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What does it take for the Southern Film Industry to thrive?

The New Orleans Film Society Published the Inaugural South Summit Report

South Summit Photo Camille Lenain

The New Orleans Film Society (NOFS) has released a report from its inaugural South Summit, a field-building event in which participants heard directly from filmmakers and thought leaders whose work in inspires new possibilities for a Southern identity and the nation’s understanding of the South.


NOFS organized the inaugural South Summit on October 22, 2018, to map the challenges and opportunities facing independent filmmakers in the American South. By invitation from NOFS, a group of 47 national, regional, and local media stakeholders, a portion of the robust brain-trust that gathered at the 29th New Orleans Film Festival in October 2018, convened at the Greater New Orleans Foundation.


Participants collectively discussed and sought answers to questions including but not limited to:

  • Why do filmmakers choose to create in the South?;
  • What are the challenges facing Southern filmmakers?
  • How are Southern filmmakers funding their projects?
  • What would a better resourced Southern filmmaking community yield?
  • What would Southern-serving organizations do if they were better resourced?


A summary report from the South Summit is now available and can be found at

To include many important voices who could not be in the room, New Orleans Film Society also surveyed 100 filmmakers from 12 Southern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Virginia. 22 industry representatives also completed the survey.




83 Films from 9 Southern States Showcased at the 29th New Orleans Film Festival


“As the New Orleans Film Festival has become one of the largest convenings of filmmakers in the American South, we hope to continue to leverage our networks to positively influence our region of makers,” said Clint Bowie, Artistic Director for the New Orleans Film Society. For the 29th New Orleans Film Festival, Bowie and his programming programming team selected 83 films from 9 Southern states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas. Additionally, filmmakers from Tennessee and Virginia also participated in the festival’s filmmaker development programs, including South Pitch which offers Southern filmmakers an opportunity to pitch film projects to industry professionals for feedback and potential funding and in-kind production packages. 


Greater investment is clearly needed in the Southern filmmaking landscape to fully amplify the stories of our home, and it is our hope that by demonstrating the needs and the opportunities that lie in resourcing our incredible creative communities, national funders may take notice,” said Fallon Young, Executive Director, New Orleans Film Society.

Following the South Summit, the New Orleans Film Society is actively distributing the report to funders who may wish to invest in the needs of Southern storytellers, and using feedback from participating filmmakers to augment its professional development initiatives offered during the New Orleans Film Festival and year-round. These include an immersive lab lab designed to bolster a deeper bench of producers in the South, a mentorship program for directors of color, an annual creative conference for filmmakers, and an industry exchange that provides vital access to industry gatekeepers.

For a list of funds, programs, and other resources specifically designed for Southern filmmakers and addressed during the South Summit, visit:



The New Orleans Film Society discovers, cultivates, and amplifies diverse voices of filmmakers who tell the stories of our time. Founded in 1989, NOFS produces the Academy-accredited New Orleans Film Festival annually and invests year-round in building a vibrant film culture in the South to share transformative cinematic experiences with audiences, and connect dynamic filmmakers to career-advancing resources. Year-round programming includes free and low-cost screenings for members and the broader community of cinephiles in New Orleans, a 20-year running French Film Festival featuring contemporary and classic French cinema, and filmmaker professional development programs created to nurture diverse voices in filmmaking in the American South. NOFS is a 501(c)(3) organization.


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