Danielle Beverly will be joining us with her film Old South. Here are some questions to let you get to know more about her!
What is your connection to the South?
As I toured my feature documentary Learning to Swallow on the southern circuit, I witnessed an appalling disparity as I drove though poor, rural, racially segregated southern towns. One image stuck out: the infant “onesies” emblazoned with a Confederate flag being hawked at a “Heritage Celebration” in a tiny South Carolina town. Instead of love and understanding, hate and divisiveness were being passed down. I vowed to make my next documentary in the South. For Old South I moved to the community in which I filmed, to be on the ground and capture the 3+ year struggle with sensitivity and nuance.
Where did you get your inspiration for this work?
A friend inspired Old South. She knows what I am committed to as a filmmaker, which are unfolding stories that have something at stake, but that I cannot foresee the outcome of until it happens. As a one-person crew I have to live cheaply, so I asked this particular friend from Athens, GA, “What is going on in your town?” (knowing I could live in her spare apartment for low rent). She replied “This thing has happened here, and you might want to come and check it out.” I flew there from San Francisco to research, and then moved to Athens shortly thereafter.
How did you start making films?
I actually have a degree in Public Health and 1/2 a Masters in it as well. But in the year between my first year and second year, I realized I didn’t want to wear a suit and pantyhose, even if I wanted to do something valuable for the world. So I quit my public health masters program and enrolled in film school. I’m drawn to images, to witnessing, and to letting the camera and those in front of it reveal the narrative. Filming as a solo crew forces me to be quiet and simply watch–a good thing.
Did anything interesting or funny happen on set during the shooting?
Indeed, a very interesting thing happened during the filming. I came across it as I was walking with my camera in the neighborhood. It ultimately provided a turning point in the narrative, and is the kind of surprise that only can come by being in a community for the long haul as a documentary filmmaker, rather than parachuting in. But I won’t tell you what it was. Folks will have to come to the screening.
What do you look forward to the most during Indie Grits?
I’m most looking forward to Cotton Road, a documentary by Columbia, SC resident and USC professor Laura Kissel. Her work is incredibly cinematic, with skillful and lush camerawork. Cotton Road has played all over the US, and now she is bringing the film to her own town. Everyone should go see this film, which follows cotton from the American South to China and back.
Why should someone see your film?
With expressions of racism happening on campuses weekly–including one at the University of South Carolina just last week–open and honest dialogue about race is very much needed, and in campus towns especially. Screenings across the American South over the last month have demonstrated that Old South can facilitate conversations about the modern South, race, and what it means to be a community. Post screening discussions have provided candid and sometimes difficult but healing reactions that have led to deeper understandings and stronger connections.