What started as a DIY Southern-focused film festival 12 years ago, Indie Grits has quickly evolved into a celebration of all kinds of innovative creative endeavors. The Columbia, S.C. festival is held April 12-15, featuring four days of art, music, and, of course film, all aimed at sharing honest narratives of the gritty, modern South, often through marginalized voices.

On Indie Grits’ opening night, the 13 Indie Grits Fellows, composed of artists, filmmakers, agriculturalists, and more, will premiere their projects for “Two Cities,” pieces that have been a year in the making.

The “Two Cities” project turns its focus inward on the community of North Columbia to explore the ways that race and socioeconomic factors shape experiences and interactions within the city. The project takes a look at pressing topics like gentrification, housing displacement, and funding inequalities, particularly within the arts, problems that many cities, Charleston included, are grappling with as well.

That same night, the fest is kicking off with some major music festivities with Love, Grits, and Hip Hop, a showcase of some of the best regional hip-hop, rock, and electronic music. This opener will be “like smashing a glass bottle on the hull of a ship, but the ship is your ears and the bottle is immaculate sonic bliss.”

The rest of the festival features music from 30 bands and art events throughout the weekend. Attendees can catch the Two Cities Puppet Slam, an adult only show that combines burlesque and vaudeville for a thought-provoking, hilarious performance. Toby Lou will be there spreading the gospel of karaoke with The Weekly Revue’s Church of Karaoke event on Friday, as well.

At its core, Indie Grits is still a film festival. The festival screens 83 short, narrative-length, animated, and documentary films connected with Southern life and culture, covering everything from post-election protests to nutria, beaver-sized rodents in the Louisiana Bayou. As always, Indie Grits celebrates diversity in the arts: out of those 83 films, 53 percent were made by female filmmakers and 10 percent were made by Latinx filmmakers.

For tickets and a full schedule of events, head online.

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