When Robbie Fisher, president of Jackson’s Crossroads Film Society, traveled to Atlanta in May, she was tasked with selecting six independent films to share with Jackson movie lovers. Though the decision wasn’t easy, she chose from the 18 films available for The Southern Circuit, a program that brings the best independent films to communities across the South.

“They were all amazing,” Fisher said. “It was difficult to choose just six.”

The independent filmmakers will accompany their work to Jackson. Each film screening is free and post-screening discussions will engage audiences with the filmmakers.

The Southern Circuit is a project of South Arts, a nonprofit organization founded in 1975 in Atlanta. South Arts’ purpose is to build on the unique heritage of the South and enhance the public’s view of the arts.

“Our 2016-2017 slate of Southern Circuit films includes thought-provoking documentaries and inspiring dramatic narratives,” said Teresa Hollingsworth, senior director of film and traditional arts for South Arts. “Audiences will discover the work of an incredible group of filmmakers.”

For several years, the Southern Circuit showed films at Millsaps College in Jackson, but according to Fisher, professors and others on campus who were involved in the screenings moved away and the series left Jackson in 2010-2011.

A three-way partnership between Millsaps, Crossroads Film Society and the Mississippi Film Office has allowed the series to make its way back to the Capital City, Fisher said.

Millsaps will host five of the films, with Tougaloo College as a partner for a screening in November.

TYRUS will kick off the series Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at Millsaps. The film tells the unlikely and inspiring story of a 105-year-old Chinese American painter, Tyrus Wong. Filmmaker Pamela Tom chronicles how Wong overcame poverty and racism to become a celebrated modernist painter, a Hollywood sketch artist and a “Disney Legend” for his groundbreaking work on the classic animated film Bambi.

TYRUS premiered last year at the 42nd annual Telluride Film Festival and garnered audience awards at the San Diego Asian Film Festival and the Hawaii International Film Festival.

“We are so fortunate to have the opportunity to screen this film in Jackson, and to have the director, Pamela Tom, in attendance for a question and answer session after the screening,” Fisher said.

The film will be shown in the Gertrude C. Ford Academic Complex in room 137 on the Millsaps campus.

Five more films will be shown through spring 2017. Next up on Oct. 12 is Almost Sunrise, a film by Michael Collins that follows the transformative journey of two young veterans of the Iraq war on an epic trek across the United States as they struggle to regain their humanity and resist the pull of suicide.

On Nov. 9, 6 Angry Women will screen in the auditorium of the Bennie G. Thompson Academic and Civil Rights Research Center at Tougaloo College. Filmmaker Kridhar Reddy presents the jury deliberation of six women, strangers brought together by their civic duty, who are seeking to do the right thing in the aftermath of an unarmed African American teenager being shot and killed by a white neighborhood watchman.

On Feb. 8, 2017, the series returns to Millsaps with the screening of Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw. In this film, Rick Goldsmith tells the story of basketball great Chamique Holdsclaw, including her rise to WNBA stardom, her struggle with mental illness and the strength she called upon to speak out about it.

The next film is Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, scheduled for March 15 at Millsaps. Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack tackled the first feature documentary to tell the story of the American poet, memoirist and civil rights activist.

The final film of the series, scheduled for April 5 at Millsaps, is The If Project. Filmmaker Kathlyn Horan follows a group of women incarcerated in a maximum-security prison who are part of a writing workshop co-created by a Seattle police detective and a repeat offender serving a nine-year sentence.

“It’s a tremendous opportunity for us to partner with organizations outside of Millsaps to bring people to campus for these important cultural offerings,” said John Sewell, Millsaps’ director of communications. “Millsaps has partnered with Crossroads with sponsorships in the past, and we are excited about this opportunity to partner with them again to bring such interesting films to the Jackson area.”

For information on each film, including trailers, visit http://www.southarts.org/touring-arts/southern-circuit/2016-17-tour-schedule/. For information on the screenings, contact Robbie Fisher at 601-941-1865.

Heroes in independent film series are both super and real

Susan Marquez

Susan has been writing professionally for newspapers, magazines, business journals and trade publications from her home in Madison for 13 years. She particularly enjoys writing stories about colorful people, interesting places and fun events in the South, especially when they have anything to do with food. She recently was accepted into the Association of Food Journalists and is passionate about knowing where our food comes from and how it’s prepared. “I see food as a lens through which we can view our region.”