2020 promises a reality in which false information travels faster and more abundantly than factual information. Truth finds itself sliding on an unstable spectrum, and conspiracy theories thrive in ever increasing “news deserts” in our local, Southern communities.

In 2019-2020 the Indie Grits Labs Fellowship program is focusing on current News & Media Literacy issues facing our local Southern communities through the “Real Fiction Project.” Journalism across the Southeast is under threat as large media outlets consume each other and local coverage is diminished and downsized with disappearing resources. However, anyone with a cellphone has 24/7 access to a deluge of digital information from an unfiltered, international media landscape increasingly saturated with false news, conspiracy theories and misinformation. This year, IGL is identifying journalists, new media artists, and documentary filmmakers to develop projects around this growing 21st century conundrum.

Real Fiction Premiere

Join us for the public premiere of the Real Fiction Project. The 2020 Indie Grits Labs Fellows will be presenting their work-in-progress documentary films, experimental media, and special performances. Screenings will be followed by Q&A discussions with the participating media artists.


Real Encounters Exhibition

December 5, 2019 – January 23, 2020

Real Encounters is a collection of photographs and videos from fellows Grant Conversano and Gavin McIntyre.


An Unclear View Exhibition

September 26 – November 22, Indie Grits Labs is pleased to announce the opening of An Unclear View, a collection of still and moving images exploring manipulation and photographic truth.


RECORDER: The Marion Stokes Project

Join us for the South Carolina premiere of this stunning new documentary from filmmaker, Matt Wolf, and the first official event of the 2020 Indie Grits Labs Fellowship & Real Fiction Project.


The 2020 Fellows


In a series of artist-led educational workshops, public forums, exhibitions, and project development retreats beginning in October 2019 and running through the festival in June 2020, a selected Fellowship of artists (filmmakers, journalists, artists, activists, community organizers, etc) residing in Columbia SC, Charleston SC, Atlanta GA, Winston Salem NC, and Durham NC will work with their local communities, media outlets and partnering organizations to develop and create projects exploring the Real Fiction theme. Media artworks will be revealed by the Fellowship during the 2020 Indie Grits Festival, taking place March 26-29.

Lucia Archila-Escobar

Lucia Archila-Escobar is a Guatemalan journalist based in South Carolina. She is a reporter and editor for local newspapers: Viva Noticias and Viva Newspaper, where she investigates stories on a national and international scale. As a Viva Noticias correspondent, Lucias’s mission is to strengthen the ties of the Latinx community through community driven journalism and storytelling. A firm supporter of local media, Lucia is deeply invested in her Columbia community; she enjoys to explore South Carolina everyday life, events that bring underrepresented voices together and to document the experiences of SC’s immigrant communities. Before moving to the United States, Lucia studied Journalism and Mass Communication in Guatemala City, and volunteered at a national radio station called Radio Nuevo Mundo. She also worked as a TV reporter covering national news for Azteca Guatemala. Drawing from personal experience, Lucia’s work is guided by the Immigrant condition in 21st century America, Health and Social Justice issues and the well-being of families.

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz

Aggie Ebrahimi Bazaz is an Iranian American practice-based researcher whose work aims to articulate documentary complicity in oppressive regimes while optimizing documentary power to undermine those regimes. Aggie’s first film, “Inheritance” (2012, 27 min) earned the Loni Ding Award for Social Issue Documentary at CAAMFest and the Short Film award at the Indie Grits Film Festival. Her recent film, “How to Tell a True Immigrant Story” (2019) world premiered as the first-ever VR film in the Pardi di Domani program at Locarno International. Aggie has held residencies at the Wexner Center, Skidmore Storytellers Institute, and Interlochen Center for the Arts. She earned her M.A. in multicultural literature from the University of Georgia and her M.F.A. in filmmaking as a University Fellow at Temple University. Aggie is currently Assistant Professor of filmmaking at Georgia State University and continues work on a long-term project with a community of migratory families who live and work in California’s Central Valley.

Gavin McIntyre

Gavin McIntyre was born and raised in California, but currently works as a staff photographer for The Post & Courier in Charleston, South Carolina. He discovered his love for storytelling in a small multimedia journalism class at American River Community College in Sacramento. Gavin graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism with a concentration in Photojournalism from San Francisco State University. Gavin has worked for Al Jazeera America’s Fault Lines program, The Bay City Times, The Sacramento Bee and The State. His work covers topics from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant explosion to South Carolina’s Black cowboys. Despite attacks against journalism, Gavin proudly covers his community to share important stories and information.


Pilar Timpane

Pilar Timpane (Director/Producer) is a filmmaker and producer based in Durham, North Carolina. In 2018, she co-directed and produced SANTUARIO with Christine Delp. SANTUARIO (ReelSouth/PBS WorldChannel & AlJazeera) was the winner of the Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short at New Orleans Film Festival 2018 and the winner of the 2017 Tribeca Film Institute IF/Then Shorts American South Pitch. Her film projects have been supported by Tribeca Film Institute, Women in Film Finishing Fund, the Fledgling Fund, Southern Documentary Fund, and others. Her work focuses on women’s stories, immigration, and religious communities, with the aim of using storytelling for social change.

Grant Conversano

Grant Conversano was born in Concord, North Carolina and raised on The Avett Brothers. He graduated from the School of Filmmaking at the University of North Carolina School of the Art in 2018. He was a production intern at the 2018 Sundance Directors Lab and a Driver at the 2019 Sundance Theater and Producers Lab. He is also an alum of the Telluride Film Festival Student Symposium and is now apart of the annual education staff at the Telluride Film Festival. Grant has written and directed several short films: Pigeonhearts (2016) starring Academy Award Nominee Lucas Hedges, Where Mothbloods Bloom (2017) which premiered at the Austin Film Festival and is now available on the PBS program Film School Shorts, and Alma (2018) which premiered at the Indie Grits Film Festival and won Best Narrative Short Film at the Visions 9 Film Festival. He lives in Winston Salem, North Carolina with his brother Adam who is currently studying Editing at UNCSA.

Tamika Gadsden

Tamika “Mika” Gadsden is a content creator, writer, social media manager, and host of the unapologetic radio show and podcast, Mic’d Up. Mika uses her activist voice to interrogate power in the Charleston Lowcountry and advocate for our region’s most vulnerable populations. As the lead builder of the Charleston Activist Network digital platform, she creates content that amplifies the efforts of those fighting systemic oppression and leverages the historical archive as a way to craft solutions for contemporary problems plaguing our communities.


Luke Hodges

Luke Hodges is a writer and filmmaker based in Columbia, South Carolina. A proud graduate of the SC Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities, and a past intern for Indie Grits Labs, Hodges has worked in various capacities–as a script reader, grant writer, researcher, and operations assistant–for a slew of different studios and production companies, including BiFrost Pictures, MarVista Entertainment, and the Academy Award winning film collective Borscht Corp. He was a 2016 Media & Documentation Fellow at Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, NC, and, in 2011, received a $10,000, creative writing prize from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, at the age of 18. He is currently at work on his first film, a short documentary portrait of former South Carolina congressman John Jenrette.

Sherrie Belton

Sherrie Belton is a Fairfield County, SC native who loves asking questions, solving problems, and causing good trouble. From classrooms to museums, she has spent the last decade doing creative community work across the Midlands. Though typically she serves as an arts programmer and arts educator, she began exploring what it means to be a maker through an open call for proposals for Indie Grit Lab’s Rural Project. It’s where Route 3 Box 187D was born, an audio series that celebrates the everyday triumph and resiliency of Black families in rural South. Now she serves as radio coordinator for The Grain, a new community radio station at Indie Grits Labs that engages and amplifies the voices of North Columbia (SC). Sherrie is particularly interested in Black community regeneration, cultural preservation, and creative placemaking.


Real Fiction Research & References

Soll, Jacob. “The Long and Brutal History of Fake News” Politico Magazine. December 18, 2016
Chokshi, Niraj. “How a James Comey Tweet Fueled a Conspiracy Theory That Upended a California Town” The New York Times. March 11, 2019
Meyer, Robinson. “The Grim Conclusions of the Largest-Ever Study of Fake News” The Atlantic. March 8, 2018
Beware the Jabberwock” This American Life podcast; NPR. March 15, 2019
Stop The Presses! Newspapers Affect Us, Often In Ways We Don’t Realize” Hidden Brain podcast; NPR. April 4, 2019
Farago, Jason. “How Conspiracy Theories Shape Art” The New York Times. November 1, 2018
Justin Bank, Liam Stack and Daniel Victor. “What Is QAnon: Explaining the Internet Conspiracy Theory That Showed Up at a Trump Rally” The New York Times. August 1, 2019
Pilkington, Ed. “Trapped in a hoax: survivors of conspiracy theories speak out” The Guardian. January 24, 2019
Maheshwari, Sapna. “How Fake News Goes Viral: A Case Study” The New York Times. November 20, 2016
Kristen Bialik and Katerina Eva Matsa. “Key trends in social and digital news media” Pew Research Center. October 4, 2017
The Emerging Threat of News Deserts” Report from the UNC School of Media and Journalism’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media
The Expanding News Desert” Report from the UNC School of Media and Journalism’s Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media

Made possible through funding by

Ford Foundation
National Endowment of the Arts
Knight Foundation

Special thanks to our friends & partners

Southern Documentary Fund
One Columbia for Arts and Culture
Richland Library
Firelight Media
Working Films
New Orleans Film Society
North Columbia Business Association
South Carolina Film Commission