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Visions of the South: 22-Film Series Plays Nashville's Belcourt Theatre, Opens 3/11


The Belcourt Theatre presents the VISIONS OF THE SOUTH series, a 22-film journey that captures through the camera's lens the true essence of the Southern experience over time. VISIONS OF THE SOUTH opens Friday, March 11 at 7 p.m. with a gorgeous new 35mm print of Elia Kazan's WILD RIVER and continues through April 6. Potentially unprecedented for its scope and breadth, VISIONS OF THE SOUTH aims to portray an overarching view of the South as presented in 20th century cinema from rarely screened gems (STEAMBOAT 'ROUND THE BEND, HUSH...HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE) to award-winning films (DELIVERANCE, THE APOSTLE). A viewers' guide will accompany the series with program notes, synopses and original artwork. Tickets will go on sale March 4 and will offer full series' ticket packages, 5-ticket packages and individual ticket sales. Information is available at

The 22 films that comprise VISIONS OF THE SOUTH were selected from an exhaustive search of more than 120 Southern-based films, carefully culled to draw chronological and cultural lines from the early 1900s up to the millennium. The resulting series offers viewers a chance to peer beyond the expected and view thoughtful, authentic portrayals of Southern culture, with a great depth and scale. From Kentucky to the Everglades, VISIONS OF THE SOUTH travels over dusty back roads, down majestic rivers and through small towns delivering varied light and dark moments of the quintessential South.
"The notion of a large-scale series dedicated to unique cinematic visions of the south has been simmering for quite some time now," says Toby Leonard, director of programming at the Belcourt Theatre. "After a few years of sorting through hundreds of films and hunting down prints for exhibition, this final batch is a stout mix of highly entertaining films that go beyond the usual fare in order to better mine the cracked soul of the South."

Highlights from the series include:

Films by acclaimed directors Elia Kazan (WILD RIVER, BABY DOLL, FACE IN THE CROWD), John Ford (STEAMBOAT 'ROUND THE BEND, THE SUN SHINES BRIGHT), John Huston (REFLECTIONS OF A GOLDEN EYE), and the pioneering African-American director Oscar Micheaux (BODY AND SOUL), and others.
Rarely screened films including TOMORROW, starring Robert Duvall in an amazing performance; THE INTRUDER, a contentious drama about a bigot (played by William Shatner) battling school integration; and the underappreciated Nicholas Ray classic WIND ACROSS THE EVERGLADES, among others.

Bawdy Southern gothic fare including BABY DOLL, HUSH...HUSH, SWEET CHARLOTTE; GOD'S LITTLE ACRE, DELIVERANCE, and others.

Opening weekend screenings with special guests: Cast member Judy Harris Spurgeon in attendance for an opening night post-film Q&A after WILD RIVER and a special introduction for THE PHENIX CITY STORY from veteran film reviewer and noted author Jonathan Rosenbaum whose writings on Southern Film have influenced the lineup of this series.
A closing night screening of pioneering African-American director Oscar Micheaux's 1925 silent film, BODY AND SOUL, featuring a musical score composed by Roy "Futureman" Wooten and arranger Gil Fray and performed by Futureman & the Black Mozart Ensemble.

VISIONS OF THE SOUTH is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and Mimi and Scott Manzler, who initially suggested the idea for this series.

Ticketing for VISIONS OF THE SOUTH includes a Full Series Package for $120 ($105 for Belcourt members) that provides admission to each of the 22 films; and a

5-Ticket Package for $30 ($25 for Belcourt members) that provides admission to any five films in the series. Individual tickets are available at regular admission prices. Tickets are available for purchase at the Belcourt Theatre box office during regular hours or online at



Friday, March 11-Monday, March 14

Dir. Elia Kazan, USA, 1960, 110min, 35mm

Set in the post-Depression Tennessee Valley and concerning an idealistic young TVA administrator sent to clear land to be flooded by a new dam, Elia Kazan's film is a masterful recreation of a unique period in Tennessee history.

Saturday, March 12-Sunday, March 13 and Thursday, March 17

Dir. Phil Karlson, USA, 1955, 100min, 35mm

Inspired by mid-century occurrences in the Alabama border town of Phenix City, a young man, just home from war, sets about to change his vice-ridden home town and whose efforts are matched by escalating violence from its resident syndicates.

Sunday, March 13-Monday, March 14 and Thursday, March 17

Dir. Jacques Tourneur, USA, 1950, 89min, 35mm

This warm-hearted classic bears the cloak of a western with its preacher-with-a-gun premise, yet its humanist message prevails through the prism of a small southern town when a new sense of community is threatened by illness and greed.

Tuesday, March 15-Wednesday, March 16

Dir. John Ford, USA, 1935, 85min, 35mm

The first of two John Ford films presented back to back, this early comedy features Will Rogers as a Mississippi River con man who bets it all on a steamboat race to prove his nephew's innocence in a crime he didn't commit.

Tuesday, March 15-Wednesday, March 16

Dir. John Ford, USA, 1953, 90min, 16mm

Said to be John Ford's personal favorite of all of his films, this is the story of southern gentleman/tipsy law man Billy Priest, a man prone to reliving his heroic Civil War memories and keeping the town's myriad developments in check.

Friday, March 18 and Monday, March 21

Dir. Anthony Mann, USA, 1958, 118min, 35mm

Veering between screwball comedy and over-the-top melodrama, Anthony Mann's

raunchy adaptation features Robert Ryan as the patriarch of a poor Georgia family, determined to find the gold his grandfather supposedly buried on the family farm, while the passions of his children and their respective mates flare to a boiling point.


Friday, March 18-Saturday, March 19 and Tuesday, March 22

Dir. Elia Kazan, USA, 1956, 114min, 35mm

Elia Kazan's racy hotbed of sexual tension concerns the owner of a Mississippi cotton gin and antebellum estate who struggles to maintain possession of his last remaining treasure-his 19 year-old virginal wife.


Saturday, March 19-Sunday, March 20 and Wednesday, March 23

Dir. Elia Kazan, USA, 1957, 125min, 35mm

Andy Griffith stars as charming but belligerent Arkansas drifter Lonesome Rhodes whose appearance on a local radio show sets a rapid trajectory into the national limelight. Elia Kazan's scathing critique of a sensationalist media and its effects on the psyche holds up especially well today.


Saturday, March 19-Monday, March 21

Dir. Charles Laughton, USA, 1955, 93min, 35mm

Sublimely sinister Robert Mitchum is a traveling "preacher" whose nefarious motives for marrying a fragile widow, played by Shelley Winters, are uncovered by her terrified young children.


Sunday, March 20 and Thursday, March 24

Dir. Joseph Anthony, USA, 1972, 103min, 35mm

This Faulkner adaptation stars Robert Duvall as a lonely Mississippi farmer who decides to take in a pregnant woman abandoned by her husband and features one of Duvall's best performances-said to be his personal favorite.

Sunday, March 20

Dir. Robert Duvall, USA, 1997, 134min, 35mm

When a charismatic but troubled Pentecostal preacher (Robert Duvall) discovers that his wife is having an affair, he promptly puts the other man in a coma and flees for Louisiana where he takes on a new name, renovates an old church, and brings new life to a congregation.


Friday, March 25 and Monday, March 28

Dir. Robert Aldrich, USA, 1964, 133min, 35mm

An aging southern belle (a fierce Bette Davis) lives in a secluded Louisiana estate where, 37 years earlier, her married lover was murdered. Angular, tense, and hallucinatory, HUSH careens along a blurry line of shadowy horror and psychological melodrama.

Friday, March 25 and Tuesday, March 29

Dir. Roger Corman, USA, 1962, 84min, 16mm

A self-stylized "social reformer" (William Shatner) travels the south inciting riots and feeding on fear until he finds that the situation in one particular town has escalated beyond even his own powers. Directed by legendary B-movie filmmaker Roger Corman.


Satuday, March 26-Sunday, March 27 and Wednesday, March 30

Dir. Nicholas Ray, USA, 1958, 93min, 35mm

Nicholas Ray's gloriously off-the-wall tale of the battle between a game warden in the Florida Everglades (Christopher Plummer) and an enigmatic bird poacher Cottonmouth (Burl Ives) was shot entirely on location in vibrant Technicolor. It's a criminally underappreciated classic from one of America's great film artists.

Saturday, March 26-Monday, March 28

Dir. John Boorman, USA, 1972, 110min, 35mm

More than being the butt of an old joke, John Boorman's highly accomplished Appalachian river floater deserves more of a legacy than an overhyped squeal, this terrifying, enthralling, existential action epic follows four suburban friends who take a canoeing trip into a hinterland of redneck-induced terror.

Sunday, March 27 and Thursday, March 31

Dir. John Huston, USA, 1967, 108min, 35mm

Marlon Brando stars as a closeted Major on a North Carolina army base dealing with two-timing wife (ElizaBeth Taylor) and a wide-eyed new face (Robert Forster). John Huston went for the gusto with this masterpiece of sex, repression, and hyper-stylized color palette.

Friday, April 1 and Monday, April 4

Dir. Raymond St. Jacques, USA, 1973, 81min, 35mm

"The Black King of the Numbers Game" is uber-slick Blueboy who returns to his one-time stomping grounds in small-town Arkansas to set up a numbers racket with his smooth young protégée only to have his flow interrupted by the man. Set apart from the better-known blaxploitation fare of the era, intelligent direction, great music, and quick wit result is a lean 80 minutes of non-stop fun.

Friday, April 2 and Tuesday, April 5

Dir. Monte Hellman, USA, 1974, 83min, 35mm

Monte Hellman's film delves deep into a rarely documented aspect of American life: The rural blood sport of illegal cockfighting. Warren Oates vows to remain mute after costing himself the cockfighting championship; wagering his possessions, his love, and his dignity against his pursuit of the title.

Saturday, April 2-Sunday, April 3

Dir. David Gordon Green, USA, 2000, 89min, 35mm

The debut feature of filmmaker David Gordon Green follows four youngsters coming of age in a rural North Carolina summer, but its focus is potential, holding in its heart the absolute possibility of greatness for any child.

Saturday, April 2 and Tuesday, April 5

Dir. Bob Rafelson, USA, 1976, 102min, 35mm

Fulfilling a minimal obligation to his token job at an investment firm, an idle young upper-crust Birminghamian (Jeff Bridges) unexpectedly finds himself after agreeing to broker the purchase of a ragtag bodybuilding gym in order to make way for an office high-rise complex. Directed by Bob Rafelson and co-starring Sally Field and Arnold Schwarzenegger.


Sunday, April 3-Tuesday, April 5

Dir. Michael Roemer, USA, 1964, 95min, 35mm

A tragically neglected masterpiece, Michael Roemer's NOTHING BUT A MAN sets a benchmark both for 1960s independent cinema as well as representations of black life in the south during the Civil Rights Era through the story of a hard-working railroad laborer's courtship of preacher's daughter, played by jazz vocalist Abbey Lincoln.

BODY AND SOUL [Note: One Screening Only]

Wednesday, April 6, 7 p.m.

A silent film with musical score composed by Roy "Futureman" Wooten and arranger Gil Fray performed by Futureman & the Black Mozart Ensemble.

Dir. Oscar Micheaux, USA, 1925, 80min, 35mm

Written, produced, and directed in 1925 by the pioneering African-American auteur Oscar Micheaux and featuring the incomparable Paul Robeson in his first onscreen role, a prison escapee becomes a preacher in a small Georgia town and proceeds to utilize his austere position to swindle the townspeople out of every cent they have.

The Belcourt Theatre

2102 Belcourt Avenue

Nashville, Tenn. 37212

The Belcourt Theatre is a nonprofit cultural institution dedicated to presenting the best of independent, documentary, and world cinema; promoting visual literacy; and making film a vibrant part of the community while serving as a regular and important home for independent voices in music and theatre. Housed in Nashville's last historic neighborhood theatre, the Belcourt Theatre provides opportunities for people of all ages to discover, explore and learn through the power of film, music and theatre. Opening in 1925 as a silent movie house, the theatre was home to the Grand Ole Opry from 1934-36. Since the re-opening of the theatre in 1999 more than 650,000 people from Middle Tennessee have come here to see nearly 1,000 films from every corner of the globe, musicians both long established and newly emerging and theatre from some of Nashville's most creative and imaginative artists.


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