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Two fall film series explore popular music, indie filmmakers

Say Amen Somebody still 2.jpg
"America's Music: A Film History of Our Most Popular Music," opens Sept. 14 with a session about blues and gospel music. Image copyright © 2012 George Nierenberg

Cinema enthusiasts will have several great films to choose from this fall, as the University of North Georgia invites the community to attend two film series that begin in mid-September.

UNG is one of 50 sites selected nationwide to host "America's Music: A Film History of Our Most Popular Music," a six-session program featuring documentary film screenings and scholar-led discussions of 20th-century music. Dr. Benjamin Schoening, an assistant professor of music at UNG, will lead discussions about the historical context and social impact of each musical genre.

"When looking at any culture, an exploration and understanding of music is paramount to understanding the overall historical fabric, values and norms of that culture," Schoening said. "The popular musical genres and styles that developed within the United States are both a fusion of many world cultures coming together in the United States and yet, at the same time, something that is uniquely our own that others around the world have chosen to emulate."

The second series, the 2013-14 Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers, is sponsored by UNG and The Arts Council, Inc. in Gainesville and has sessions in Dahlonega and Gainesville throughout the fall and spring. Dr. Jeff Marker, head of the Department of Communication, Media & Journalism at UNG, said the films being presented during the series have not been previously released in theaters or home video.

"The South Arts series provides UNG and surrounding communities access to exciting independent films and to the filmmakers who made them," Marker said. "For students, the opportunity to talk with experienced filmmakers, especially away from the crowded, intimidating atmosphere of a film festival, is invaluable to their own growth as filmmakers."

'America's Music' starts Sept. 14

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong, ca. 1930s. Courtesy Frank
Driggs Collection

Beginning Sept. 14, the "America's Music" series explores a different, uniquely American, musical genre's influence on American life during sessions held every other Saturday. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, all sessions are free and open to the public and take place on UNG's Gainesville Campus in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building.

Participants are welcome to join any number of sessions, which start at 4 p.m. and will last about 90 minutes to two hours. Light refreshments will be provided, and RSVPs are appreciated to or 678-717-3658.

The "America's Music" sessions are:

  • Sept. 14: The blues and gospel music are featured in an episode of "Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues" and the documentary "Say Amen, Somebody."
  • Sept. 28: The music of Broadway and Tin Pan Alley are featured in an episode of the Emmy-winning series "Broadway: The American Musical."
  • Oct. 12: Swing jazz is covered in an episode of "Ken Burns' Jazz" and the documentary "International Sweethearts of Rhythm."
  • Oct. 26: The history of country and bluegrass are traced in the documentary "High Lonesome: The Story of Bluegrass Music."
  • Nov. 9: The emergence of rock and roll is featured in an episode of "The History of Rock and Roll."
  • Nov. 23: Latin rhythms from mambo to hip hop are the subject of an episode of "Latin Music USA" and the award-winning film "From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale."

"America's Music" is a project by the Tribeca Film Institute in collaboration with the American Library Association, Tribeca Flashpoint, and the Society for American Music. For more information, visit the UNG Libraries website at

Indie film series starts Sept. 16

The independent film series features a different movie in each monthly showing, and continues through April 2014. All film screenings begin at 7 p.m., but doors open at 6:30 p.m. Opportunities to meet the filmmakers will be held after each screening. Tickets for each movie, with one exception noted below, are $7 for adults or $5 for students and seniors; tickets for the series are $38 per person.

The movies being shown are:

  • Sept. 16: "How to Make Movies at Home," a comedy/romance feature film by Morgan Nichols, will be shown in the Hoag Student Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus. Due to language and brief nudity, this film is not recommended for children.
  • Oct. 14: "Birth of the Living Dead," a documentary by Rob Kuhns about the making of the George A. Romero horror classic "Night of the Living Dead," will be shown in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building on UNG's Gainesville Campus.
  • Nov. 18: "GMO OMG," a documentary by Jeremy Seifert about genetic alteration of food, will be shown at the Smithgall Arts Center, located at 331 Spring St., Gainesville. This screening includes dinner, so tickets will be $15 for adults or $13 for students and seniors. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and dinner begins at 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 10: "The Iran Job," a documentary by Till Schauder about an American basketball player in Iran, will be screened at the Smithgall Arts Center, located at 331 Spring St., Gainesville.
  • March 6: "Finding Hillywood," a film by Leah Warshawski, explores the efforts to start a film industry in Rwanda. The screening will be in the Hoag Student Center on UNG's Dahlonega Campus.
  • April 14: "The New Public," filmed over four years by Jyllian Gunther, chronicles the opening of a new public school in Brooklyn's inner city. The screening will be held in the Martha T. Nesbitt Academic Building on UNG's Gainesville Campus.

For more information about the independent film series, including trailers and additional information, or to buy tickets, call The Arts Council at 770-534-2787 or visit the website at

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