What started as a DIY festival for a tight-knit and dedicated Southern media making community, Indie Grits has grown into a staple of cultural life in the Southeast. The festival offers novice to advanced media makers from across the Southeast a venue for sharing their interest in independent media making, while also giving thousands of visitors and locals access to a progressive cultural life unmatched in the Southeast.
Indie Grits filmmakers alumni have showcased their films at festivals like SXSW and Sundance, and we were named one of the 25 “Coolest Film Festivals” in the world by Moviemaker Magazine in 2019.
Propelled by an expansive artistic vision in 2006, festival organizers sought to break down the walls intimidating Southern media makers by creating exhibition opportunities for work often overlooked elsewhere. Anchored by the spirit of its host, the Nickelodeon Theatre – South Carolina’s only non-profit, art house theatre – Indie Grits has become an annual pilgrimage for independent artists in search of community.
Indie Grits’ rapidly growing programs are garnering support from national funders as we provide the tools to make, interpret, appreciate, and teach the moving image in all its variety. Recently, Columbia Film Society created Indie Grits Labs to consolidate the festival, the creation of new media artwork, and media education.
Building off of our first artist residency in 2014, Indie Grits 2015 was a themed festival which commissioned over 20 artists to create new works interacting directly with our Columbia community. That approach encouraged a collaborative community of artists to create work around a common theme using a wide range of disciplines and approaches such as painting, filmmaking, game development, community organization, horticulture, music, storytelling, sculpture, and photography.
With the creation of Indie Grits Labs the themes became focused incubation projects, and have changed yearly with each new cohort of artists. In “Waterlines” (2016), artists tackled the October 2015 floods that devastated parts of S.C. In “Visiones” (2017), artists explored the rapid immigration from Latin America that is changing the face of the Southeast. Developing these projects has grown into a year-round process of research, discussion and creation.
Our filmmakers come first. We offer dedicated support for filmmaker hospitality including a fully stocked filmmaker lounge, a filmmaker travel/lodging fund, and a range of awards and opportunities. The festival also offers panels, work-in-progress screenings, post-screening discussions, and filmmaker exclusive events.
We host a wide range of cultural events featuring the very best of art, music, and experimental media from the Southeast. Festival goers can come out and pick their poison: dark theaters, music in the streets, late night drinks with like-minded souls, the antics of crazy, sharp-witted, dream-casting puppeteers, and a world of art embedded into the very environment they inhabit.
A guiding principle of the festival is that independent media should be celebrated as an end in itself and not be looked at as simply a springboard to big budget movie making. With that in mind, we look for truly unique, independent work that wouldn’t necessarily find its way into other festivals.
Without these people, Indie Grits would not be possible!