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Southern Film Festival 2011: Screening Southern Literature

Lovers of great works of Southern literature and classic films are in for a treat. Starting Friday, February 25, the Second Annual VCU Southern Film Festival Presents “Screening Southern Literature” at the Grace Street Theater in Richmond. Established to explore how the distinctiveness of the South has been depicted on screen, the Festival features a diverse lineup of films based on classic works by Southern writers. Ranging from quirky and melodramatic to serious and exploitative, the films offer something for everyone.


Mary Badham, who played “Scout” in the film version of To Kill a Mockingbird, will have autographed copies of the book available at the SFF. Paperback are $30 & hardback are $50. She will be set up in the Grace Street Theater by 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26.  She will also be available after the film.

Detailed Schedule

All films will be screened at the Grace Street Theater at 934 West Grace Street in the heart of VCU. All events are FREE and open to the public. For further information, contact Dr. Emilie Raymond ( or 838-9809).

Thursday, February 24

6pm: Book reading and signing with Charles Shields

Fountain Book Store, 1312 East Cary Street, Historic Shockoe Slip

Friday, February 25

4 pm: Wise Blood (1979)

Based on the novel by Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood explores the Southern gothic world of religion through the obsessed preacher Hazel Motes, founder of The Church Without Christ. “A man don’t need justification,” Motes boasts, “if he’s got a good car.”

7 pm: In This Our Life (1942)

Based on Ellen Glasgow’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, In This Our Life dramatizes family betrayal and racial tension in the South. Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis won accolades for their strong performances as rival sisters, and the film was one of the first in Hollywood to portray an educated African-American character in a non-menial role.

Saturday, February 26

10 am: The Story of Temple Drake (1933)

Based on the novel Sanctuary by William Faulkner, The Story of Temple Drake skyrocketed the author to mainstream popularity. Miriam Hopkins portrays the hedonistic, pleasure-seeking Temple Drake, a young woman who embodies Southern decadence, as well as its demise. This film is currently unavailable on DVD.

1 pm: The Color Purple (1985)

A historical drama, based on Alice Walker’s popular novel, this film describes the bonding of Southern black women in early twentieth-century Georgia. Strong performances by Whoopie Goldberg, Margaret Avery, and Oprah Winfrey and beautiful visual depictions of the countryside make for an inspirational story about the triumph of the human spirit.

4 pm: A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)

Vivien Leigh plays Blanche Du Bois, a fading Southern belle who tries to salvage the last vestiges of her world of gentility from her animalistic brother-in-law, portrayed by Marlon Brando. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Tennessee Williams, the film won four Academy Awards and helped catapult Williams into one of the South’s literary lions.

4:30-5:30 pm: book signing by Charles Shields

VCU Barnes and Noble, 1111 West Broad Street

7 pm: To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

Concluding the festival, and marking the fiftieth anniversary of the novel, is the film To Kill a Mockingbird. Charles Shields, author of the New York Times best-seller Mockingbird: An Intimate Portrait of Harper Lee will explain how Lee converted the novel into a screenplay. Mary Badham, the actress who played the much-beloved character Scout, will discuss her experiences on the set of the film.

Based on Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-Prize winning novel, To Kill a Mockingbird focuses on the six-year-old Scout, daughter of a white lawyer who defends a black man falsely accused of rape in a Southern town during the Great Depression. Gregory Peck won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Atticus Finch, and Lee declared the film adaptation “one of the best translations of a book to film ever made.”