Indie Grits, Columbia’s very own independent film festival, is back for round nine, but with a few new additions — this is the first year Indie Grits will embody a theme and will showcase visual art installations.
The celebration of obscure art doesn't just focus on showcasing movies. While the films are the main event, there are a number of other events such as art showcases, raunchy puppet shows and many musical acts.
Working with a lot of freelancers, the directors of Indie Grits love the unconventional and unusual.
“Indie Grits prides itself in imagining things that seem crazy and impossible," said Seth Gadsden, co-director of Indie Grits. "And we start working through what is crazy and what is not possible.”
By making the playing field ambiguous, Indie Grits doesn’t always get amazing film entries. There isn't a concrete list of criteria to enter art.
"It's okay because you want the creativity at a peak,” Gadsden said when asked if this is an issue.
However, there are some surprises, such as Indie Grits' first promotion of visual art installations. Many of Indie Grits’ filmmakers experiment with other mediums — 17 artists from all around the southeast are presenting sculptures, paintings and other art installations.
“We do have really good narrative, experimental film, and often times these experimental filmmakers are artists or media makers while they’re making film," Gadsden said. "These films are by no means a traditional sense of what a film is."
Indie Grits encourages originality and will do whatever it takes to get that essence in their presentations.
"We try to make it as organic as possible," Gadsden said. "We create space for things to happen that are maybe unexpected."
Some of the unexpected acts in this year’s Indie Grits are GRITman and Hectorina. The GRITman game is a live-action PAC-MAN game and the headlining band, Hectorina, is a rock opera.
Gadsden said it's hard to present something because they don’t really know what sparked its experimental nature, allowing for the organic aspect to come out.
“We pride ourselves in allowing people to experiment and do whatever it is they do to the best of their ability," Gadsden said.
The theme, “Future Perfect,” will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the burning of Columbia. Many films and art installations will follow this theme using the city of Columbia as a basis, but many have interpreted the theme more abstractly.
Indie Grits is the reason why Gadsden even works at the Nickelodeon Theatre: he got involved when he submitted a film for the festival one year. He loves working with the slew of experimental artists and collaborators.
From start to finish, the process takes more than a year to organize. Gadsden said the team is already planning next year's Indie Grits festival. However, this isn’t a problem for Gadsden and his co-director Andy Smith, who started the festival in 2007. According to Gadsden, it is well worth the time commitment.
Gadsden doesn’t pick favorites when it comes to Indie Grits, and he loves to see connections within the community. He does like the more traditional aspects of the festival such as Weekly Revue, but ultimately Gadsden is a scholar who feeds on and delights in discovering new aspects of film and art in Indie Grits.