Event Offers Free Screening of New Delta Documentary

Film focuses on problems of gay and HIV-infected people in the South

OXFORD, Miss. – The troubled lives of people struggling against prejudice, poverty and HIV infections in the Mississippi Delta and other parts of South will be explored in a new documentary, “deepsouth,” to be screened next week at the University of Mississippi.The presentation, at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday (March 26) in the Overby Center Auditorium, is free and open to the public. It is part of the Women’s History Month program at the university’s Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies and is co-sponsored by the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics.

The showing will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker, Lisa Biagiotti, and two of the principal figures from the documentary, Joshua Alexander and Cedric Sturdevant.

Biagiotti described the 72-minute film as a study of “the new American South and the people who inhabit its most quiet corners.” The documentary follows four people who are redefining “traditional Southern values to create their own solutions to survive.”

In the film, Alexander, a college student, seeks the support of an underground gay family living miles from his Delta hometown, where he is uncomfortable. As he says, “Whatever is wrong down the line, we have to go back and fix it. In order to fix it, we have to find out what went wrong.”

The documentary also focuses on two activists who work to unite participants at an HIV retreat in Louisiana, and an Alabama woman who spends half the year on the road trying to make local bureaucracy recognize the problems triggered by HIV infections in the rural South.

Biagiotti is an independent filmmaker who has produced for PBS, the Los Angeles Times and Human Rights Watch. She holds a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism and has won a prestigious Robert F. Kennedy Award for outstanding journalism.

The Tuesday program is also being supported by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture, the Media and Documentary Project Center, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, the McLean Institute for Public Service and Community Engagement, the Office of Health Promotions and the cinema studies program housed in the Department of Theatre Arts.