Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

SFF 2016: Screening Southern Women

Founded in 2010 to explore how the distinctiveness of the South has been portrayed onscreen, the Southern Film Festival brings together films and those involved in their making with constructive commentary.

For more information, please contact

All events are free unless otherwise noted.

The 2016 Southern Film Festival will take place September 15- 19, 2016. Our theme this year is Screening Southern Women. Films include:

Thursday, September 15

6 p.m.: Bastard out of Carolina (1996)

at Harris Hall Auditorium

Featuring special guest, author Dorothy Allison. Moderated by Elizabeth Canfield.

Based on the award-winning novel of the same name, Bastard Out of Carolina is the semi-autobiographical account of “Bone,” a young girl growing up in poverty in Greenville, South Carolina in the 1950s and haunted by her illegitimate status and abusive step-father.  This powerful film explores themes of poverty, sexuality, and abuse in the American South.  It stars Jennifer Jason Leigh and was directed by Anjelica Huston.

Free popcorn provided!

Friday, September 16

6 p.m.: The Life and Times of Elizabeth Keckly (2014)

at VMFA Auditorium

Featuring special guest, filmmaker Tim Reid. Moderated by Kimberly Brown. Additional Panelist: Elvatrice Belsches, a researcher and writer on the film.

“I know what liberty is because I know what slavery was.”  Elizabeth Keckly

Elizabeth Keckly, born enslaved in Virginia, supported herself as a seamstress and dressmaker, and amassed $1,200 to purchase her freedom.  After moving to Washington, DC in 1860, Keckly soon developed an elite clientele among the women of the nation’s capital. Her dressmaking skills brought her to the attention of First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln.  She became the First Lady’s favorite dressmaker and personal confidante, and established a relief organization for freedmen and injured black soldiers.  Directed and produced by the filmmaker Tim Reid, this documentary explores Keckly’s extraordinary life against the national crisis of the Civil War.

Monday, September 19

4 p.m.: VCU Student, Alumni, and Faculty Filmmakers Showcase

at Grace Street Theater

Moderator: Mary Beth Reed

6 p.m.: Christmas Wedding Baby (2014)

at Grace Street Theater

With special guest, writer/director Kiara Jones. Moderator: Brandi Summers.

A bride to be discovers that her first love has been hired as her wedding photographer, while her two sisters reach similar crossroads in their personal and professional lives.

Christmas Wedding Baby explores the distance between the perception of happiness and actual joy.  Through these three women and their eccentric mother, it questions the societal definitions of success and reevaluates the roles and responsibilities of today’s woman.  It also examines the depth of passion and commitment of men who are often struggling and confused in this gender non-specific landscape.  There are no villains in this film, just men and women who love each other, yet somehow fail terribly at communicating their emotions.

Shot on location in the director’s hometown of Jacksonville, Florida and funded through a Kickstarter campaign, Christmas Wedding Baby is a touching story with a stellar cast, and an inspirational example of independent filmmaking in the current media landscape.