SFA Documentary Films
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Each year, the SFA produces several films in concert with the University of Mississippi's Center for Documentary Projects. Annually, we commission a documentary that pays tribute to the Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame honoree, we create a movie that is screened at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, and, with support from Biltmore Estates, we showcase a Southern farmer or artisan. We produce a range of short films, about everything from goat cheese to fried pies, from buttermilk to barbecue.
Our Potlikker Film Festivals allow us to take these films on the road. Look for screenings (and potlikker shots) in your area soon.
If you’re unable to meet us on the road, watch these films online.
Our oeuvre of films to date includes:
• An SFA Film Primer Watch this film
by Joe York. Watch this to find out what our film initiative is all about.
• Cured Watch this film
This short film by Joe York profiles Madisonville, Tennessee's world-renowned bacon and country ham producer Allan Benton.
• Eggers Watch this film
They live hard lives. They deal in black gold. A documentary about the men who work the Mississippi River, pulling paddlefish from the depths and harvesting eggs from their bellies.
• Dori Watch this film
by Joe York. Meet Dori Sanders of Filbert, North Carolina. A peach farmer and writer, Sanders talks here of her family's dedication to black land ownership and of the import of agriculture to the social fabric. This film was made to recognize her life's work and commemorate her selection as the SFA's 2011 Craig Claiborne Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
• Hot Wet Goobers Watch this film
by Joe York. Meet the Hardy Family, of Hardy Farms in Hawkinsville, Georgia. They operate a family peanut farm, and are known all over South Georgia for their boiled green peanut stands. They only sell when green peanuts are in season, and the trick to their famous boiled peanuts--according to locals--is letting them sit in the brine for a good while to soak up salt.
• To Live and Die in Avoyelles Parish Watch this film
by Joe York. A celebration of the Louisiana cochon de lait tradition. If you are fluent in French, you know that cochon de lait literally refers to a pig on milk, or a suckling pig. You may also know that the term refers to a style of cooking particular to Cajun Country in which such a pig is wired between two metal racks, hung from a chain, and cooked very near, but not directly over, a raging hardwood fire.
• GUS Watch this film
by Joe York. A short profile in memory of Constantine “Gus” Koutroulakis of Pete's Famous Hot Dogs in Birmingham, Alabama. Gus passed away on April 5, 2011, at the age of 81.
• Deadliest Throw Watch this film
by Joe York. A short film about the 26th Annual Interstate Mullet Toss, staged on the border of Florida and Alabama, billed as the world's largest beach party.
• GOAT Watch this film
by Joe York. A short film about Victor "Goat" Lafayette, who has picked oysters on Bowens Island, South Carolina, for over fifty years.
• Bowen's Island Watch this film
by Joe York. A short documentary profile of Bowens Island Restaurant, a low country landmark for over sixty years.
• Bertha's Watch this film
Baked chicken, fried pork chops, barbecued pigs feet, cabbage, okra soup, red rice, and mac and cheese are just a few of the choices at Bertha's in North Charleston, South Carolina.
• Giving Thanks in Awendaw Watch this film
by Joe York. Every year on the day before Thanksgiving, members of the Colleton-Green family of Awendaw, South Carolina, head out to the woods to hunt squirrels for the annual feast.
• Ride that Pig to Glory Watch this film
by Joe York. A meditation on pastured pigs and tango dancing, featuring SFA Fellow Emile de Felice, and underwritten by Biltmore Estate.
• Carolina Grist Watch this film
by Joe York. An exploration of rice cultivation and the rice kitchen, featuring SFA Fellow Glenn Roberts, underwritten by Biltmore Estate.
• Phat Tai Watch this film
by Joe York. Trace the path of Vietnamese fishermen from Indonesia to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana. Watch and listen as they persevere as Saigon falls, Katrina hits, and the BP oil spill spreads. The film was made in recognition of 2010 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award Winner Peter Nguyen. He accepted the award on behalf of the Vietnamese fishing communities of the Gulf Coast.
• CUT/CHOP/COOK Watch this film
by Joe York. CUT/CHOP/COOK profiles Rodney Scott of Scott's Bar-B-Q in Hemingway, South Carolina. Says Scott, "We only cook with wood and I'm so sure that we only cook with wood because we go out and chop it ourselves." Monday through Wednesday, you'll find Scott doing just that, cutting down trees and chopping wood, and Thursday through Saturday he burns that wood down into coals that he uses to cook a half-dozen whole hogs every night.
• Smokes & Ears Watch this film
by Joe York. See the story of the Big Apple Inn in Jackson, Mississippi. Known as "Big John's" by its faithful customers, the Big Apple Inn's defining duo of pig ear sandwiches and hot smoked sausage sandwiches (known as "smokes") has kept folks coming back again and again for over 70 years, and counting. The film is made in recognition of 2009 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame Award Winner Geno Lee.
• CUD Watch this film
by Joe York. Meet Will Harris of White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia, a cattle rancher with deep roots in the Deep South. He has rejected the corn-fed, feedlot cattle model in favor of raising grass-fed cattle. Will is no arriviste. The Harris family has raised cattle on the same Early County, Georgia farm for 5 generations.
• Capitol Q Watch this film
by Joe York. Travel to North Carolina's Skylight Inn, once declared the capital of 'cue by National Geographic. A capital dome atop the building will confirm you're at the right location. The Jones family cooks whole hog barbecue in open pits over oak, and then chops it--skin and all--on a wood chopping block.
• The W.H.O. Farm Watch this film
by Joe York. Follow this upside down bus across the country as they lobby the new president to plant an organic farm on the White House lawn.
• Buttermilk: It Can Help Watch this film
by Joe York. See the story of 2008 Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame winner Cruze Family Dairy, located outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. Hear proprietor Earl Cruze extol the virtues of buttermilk. It might not solve all the world’s problems, but it can help!
• Eat or We’ll Both Starve Watch this film
by Joe York. The story of Mississippi’s Taylor Grocery, and proprietors Lynn and Debbie Hewlett. It’s hailed as the South’s best catfish joint and it has a brown bag policy. Diners don’t mind waiting on the front porch for a table, sometimes for hours.
• Jones Valley Urban Farm Watch this film
by Matthew Graves. A profile of downtown Birmingham’s not-for-profit demonstration education garden. Together with volunteers, Jones Valley Urban Farm turns vacant urban property into bountiful gardens and uses proceeds from produce and flower sales to fund educational programs.
• Mutton: The Movie Watch this film
by Joe York and Matthew Graves. Go on a journey to the northwestern corner of Kentucky (Owensboro, to be exact), where descendants of the Welsh who settled the banks of the Ohio River don’t count sheep; they barbecue them.
• The Rise of Southern Cheese Watch this film
by Joe York and Matthew Graves. A look at artisanal cheese producers in the South. It chronicles three makers of fine Southern cheeses: Belle Chevre in Alabama, Sweet Grass Dairy in Georgia, and Bonnie Blue Farm in Tennessee.
• Rolling Tamales on MLK Watch this film
by the Center for Documentary Projects. A retrospective of Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame honorees, on the tenth anniversary of the SFA, and a portrait of Elizabeth Scott, a tamale maker in Greenville, Mississippi. Scott and her husband learned to make tamales after developing a taste for them in Texas, and today six of her nine children—as well as some grandchildren—are carrying on the tradition at their Martin Luther King Boulevard tamale stand.
• Chicken Stew Watch this film
by Joe York and Matthew Graves. In the North Alabama summertime, especially around the cities of Florence, Tuscumbia, and Muscle Shoals, people eat chicken stew. Watch these Alabama Catholics stoke fires beneath boiling pots, while most folks are just trying to stay cool.
• Something Better Than Barbecue Watch this film
by Joe York. A look at Chuck Ferrell of Chuck’s Bar-B-Q in Opelika, Alabama. Ferrell is a born again Christian who uses his heavenly barbecue as a tool for conversion. He keeps a stock of personalized religious tracts by the register, but wields a barbecue pitchfork for a living.
• Above the Line: Saving Willie Mae’s Scotch House Watch this film
by Joe York and the Center for Documentary Projects. A documentary that chronicles the SFA’s rebuilding of the Scotch House, a New Orleans restaurant operated by 92-year-old fried chicken maven Willie Mae Seaton.
• & Fried Pies Watch this film
by Joe York. Mr. Elzy "E.W." Mayo of Mayo's Mahalia Jackson Chicken & Fried Pies, in Nashville, makes what he calls "the world's best pies." He didn't have too much to say about the chicken, so we focused on the other side of the ampersand.
• Hot Chicken Watch this film
by Joe York. Meet Andre Prince Jeffries, and learn all about the addictive hot chicken craze in North Nashville. It’s hot, and it’s fried.
• Working the Miles Watch this film
by Joe York. A tribute to the men and women of 13 Mile Oyster Company, honoring Tommy Ward who, like his father before him, has served as a guardian of the Apalachicola Bay.
• Dial S for Sausage Watch this film
by Joe York. A short profile of Southside Market in Elgin, Texas, produced for the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, sponsored by the Union Square Hospitality Group.
• BBGBBQ Watch this film
by Joe York. A short profile of Big Bob Gibson's Barbecue in Decatur, Alabama, produced for the annual Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, sponsored by Union Square Hospitality Group.
• Whole Hog Watch this film
by Joe York, an examination of barbecue culture in west-central Tennessee. At the core of the story is whole hog stalwart Ricky Parker, pitmaster at B.E. Scott’s Bar-B-Que in Lexington, Tennessee.
• Marsaw Watch this film
by Joe York. The tale of Martin Sawyer, bartender at the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in New Orleans. Mr. Sawyer, a veteran of more than six decades of tending bar, witnessed the flood of 1927 and survived Hurricane Katrina.
• The Real Baptizing Watch this film
by Joe York and Preston Lauterbach. An account of Willie King and his music at Bettie’s Place, a now-defunct blues club near Aliceville, Alabama.
• Welcome Table Watch this film
by Joe York. An account of Martha Hawkins of Montgomery, Alabama, whose restaurant serves as a modern day incarnation of the Civil Rights Movement ideal of the beloved community.
• On Flavor Watch this film
by Joe York. A profile of Ed Scott, the first African American catfish farmer in the Mississippi Delta.
• Saving Seeds Watch this film
by Joe York and Matt Bruder. A portrait of Bill Best, an heirloom bean and tomato farmer of Berea, Kentucky. Finalist for the Golden Snail Award from Slow Food.