion facilitated by Dr. Patrick Horn, Associate Director of the Center of the Study of the American South

 

May 12

A Will for the Woods [2013, 102 min]

What if our last act could be a gift to the planet? Determined that his final resting place will benefit the earth, musician, psychiatrist, and folk dancer Clark Wang prepares for his own green burial while battling lymphoma. The spirited Clark and his partner Jane, boldly facing his mortality, embrace the planning of a spiritually meaningful funeral and join with a compassionate local cemetarian to use green burial to save a North Carolina woods from being clear-cut.

With poignancy and unexpected humor, A Will for the Woods portrays the last days of a multifaceted advocate – and one community’s role in the genesis of a revolutionary movement. As the film follows Clark’s dream of leaving a legacy in harmony with timeless cycles, environmentalism takes on a profound intimacy.

*Special thanks to Bullfrog Films and Bullfrog Communities for making this showing possible

 

2015 Spring

Sponsored by International Student and Scholar Services

 

April 16

Homegoings

Through the eyes of funeral director Isaiah Owens, the beauty and grace of African-American funerals are brought to life. Filmed at Owens Funeral Home in New York City’s historic Harlem neighborhood, Homegoings takes an up-close look at the rarely seen world of undertaking in the black community, where funeral rites draw on a rich palette of tradition, history and celebration. Combining cinéma vérité with intimate interviews and archival photographs, the film paints a portrait of the dearly departed, their grieving families and a man who sends loved ones “home.”

 

March 26

Miss Nancy Minds Their Manners

Miss Nancy Minds Their Manners is an earnest and heartfelt documentary film that follows 79 year old “Miss Nancy” Rascoe through the engaging task of teaching manners to children in her 200 hundred year old home in rural Hertford, NC. It’s a five day and four night summer etiquette camp like no other and the mix of activities are all rich with Miss Nancy’s true Southern gentility and grace from an era gone by.

*Discussion facilitated by Dr. Anna Krome-Lukens, Lecturer in the Departments of History and Public Policy

 

January 29

Cedars in the Pines: The Lebanese in North Carolina

Cedars in the Pines represents the first in a series of cultural projects undertaken by the Khayrallah Program for Lebanese-American Studies to research, document, preserve and publicize the history of the Lebanese-American community in North Carolina. … [It] combines interviews with first-, second- and third-generation Lebanese-Americans in NC, along with records found in the US Census, historical societies, churches, and research libraries as well as in family albums. Capturing oral histories of the Lebanese community, this documentary weaves an intimate narrative of immigration, family and memory.

 

2014 Fall

Sponsored by International Student and Scholar Services

 

November 20

The Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend

This Emmy-winning, high-definition film documents a group of internationally-acclaimed African-American quiltmakers from Gee’s Bend, Alabama. Their compositions have been hailed by Michael Kimmelman of The New York Times as “some of the most miraculous works of modern art America has produced.” The Quiltmakers of Gee’s Bend explores the extraordinary lives, inspirations, and history of these artists, and also follows them on a touching bus journey to see their quilts exhibited at The Milwaukee Art Museum.

*Discussion by Bernard Herman, Chair and George B. Tindall Professor of American Studies

*Additional resources provided by Ackland Art Museum

 

October 2

Soul Food Junkies

Through candid interviews with soul food cooks,‭ ‬historians,‭ ‬and scholars,‭ ‬as well as doctors,‭ ‬family members,‭ ‬and everyday people,‭ ‬Soul Food Junkies blends history,‭ ‬humor,‭ ‬and heartwarming stories to place this culinary tradition under the microscope.‭ ‬Both the consequences and the benefits of soul food are carefully addressed.‭ ‬So too is the issue of low access to quality food in black communities,‭ ‬which makes it difficult for some black people to eat healthy.‭ ‬In the end,‭ ‬Hurt determines whether or not black people are addicted‭ ‬to this food tradition that has its origins in West Africa and the black south,‭ ‬yet is loved all over the world.

*Discussion by Sharon Holland, Associate Chair and Professor of American Studies

*Additional resources provided by Campus Health and the School of Public Health Nutrition Coalition

 

September 4

Looking for Ms. Locklear

Using only word of mouth, two lifelong best friends and Internet comedians, Rhett & Link, embark on a search for the long-lost teacher of the first grade class where they met. Their journey leads them deep into the heart of a tribe of Native Americans, the Lumbee of North Carolina. Serendipitously, Rhett & Link arrive on the scene at the very climax of the tribe’s century-long political struggle for identity. In a day of mobile devices that allow for a multitude of superficial connections with other ‘users,’ the unforgettable characters in Looking for Ms. Locklear serve as a reminder that people have more to say than an email or text message can communicate.

*Introduction by Candice Locklear, Miss Lumbee 2014-2015

*Organized in conjunction with the American Indian Center and American Indian and Indigenous Studies

 

2014 Summer

Sponsored by The Summer School

 

July 31

North Carolina’s Dependence on Tobacco

Tobacco has a long and evolving legacy in North Carolina. People defend the golden leaf for the economic power it brings the state. Others criticize it for the serious health problem smoking tobacco can cause.

&

The Guestworker

On a hot, soggy day on a farm in North Carolina, 12 men sit on a porch watching the rain wash away another day’s work, another day’s wages. One of those men, 66 year-old Candelario, has been coming to the United States for 40 years, harvesting our crops and trying to provide for his family. Without benefits, without retirement, he battles against the elements, his own age, and the backbreaking work, returning to this farm year after year as, The Guestworker.

Trailer

*With special introduction by Joshua Hinson, Clinical Instructor in the School of Social Work and Program Director of the Graduate Certificate in Global Transmigration

 

July 24

Family Name

This winner of the 1997 Sundance Freedom of Expression Award follows filmmaker Macky Alston from New York to the South, as he embarks on an excavation to unearth the history of his white slave-owning family, and explores the link to the black families that shared his name.

*With special introduction by Charlene Regester, Associate Professor in the Department of African, African American and Diaspora Studies

 

July 17

The Queen Family: Appalachian Tradition and Back Porch Music

This toe-tapping documentary listens in on the Folk’s “first family” at their Appalachian home. Singing from their own back porch in western North Carolina, the Queens embody an impressive aural tradition that finds its ancestors in England, Scotland and Ireland and its descendants in gospel, bluegrass and country music.

Trailer

 

July 10

Tootie’s Last Suit

When New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian Chief Tootie Montana decides to come out of retirement and make one last Mardi Gras Indian suit, conflict erupts between Tootie and his son Darryl, to whom he earlier bequeathed the title of Chief.

Trailer

*With special introduction by Joseph Jordan, Director of the Sonya Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History

 

June 26

February One

Based largely on first hand accounts and rare archival footage, the new documentary film February One documents one volatile winter in Greensboro that not only challenged public accommodation customs and laws in North Carolina, but served as a blueprint for the wave of non-violent civil rights protests that swept across the South and the nation throughout the 1960’s.

*With special introduction by Rebecca Cerese, film producer

 

June 20

Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina

Jews have been integral to North Carolina’s emergence as a progressive New South society. This richly textured documentary consists of oral histories, interviews with noted historians, rarely seen photographs and engaging re-enactments – that bring to life over 300 years of Jewish North Carolina history.

*With special introduction by Leonard Rogoff, research historian of the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina

*This film is part of a program by the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina.

 

June 12

A Man Named Pearl

A Man Named Pearl tells the inspiring story of self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar. It offers a message that speaks to respect for both self and others, and shows what one person can achieve when he allows himself to share the full expression of his humanity.

Trailer

*With special introduction by Elizabeth Barnum, Director of International Student and Scholar Services
*Visit the Pearl Fryar Topiary Garden in Bishopville, SC.

 

June 5

A Village Called Versailles 

Tucked away on the eastern edge of New Orleans, a community of Vietnamese refugees has thrived for 30 years in a neighborhood they call Versailles. A Village Called Versailles recounts how the residents successfully fought against the opening of a toxic government-imposed landfill after Hurricane Katrina struck and subsequently transformed their neighborhood.

Trailer

*With special introduction by Jennifer Ho, Associate Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature

&

The Shrimp

The Shrimp is a lush visualist’s documentary that follows the life cycle of a shrimp along the marshes of Savannah, Georgia. Beautifully etched images and a canny audio soundtrack create a rich observational work about Southern culture, human folly and the interplay of natural and built environments.

 

May 29

Voices of North Carolina: Language, Dialect, and Identity in the Tarheel State

Voices of North Carolina chronicles the state’s diverse language traditions from the Outer Banks to the Southern Highlands. Cherokee and Lumbee Indians, rural and urban African-Americans, first language Spanish-speakers, and southerners of all walks of life lend their voices to a universal portrait of language and identity.

Trailer

*With special introduction by Walt Wolfram, William C. Friday Distinguished Professor of English at North Carolina State University

 

May 22

DOUBLETIME

Jump roping has moved off the sidewalks and onto the stage. DOUBLETIME follows two disparate teams –one suburban white and one inner-city black– as they train to compete against each other for the very first time.

Trailer

*Check out Chapel Hill’s Bouncing Bulldogs for yourself!