In focus: Southern Screen

A still of "On Her Shoulders," an award-winning film showing at Southern Screen this year.

Over the past two years, you might have noticed a few changes at Southern Screen.

For one, there’s the name. The “film festival” tag is gone. Now, it’s understood — if you go to Southern Screen, you’re going to see films. The logo has changed, too, into a camera that doubles as a play/pause button. One final change came as soon as last year when festival programming started to revolve around more than film.

The expansion is all about fine-tuning Southern Screen’s focus ring, according to Julie Bordelon, Southern Screen’s executive director/founder.

“We decided to make the event more about storytelling,” she says. “Film has always been our main focus, and it will probably stay that way. We’re doing a little bit at a time. We wanted to be a little more creative in what we were doing. As far as storytelling goes, there are so many other outlets. It is a way for us to keep it fresh.”

This year’s Southern Screen starts with a night of premieres from short film creation lab Kinomada on Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the Acadiana Center for the Arts, 101 W. Vermilion St. Events continue through Sunday, Nov. 11, across Downtown venues. For a full schedule, click here. Day passes are $15. Some events are special ticketed, ranging from $10-$20. Get more information here.

For its eighth go-round, Southern Screen will screen movies like the festival hit Blaze starring Ben Dickey, co-written and directed by Ethan Hawke, and shot right down the road around Baton Rouge. Other screenings include two features shot in Lafayette: You Might Be the Killer and Sunday Girl. Southern Screen will also showcase documentaries such as Buckjumping, On Her Shoulders, Rodents of Unusual Size, and Bending Lines: The Sculpture of Robert Wiggs.

Most of those features and shorts are tied to Louisiana in some way. While the festival is made of curated films and some submissions, the local feel is an added draw.

“When people see something is filmed in Lafayette, they love it,” Bordelon says. “People want to see something they recognize. When you have those local elements, a lot of people here will come out to see that. It’s fun for the filmmakers, too, because they get to see their work on the big screen.”

Southern Screen will also feature a table reading of the local short film Remember Freetown, from writer Monique Morton and Director Chris Jones; a book reading by Rien Fertel from his entry the 33 ⅓ series on Drive-By Truckers’ 2001 album Southern Rock Opera; workshops on podcasting, editing and lighting; and a roundtable discussion on making state grant money more accessible to local filmmakers.

With additional events catered to storytelling outside of film, Southern Screen’s awareness and footprint can grow even more. Still, Bordelon gets the question nearly every day: “We have a film festival in this town?” To which she replies, “Actually, we have two.”

“A lot of creating this festival was wanting to see certain films that don’t necessarily come here,” Bordelon says. “I felt like our community needed it. We were worth it. We wanted it and could support it.”

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