The MFA Program in Documentary Expression welcomes filmmaker Alexander Glustrom as its Visiting Documentarian for Spring 2021. Glustrom has directed, shot, produced, and edited a wide variety of film projects ranging from commercial, music, and art videos that have reached hundreds of thousands online, to documentaries that have been featured in film festivals internationally. He has shot footage that has aired on HBO, CNN, Fusion, NYtimes.com, Great Big Story and Democracy Now. He has also created a number of fundraising videos that have raised thousands of dollars for New Orleans youth programs. Glustrom’s first feature film was the award-winning documentary, “Big Charity” which he directed, shot, produced and edited.
His second feature documentary and the one he will screen on Monday, April 5, Mossville has won more than fifteen awards at festivals around the world and is currently broadcasting nationally on PBS and is scheduled to be shown to the United Nations in Geneva in Spring of 2021.
Mossville, Louisiana is a shadow of its former self – a community rich in natural resources and history, founded by formerly enslaved people, where neighbors lived in harmony, insulated from the horrors of Jim Crow. Today, however, Mossville no longer resembles the town it once was. Surrounded by 14 petrochemical plants, Mossville is the future site of apartheid-born South African-based chemical company Sasol’s newest plant – a $21.2 billion project and the largest in the western hemisphere.
The community struggles to let go of their ancestral home – and at the center of it all is a man named Stacey Ryan. Stacey is 48 years old and a lifelong resident of Mossville. In the past ten years Stacey has lost both parents to cancer and seen the neighborhood he grew up in demolished to make way for Sasol’s new multi-billion dollar project. He experiences these changes from the view of his parent’s home, a FEMA trailer smack in the middle of where the new Sasol facility is being built – and he refuses to leave. Having promised his dying parents to fight the sprawling chemical companies, Stacey struggles to keep his word as his power, water, and sewage are all cut off, and his health continues to decline from ongoing chemical exposure. His dilemma is a moral one, too: he has a 5-year-old son living nearby with the child’s mother that he wants to move out of state, yet for now, the pull of that promise to his parents keeps him living in the middle of a construction site. As Sasol encroaches on citizens’ property with buyout offers, Stacey and other community members have to decide whether to exist in a chemical war zone, or abandon land that has been in their families for generations.
This event is cosponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture and the Oxford Film Festival.
Please note you will be able to screen the film April 2–9. The public talk is at 6 p.m. CST on April 5.
The Spring Documentary Showcase is a celebration of the work by our documentary students. Each artist will present their work followed by a Q&A session with questions from the audience.
Mississippi Creates: Annemarie Anderson, Kelly Spivey, and Schaefer Llana
The Center for the Study of Southern Culture and Yoknapatawpha Arts Council partner for the premiere of Mississippi Creates, an event that pairs musical performance with short documentary films, providing a glimpse into the creative life and environments of two local musicians: Tyler Keith and Schaefer Llana. This pair of films is part of a larger series that highlights artists and performers who have been influenced or inspired by the culture and sounds of Mississippi. The screening includes a live musical performance by Schaefer Llana and will be followed by a brief Q&A with the musician and film directors Annemarie Anderson and Kelly Spivey. This event is free to the public and open to all ages. Bring your own chairs and refreshments.
Annemarie Anderson is the oral historian for the Southern Foodways Alliance. She manages and conducts oral history work throughout the South. At age 10 Schaefer Llana moved from St. Louis, Missouri, to Batesville, Mississippi, where she learned to play piano and guitar. Kelly Spivey is a documentarian living and working in Memphis, Tennessee. She holds a BFA in photography from SCAD, and both an MA in Southern Studies and an MFA in Documentary Expression from the University of Mississippi.
Mississippi Creates is made possible by Cathead, the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, and the Mississippi Humanities Council. Doors at 7:30 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m.
On March 2 at noon, Melanie Ho presents sống ở đây. Ho is a producer-director for the Southern Documentary Project whose work deals with trauma, familial relationships, gender, displacement, and intimacy. During her SouthTalk, Ho will screen her documentary film, sống ở đây, followed by a Q&A.
Exploring the “intimacy of the mundane,” sống ở đây focuses on the lives of Vietnamese shrimpers and elderly farmers in New Orleans, Louisiana, to underscore the reverberations of the past in day-to-day labor of the present. Ho is also working to complete mẹ con, a short documentary about a Vietnamese woman, the memories of her mother, and the plants she grows.
The project is supported by a Sauce Fellowship for emerging Asian American filmmakers, presented by the Center for Asian American Media and the New Orleans Video Access Center.
A Florida native, Ho earned her M.F.A. from the social documentation program at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and much of her work centers around underrepresented voices and stories in the South.
SouthTalks is a series of events (including lectures, performances, film screenings, and panel discussions) that explores the interdisciplinary nature of Southern Studies. This series is free and open to the public, and typically takes place in the Tupelo Room of Barnard Observatory. However, as a result of the ongoing health crisis, some events will be virtual, free, and accessible on the Center’s YouTube channel after each live event. Visit the Center’s website at southernstudies.olemiss.edu for more details. Locations listed here are subject to change, and more events may be added throughout the semester. Registration will be required for all virtual events in order to receive the webinar link.
“Southern Punk Archive: Stories and Music”
Join us for a unique look at the impact punk and hardcore music has had on the American South through video presentations of first-person oral history interviews conducted by Southern Studies graduate students. The event will conclude with a live performance from New Orleans-based punk/ska band Joystick! who have spent the past 13 years making music as part of this community. This event is free and open to the public.
From the banks of the mighty Mississippi, Joystick! doesn’t merely play ska and punk – they inhabit it. Built on laser tight rhythms, infectious vocals, and a fierce brass section, Joystick! calls up the spirit of 90’s ska/punk while still retaining a strong sense of their New Orleans roots, creating a unique sound all their own.
The band began in 2008 and in 2014 Joystick! released their much anticipated second and third albums and were brought to new heights with exposure on college radio stations all over the east coast. The band’s momentum continued to grow, allowing them to play sold out shows at much larger venues and festivals around North America. In late 2016 Joystick finished recording their most ambitious album to date proving once and for all that they are unstoppable and show no signs of slowing down. They are set to release their fourth studio album “I Can’t Take it Anymore” on April 16 in collaboration with Bad Time Records and Stomp Records. Their first new album in four years has the band at the very top of their game, playing their most aggressive, fun, and introspective brand of ska punk to date. The grit and musical mixture on the record might be purely New Orleans, but the consistent themes of redemption, recovery, and getting your kicks while you can are universal. As with other bands in the New Tone ska movement, they proves that ska punk can simultaneously be a raucous party and a moment of self-reflection, while never needing to slow down enough to figure out which is which. “I Can’t Take it Anymore” ducks and dives between breakneck hardcore, anthemic punk rock ballads, and dancehall smashing ska, and will be right at home with fans of Mustard Plug, PEARS, Kill Lincoln, and Big D & The Kids Table.