Backup-Southern Circuit Film Series

Presented by Indie Memphis and sponsored by the University of Memphis Department of Communication. Additional support provided by ArtsFirst and the First Tennessee Foundation. 2015 screenings are presented in collaboration with Hattiloo Theatre.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers presents six independent documentary films from September through April – each with the filmmaker in attendance for a post-screening conversation with the audience about the film and their work.

2014-2015 Southern Circuit screenings:  (see below for film details)

  • 9/24/14 - MY TOXIC BACKYARD @ Studio on the Square
  • 10/15/14 - VALENTINE ROAD @ Studio on the Square
  • 11/12/14 - GOOD OL' FREDA @ Studio on the Square
  • 2/25/15 - THE NEW BLACK @ Hattiloo Theatre
  • 3/11/15 - OLD SOUTH @ Hattiloo Theatre
  • 4/22/15 - A KIND OF ORDER @ Hattiloo Theatre

Tickets are $8 each / $6 for Seniors / Free for Indie Memphis members and students with valid ID. (See below for ticket purchase links.) Not already an Indie Memphis member or need to renew? Click here.

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is a program of South Arts. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information, visit

My Toxic Backyard

7 pm Wednesday, Sept. 24 @ Studio on the Square

director Katie Damien will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening

Toxic waste is closer than you think.

What if you found out you had cancer, then you discovered your well water was contaminated, then you tried to sue the company responsible, but couldn't?  Then you fought to get the site cleaned up and nothing happened?  Then you tried to sell your house, but no one wanted to buy it?  What would you do?  What could you do?

My Toxic Backyard chronicles a community's fight to get clean drinking water and see the chemicals, still leaking into their groundwater, cleaned up.

ABOUT THE ATTENDING FILMMAKER: Katie Damien is an award-winning filmmaker with a Bachelor of Arts in film production from the University of Central Florida. She was born and raised in Florida and is currently living in Asheville, North Carolina. Katie has been awarded various accolades at film festivals. She has also won five Southeast Regional Emmy Awards, including writing and directing. Katie does commercial production as well as independent film work. This is her first feature film.


Official trailer


Valentine Road

7 pm Wednesday, Oct. 15 @ Studio on the Square

director Marta Cunningham will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening

At the height of the bullying scandal that rocked the U.S. in 2008, a 15-year-old boy named Larry King asked another boy to be his valentine in a suburban schoolyard in California. The next day Larry was dead, shot in cold blood by his 14-year-old crush Brandon McInerney. At turns shocking, devastating, and outrageous, Valentine Road bores deeply into the homophobia, sexism, racism, and class-struggle that affect everyday American life – and reveals an American justice system that is utterly unprepared to deal with the realities of teenage crime and punishment.

Directed by first-time feature documentarian Marta Cunningham, Valentine Road is an unforgettable exposé of society’s pervasive and deadly intolerance of young people who don’t conform to its gender “norms.” The film, which world premiered at Sundance in 2013, will both break your heart and fire you up into action.

ABOUT THE ATTENDING FILMMAKER: Marta Cunningham is an accomplished actor turned first-time filmmaker. At the age of 14, Cunningham danced with the company at The Peninsula Ballet Theater. She was awarded the prestigious Baker Scholarship at Georgetown University, where she studied English Literature. She then moved to Los Angeles where she worked as an actress, writer, dancer, and choreographer before focusing on directing and producing. She is currently in pre-production on multiple narrative films and one documentary.


Official trailer


Good Ol' Freda

7 pm Wednesday, Nov. 12 @ Studio on the Square

The Beatles' Freda Kelly and producer Kathy McCabe will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening

Freda Kelly was just a teenager when she was asked to work for a local band hoping to make it big. Though she had no concept of how far they would go, Freda had faith in The Beatles from the beginning, and The Beatles had faith in her.

History notes that The Beatles were together for 10 years, but Freda worked for them for 11. Many people came in and out of the band’s circle as they grew to international stardom, but Freda remained a staple because of her unfaltering loyalty and dedication. As the Beatles’ devoted secretary, Freda was there as history unfolded; she was witness to the evolution – advances and setbacks, breakthroughs and challenges – of the greatest band in history.

In Good Ol’ Freda, Freda tells her stories for the first time in 50 years. One of few documentaries with the support of the living Beatles and featuring original Beatles music, the film offers an insider perspective on the beloved band that changed the world of music.

ABOUT THE ATTENDING FILMMAKER: Kathy McCabe is an award-winning photographer and Beatles expert with widespread experience in the music industry. She has worked as a publicist and manager, a music video and album producer, and also a recording studio manager. She was a publicist and marketer for Pelada and initiated and engineered the production of Good Ol’ Freda.


Official trailer


The New Black

7 pm Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015 @ Hattiloo Theatre

director Yoruba Richen will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening

Faith, Family and the Fight for Equality.

The New Black is a documentary that tells the story of how the African-American community is grappling with gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights. The film documents activists, families and clergy on both sides of the campaign to legalize gay marriage and examines homophobia in the black community’s institutional pillar—the black church. The New Black reveals the Christian right wing’s strategy of exploiting this phenomenon in order to pursue an anti-gay political agenda.

The New Black takes viewers into the pews and onto the streets and provides a seat at the kitchen table. It tells the story of the historic fight to win marriage equality in Maryland and charts the evolution of this divisive issue within the black community.

ABOUT THE ATTENDING FILMMAKER: Yoruba Richen is a documentary filmmaker who has directed and produced films in the U.S. and abroad. Her latest film, The New Black, premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, won Audience Awards at AFI Docs, Philly Q Fest and Frameline LGBT Film Festival. In 2007, Richen won a Fulbright Award in filmmaking and traveled to Brazil, where she began production on Sisters of the Good Death, a documentary about the oldest African women's association in the Americas and the annual festival they hold celebrating the end of slavery. She is a 2014 featured TED Speaker and a Guggenheim Fellow, and is currently Director of the Documentary Program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.


Official trailer


Old South

7 pm Wednesday, March 11, 2015 @ Hattiloo Theatre

director Danielle Beverly will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening

Two Southern communities steeped in history – one black, one white – collide while striving to keep their respective legacies relevant in a changing America.

When Kappa Alpha (KA), an elite, white fraternity at the University of Georgia, buys and demolishes houses on one block in a historic African-American neighborhood, the black community becomes agitated.  For the black community, the KA organization symbolizes the old South - an annual antebellum parade, the flying of the Confederate flag, and loud parties with beer bottles littering the neighborhood.  In many Southern towns, centuries of racism have created a thorny coexistence between black and whites, poor and wealthy.  Can change truly happen?  Or do we simply keep our biases behind closed doors?  

Old South will open dialogue, revealing that there are often no easy solutions.

ABOUT THE ATTENDING FILMMAKER: Danielle Beverly's first feature, Learning to Swallow, premiered at Silverdocs and toured with Southern Circuit in 2005. Beverly is a Nohl Artists Fellowship, a Flaherty Seminar Fellowship and has received grants from the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, the Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund, NYSCA and the Puffin Foundation.  In 2014 she was awarded a BAVC National MediaMaker Fellowship for Old South.  She also teaches documentary filmmaking (most recently at Marquette University and The University of Notre Dame) and works as a documentary cameraperson.

7 PM Wednesday, April 22, 2015 @ Studio on the Square

A Kind of Order

director Noel Schwerin will be in attendance for a Q&A after the screening

A Kind of Order follows a warden, a white separatist and a black gangbanger for seven years as they struggle to move beyond the stark reality of America's prison racial order.  Challenged for the first time by a U.S. Supreme Court desegregation ruling and a novel multi-race program, their stories reveal the institutional nature of racial hierarchies and the hope and hidden risks of transformative change.  

A Kind of Order draws people past fear to experience prison directly, to bear witness to the impact of incarceration policies, and to invite scrutiny about the role of race and power in our "locked down" society, where one in 99 Americans spends time behind bars.

ABOUT THE ATTENDING FILMMAKER: Noel Schwerin has written, produced and directed award-winning films, including two national PBS primetime specials: Bloodlines, which was used by the U.S. Senate, the National Association of Women Judges and the Federal Judicial Center, winning top honors at the National Association of Science Writers and the Association of Women in Communications; and the two-hour A Question of Genes, which won a special citation in CPB’s Report on Public Broadcasting and The Needs of Minority and Diverse Audiences.