Film Series

Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers logo
Fall poster

All screenings will be held at the Roundhouse on JSU's campus.

Screenings begin at 7:00 PM.

This year we will offer the following screenings:

September 19 - Marjourn & the Flying Headscarf

October 24 - Love Them First

November 21 - While I Breathe, I Hope

February 20 - We Believe in Dinosaurs

March 19 - Mr. Handy's Blues

April 16 - Life Without Basketball

Films and Filmmakers on Tour

“This season’s films and filmmakers represent the voices and conversations occurring throughout our region and nation,” said Teresa Hollingsworth, program director. “They resonate with audiences and lead to impactful, sometimes challenging discussions of topics relevant to their communities.”

The Screening Partners convened in Atlanta for an annual gathering to curate films for the upcoming season. “We always say it’s like a fantasy football draft,” laughed Hollingsworth. “The Screening Partners know their communities very well and have spent countless hours reviewing all of the potential films under consideration.”

Filmmakers were invited to submit their work for consideration in early 2019. Recently completed animation, documentaries, experimental, fiction films, and shorts were considered.

From September through April, each Screening Partner presents the six films and filmmakers chosen by their circuit. Beyond a screening of the film, the filmmakers are made available to the local community for workshops, class visits, and discussions. The filmmakers also conduct a Q&A with audiences following the film screening to discuss the film’s subject and the filmmaking process.

The Southern Circuit is made possible through partnership with National Endowment for the Arts. A full listing of all screening dates, times, and locations will be posted later this summer on as well as each Screening Partner’s website.


About the Films

Marjoun and the Flying Headscarf
Touring with the film: Susan Youssef, Director and Hira Jafri, Producer
A teenager in Arkansas searches for identity in the headscarf and a motorcycle in the aftermath of her father's imprisonment. Set in 2006, the film explores the results of Arab and Muslim American detainment for “guilt by association.” The film links the civil rights struggle of Arab and Muslim Africans with that of African Americans through Marjoun's attendance of Little Rock’s Central High School, weaving her story into the lineage of the Little Rock Nine. How can Marjoun break free and find her own identity while struggling for acceptance?

Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary
Touring with the film: Lindsey Seavert and Ben Garvin, Directors
With unprecedented access over the course of a year, Love Them First: Lessons from Lucy Laney Elementary follows the determination of a charismatic north Minneapolis school principal, Mauri Melander Friestleben, as she sets out to undo history. Not only does Minnesota have the largest achievement gap between black and white children in the United States, Friestleben faced another seemingly impossible obstacle: Lucy Laney has sat at the bottom of the state's list of underperforming schools for two decades. Under Friestleben's leadership, standardized test scores from most black students began rising for the first time, but when the school encounters a heartbreaking setback, Friestleben confronts the true measure of student success at Lucy Laney. Love Them First is a story of inspiration, heartbreak, perseverance, and the power of love.

While I Breathe, I Hope
Touring with the film: Emily Harrold, Director
What does it means to be young, black, and a Democrat in the American SouthWhile I Breathe, I Hope follows South Carolina politician Bakari Sellers as he runs to become the first African American candidate elected statewide in over a century. The film begins by following Sellers as he makes his 2014 bid for Lieutenant Governor, through the Charleston Shootings, and during the removal of the Confederate flag in 2015. Through his experiences, this timely film offers audiences a window into the legacy of race in politics in the United States today.

We Believe In Dinosaurs
Touring with the film: Clayton Brown, Director/Producer
Amid protests and controversy, young-earth creationists build an enormous, $120 million “life-size” Noah’s Ark in rural Kentucky with the specific aim of proving that the Bible is scientifically and historically accurate. We Believe In Dinosaurs follows the building of the Ark from blueprints to Opening Day through the eyes of three Kentuckians. Doug, a gifted artist who creates lifelike animals for the Ark; Dan, a geologist and impassioned pro-science activist who blows the whistle on the Ark’s discriminatory hiring practices; and David, a young former creationist who mowed lawns to raise money for creationist causes in his youth. Shot over the course of four years, We Believe In Dinosaurs follows the Ark from blueprints to opening to aftermath and tells the story of the troubling relationship between science and religion in the United States.

Mr. Handy’s Blues
Touring with the film: Joanne Fish, Director
William Christopher Handy is a larger-than-life figure in American music history. For more than 100 years, he has been revered internationally as 'The Father of the Blues' but his story has never been told in documentary form until now. Mr. Handy’s Blues is an against-all-odds tale of family conflict, racial tensions, and redemption. Born the son of a preacher in post-Civil War Alabama, Handy rose to fame as one of the most beloved and prolific composers and music publishers of the 20th century. Ten years in the making, the film includes never-before-seen footage and photographs along with extensive rare audio and video recordings of W.C. Handy himself. Iconic Blues legends Taj Mahal and Bobby Rush appear in the film, which also features performances of Handy’s iconic songs (“St. Louis Blues”, “The Memphis Blues”, “Beale St. Blues”, and others).

Life Without Basketball
Touring with the film: Jon Mercer and Tim O’Donnell, Directors
Life Without Basketball takes us inside the world of Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir. As a record-breaking high school star and college athlete, her life as a basketball player had structure and a clear forward path. Bilqis was raised to follow the Quran and has been wearing hijab since the age of fourteen. She extends this practice onto the court as well, covering arms and legs underneath her uniform and wearing a tightly wrapped headscarf. When she began her college career in 2009, she became the first NCAA Division I athlete to do so. Her story attracted the attention of national media and later, the White House. Having just come off the best year of her college career at Indiana State, Bilqis began pursuing her goal to play professionally. At this point she was informed that FIBA (the international governing body for the sport) had a rule banning headscarves from international competition. The film explores the complex world of being Muslim in America, where family tradition and public perception are often at odds. The film examines layers of identity, radical change, and common nostalgia. After years of protest, FIBA revised their rule in May of 2017 and Bilqis became eligible to return to the court. Before a speaking engagement at the Global Forum for Sport and Human Rights in Geneva, Bilqis finally obtains an in-person meeting with the organization. Despite their lack of apology and willingness to offer support, she decides to pursue the game again on her own.


About South Arts
South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the artsSouth Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. For more information, visit