, the Nickelodeon's
popular film festival, now in its fifth year, started Thursday night with a kick off party at 701 Whaley
Walking into the ballroom, I couldn’t help but notice the floor with familiar street names marked out in masking tape, forming a sort of map of Columbia
beneath my feet. Around the room displays, some scale models of buildings around town, marked the festival’s various venues.
The party décor drove home the fact that for 10 days Indie Grits will be taking over Columbia with a wide array of arts events. Indie Grits has grown into so much more than “just” the coolest film festival in the south. This year the festival’s umbrella covers concerts, arts and crafts, studio tours, theatrical performances and even great events in the culinary arts.
The star of the festival, however, is still the movies. Indie Grits mission is to highlight films by Southern filmmakers or films about the South, but beyond that the range of styles and types of movies is astounding.
On Saturday I spent a full afternoon at the movies, which started with Soldier Girl, a short documentary about South Carolina’s female veterans by recent Artist of the Week Cathy Brookshire
. The screening elicited laughs of recognition from the female vets in the audiences, many of whom were featured in the film. But even in its 30 minutes, the movie finds time to explore the light and dark sides of the unique struggles of being a female in the armed forces.
Next up was a collection of student shorts, each one showcasing the individual student’s unique vision. South Carolina native Jordan Wilson directed an eerie, experimental short about the decaying mill towns around Spartanburg
. Cara Clark
beautifully explored the creative process in her documentary Moving Minds about choreography students in her MFA program at UNC Greensboro. Old Woman, by Emily Shipp
of Columbia, has been chosen to be a part of the Cannes Film Festival’s student film selection.
The final slot of the day included the short Whirlwind by Owen Hamilton of Manning, a story of infatuation and fate set in what the filmmaker called a nameless city; and Taken In, a father-daughter story whose location will be familiar to anyone who has traveled the Interstate 95 corridor. The entire film takes place over a weekend spent in the iconic South of the Border. The film, by Chris White
, features great performances by the actors who, apparently, improvised much of their dialogue.
The Indie Grits Film Festival runs through April 29. For a full schedule of films, as well as information on partner events, visit www.indiegrits.com