South Carolina ETV

Southern Lens is a showcase for independent film from and about the South, culled from film festivals and presented by South Carolina ETV. By turns warm, humorous, compelling, and heart-breaking, each film presents a place and time in Southern culture as seen through the eyes of one filmmaker.

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Southern Lens

“Ilona Upstairs” and “Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie”



These are two powerful documentaries about two very talented women.  "Ilona Upstairs" documents Ilona Royce-Smithkin, a PBS pioneer who taped many of the first instructional painting programs at South Carolina ETV in the 1970s. She lives in a NYC apartment above filmmaker Melissa Hammel, who aspires to unearth some of Ilona's many skeletons in order to learn how one transitions from a place of great sorrow to a place of great joy. "Fried Chicken and Sweet Potato Pie" tells the story of Edna Lewis, an African American chef and cookbook author who mentored a young chef named Scott Peacock early in his career. Their connection through food grew over the years into a strong working relationship and friendship. At age 89, Ms. Lewis developed early signs of dementia. Scott made a loving decision to become his best friend's caregiver.

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