Welcome to the South, where amidst confederate flags and pop country radio there lies a new generation of queer activists who spend their nights creating independent music, promoting acceptance and celebrating queer visibility.
Filmed on the road, WHISTLIN' DIXIE follows director Meredith Heil as she investigates the complex historical relationship between Southern music, identity politics and resistance through intimate interviews, rich landscapes and riveting performances.
— @queersouthmovie on Twitter.
Meredith Heil received her MA in Social Documentation from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York where she develops digital content for Homoground.com, a queer music podcast & artist resource.
Meredith graduated from The Putney School in Putney, Vermont, an alternative boarding school located on a working dairy farm. After a short stint in San Francisco, she moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she graduated from Eugene Lang College (a division of The New School) in 2007. After some grueling internships and the break up of her first (and only) band, The Westward Ho, Meredith got accepted into the Social Documentation program at UCSC.
“Whistlin’ Dixie” is Meredith’s first large scale documentary project and was completed in conjunction with her M.A. degree.
May 27: NC Rising (Greensboro, NC)
June 3: SheRAW (Long Beach, CA)
June 9: Del Mar Theater (Santa Cruz, CA)
June 10: Pink Sheep Festival (Wilmington, NC)
June 21: 27 Social Centre w/ Boot & Rally, One Tough Cookie (Denver, CO)
June 25: BitchFest (Charlotte, Tennessee)
June 29: Quenchers w/ 8 Inch Betsy & The Ovens (Chicago, IL)
July 1: Church Bar (Lakewood, OH)
July 3: The Bishop (Bloomington, IN)
July 9: Legitimate Business w/ the Monitors & Pink Flag (Greensboro, NC)
July 10: The Pinhook w/ Midtown Dickens, Humble Tripe & Lam!Lam! (Durham)
July 17: Dulce Vegan Bakery & Cafe (Atlanta, GA)
July 18: Spring Street Firehouse w/ Monitors (Birmingham, AL)
July 19: Perkins Road Parlor w/ Julie Odell (Baton Rouge, LA)
July 20: T-Lot (New Orleans, LA)
July 21: Louisville, KY House Show w/ the Hardly Boys!
July 23: The Flying Brick w/ Humble Tripe & S.O.N.G. (Richmond, VA)
July 24: House Show w/ Humble Tripe!! (Raleigh, NC)
July 24: NewFest LGBT Film Festival (Shorts Program) (New York, NY)
July 26: Veronica Peoples Club w/ Julia Read & Liz Kelly (Brooklyn, NY)
July 29: PhilaMOCA w/ Allison Weiss (Philadelphia, PA)
Aug 2: Bluestocking Books (New York, NY)
Aug 4: Bread Euphoria Bakery & Cafe (Haydenville, MA)
Sept 24: QUEERSLANG (Lexington, KY)
During the summer of 2011, Meredith Heil took Whistlin’ Dixie across the country on a DIY screening tour, projecting the film onto bedsheets and blank walls and directly reinvesting in the lo-fi community that made this project possible. During its summer tour, Whistlin’ Dixie screened alongside local and touring musicians, bringing queer bands together and helping to foster radical queer spaces in small towns and big cities alike. Whistlin’ Dixie is now focused on creating those spaces within the academy by embarking on a college tour for the 2012 Spring semester. Visits include an introduction by the filmmaker, a 30-45 minute screening, and a concluding workshop-based Q&A session with the filmmaker and a rotating array of featured musicians. Screenings can be hosted in conjunction with performances from queer local or touring bands and/or incorporated into a larger academic conference setting.
Whistlin’ Dixie is interested in working with queer centers, queer oriented academic departments, student-run cultural organizations as well as event planning committees from colleges around North America. Whistlin’ Dixie aims to start conversations about the importance of queer visibility, the power of creative expression and the role of lo-fi music making in the production of queer spaces throughout the country. To book a screening, please contact the filmmaker directly. This project is presented in association with Homoground and is supported by Riot Grrrl, Ink. Records.
Many youth in the US come of age flipping through TV channels or scouring the internet in search of queer life. They are eventually drawn out of their small towns and into the “gay ghettos” of New York or San Francisco, motivated by a lack of queer visibility in their own hometown. Whistlin’ Dixie, however, seeks out folks at the forefront of the Southern queer music scene — living examples that queer community can thrive in these previously written off country roads and postindustrial cities. This documentary showcases these communities and examines their influences, challenges and motivations while putting a face on what it means to be queer, young and Southern.
Each stop on the road provides new characters, scenes, and sounds, tracking the lives of queer musicians and activists from North Carolina to Kentucky. On screen, these characters articulate their unique coming out processes, ties to family history and investments in producing a more tolerant and politically progressive South. These testimonies help convey just how vital queer community is in the South and how these artists are working to insure its future.
Growing up queer in a series of small, suburban towns all over the US, I have always been drawn to creative means of forming queer community. I was inspired to make Whislin’ Dixie after witnessing both the beauty of the South, the strength of its queer music scene and the region’s lack of academic and social visibility within the larger queer population. Many people I’ve talked to, from California to New York, were completely unaware that queers even existed in the South. I wanted to open people’s eyes and change their minds by proving that queer community is not only possible, but can thrive outside of the big metropolitan areas that dot our coasts.