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Clayton Center for the Arts chosen as screening partner for Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers

southern circuit

MARYVILLE, TN — The Clayton Center for the Arts is one of 8 venues in the Southeast to screen 6 films as part of the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers. One film will be show per month in the Lambert Recital Hall during September, October, and November of 2017, and February, March and April of 2018. Thanks to a generous sponsorship by Russell & Abbott, Heating and Air of Maryville, screenings will be free for High School and College students with a student ID, and admission for the general public $5. All films will be shown at 7pm followed by a Q&A with the filmmaker.

“Through the Southern Circuit, we are reshaping the relationship between films, filmmakers, and audiences,” said Teresa Hollingsworth, senior program director with South Arts. “Our Screening Partners are developing thriving audiences who support independent films, and filmmakers have the opportunity to interact with audiences in each community at receptions, Q&As, and workshops.”

“The Southern Circuit is about creating a deeper, more conversational approach to film,” continued Hollingsworth. “Instead of catching a documentary in your living room, audiences get to meet the filmmaker and discuss the creative process." In total, there will be 21 Screening Partners, 18 filmmakers and a total of 124 screenings spanning nine states.

Blake Smith, General Manager of the Clayton Center was part of the South Arts panel that chose the 6 films to be shown at the Clayton Center. Smith said “If you are an Indie film junkie or just someone looking for new ways to experience the arts, I hope you will find an opportunity to join us in this exciting new endeavor. Many of the films are award winning, and have been screened at well known festivals such as Sundance and Tribeca. One of the films is co produced by POV of PBS fame. We are very excited to offer this opportunity to our area and to our Maryville College students.”

Films to be screened at the Clayton Center are:

• September 27, 2017: When God Sleeps with filmmaker Till Schauder
• October 25, 2017: Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four with filmmaker Deborah Esquenazi
• November 08, 2017: Jackson with filmmaker Maisie Crow
• February 14, 2018: Liyana with filmmakers Amanda Kopp & Aaron Kop
• March 14, 2018: Quest with filmmaker Jonathan Olshefski
• April 18, 2018: 78/52 with filmmaker Alexandre O. Philippe

For more information about each film, visit or view the attached brief synopses. Southern Circuit screenings are funded in part by a grant from South Arts, a regional arts organization, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

South Arts, a nonprofit regional arts organization, was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to address the role of the arts in impacting the issues important to our region, and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts. For more information, visit

​The Clayton Center for the Arts, located on the Maryville College campus and constructed through a unique partnership between the College and the cities of Maryville and Alcoa, is East Tennessee’s venue for arts and entertainment. As a gathering place for the community and the home of Maryville College fine and performing arts programs, the Clayton Center provides opportunities for the lifelong expression and appreciation of the arts.

The 1,200-seat Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre features dance, theatre, concerts, lectures and other events. The 250-seat Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall hosts a wide variety of musicians and performers. The 200-seat Haslam Family Flexible Theatre is capable of supporting theatrical performances from amateur and professional companies. Four art galleries display collections and works of art from Appalachia and beyond.

2017-18 Southern Circuit of Independent Films - Clayton Center for the Arts Harold and Jean Lambert Recital Hall:

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 7:00 PM

Film Name: When God Sleeps
Director(s): Till Schauder​Year Completed: 2017

"My songs didn't make me famous. The fatwa did." When God Sleeps tells the story of exiled Iranian artist-activist Shahin Najafi against the backdrop of the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and the global right-wing backlash against Middle Eastern refugees. With a death warrant (fatwa) issued for his life, Shahin is faced with life-and-death decisions that affect his professional and personal life.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 7:00 PM

Film Name: Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Director(s): Deborah Esquenazi​Year Completed: 2016

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez — four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two little girls in San Antonio, Texas. The film begins its journey inside a Texas prison, after these women have spent nearly a decade behind bars. They were 19 and 20 years at the time that allegations surfaced.

Using the women’s home video footage from 21 years ago combined with recent verité footage and interviews, the film explores their personal narratives and their search for exculpatory evidence to help their losing criminal trials. 15 years into their journey, director Deborah S. Esquenazi captures an on-amera recantation by one of the initial outcry victims, now 25 years old although 7 at the time of the investigation. This brings the filmmaker into the role of investigator along with attorneys at the Innocence Project, who are just beginning their quest for truth in this case. In November 23, 2016, the San Antonio Four were finally exonerated by the court of criminal appeals. The documentary was cited in the first paragraph of the opinion.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 7:00 PM

Film Name: Jackson
Director(s): Maisie Crow​Year Completed: 2016

Jackson is an intimate, unprecedented look at the lives of three women caught up in the complex issues surrounding abortion access. Set against the backdrop of the fight to close the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, Jackson captures the essential and hard truth of the lives at the center of the debate over reproductive healthcare in America.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018 7:00 PM

Film Name: Liyana

Director(s): Amanda Kopp and Aaron Kopp​Year Completed: 2017

As five orphaned children in Swaziland, collaborate to tell a remarkable tale, their words burst to life in gorgeous animation. Together, they tell the imaginative story of Liyana, a young Swazi girl on a dangerous quest to rescue her young twin brothers. Through their story of perseverance, drawn from the young narrators’ darkest memories and brightest dreams, audiences journey through a uniquely poetic blend of observational documentary scenes with an animated tale to create a genre-defying celebration of collective storytelling.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018 7:00 PM

Film Name: Quest
Director(s): Jonathan Olshefski​Year Completed: 2017

Filmed with vérité intimacy over a ten-year period, QUEST is the moving portrait of a family in North Philadelphia. Christopher “Quest” Rainey and his wife Christine’a open the door to their home music studio, which serves as a creative sanctuary from the strife gripping their neighborhood. Over the years, everyday life brings a mix of joy and unexpected crisis. Set against the backdrop of a country in turmoil, QUEST is a tender depiction of an American family whose journey is a profound testament to love, healing and hope.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018 7:00 PM

Film Name: 78/52
Director(s): Alexandre Philippe​Year Completed: 2017

Alfred Hitchcock created the single most extraordinary and mysterious scene in the history of cinema – the iconic shower scene in ‘Psycho.’ 78/52, which refers to the number of set-ups (78) and cuts (52) in the scene, delves into the genius and experimental process of its creation and the indelible impact on filmmaking.

Published August 11, 2017

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