Posted on: Friday - Mar 22, 2024

Local talent, statewide high-school projects, workshops from Hollywood professionals, and international films from 3/23-3/24.

The Southern Oasis Film Festival will take place at Governor’s Crossing Stadium 14 Theater in Sevierville, TN, and bring two fun-filled and movie-packed days to East Tennessee March 23-24th. Now in its fifth year, the festival began in Knoxville before shifting online during the pandemic. The festival’s title sponsor is Anakeesta. It also receives support from the Tennessee Entertainment Commission.

“I’m very excited to share the festival’s growth with the community now that we are back in person,” said Southern Oasis founder and artistic director Thomas Moore. “Looking back on its humble beginning and then seeing what we are doing now makes the future look very bright.”

In addition to screening over sixty films playing as part of the festival’s competition, the event will feature a host of programming and special guests, including a screening of Gabriel Mann’s firefighter documentary Hotshot that will be free to all first responders. New this year is a curated block of movies by and about the disability community in collaboration with Spark, a Knoxville nonprofit that connects people with disabilities in East Tennessee to the adaptive technology tools and services they need to live with maximum independence and dignity.

“Sharing the Spark is always a joy and a privilege,” Julie Owenby, Spark’s Pediatric Volunteer Coordinator, said. “Every new audience is an opportunity to make new partners.”

The festival’s keynote guests will be Hallmark/Great American Family writer Bob Saenz, who will give a workshop on breaking into the Christmas cable movie business and screen his recent film, The Farmer and the Belle. The festival’s closing night film, Surprised by Oxford, received a national release last fall and was produced by Franklin, TN-based Nook Lane Entertainment. Director Ryan Whitaker and the film’s star, Rose Reid (Finding You, The Shift, Pure Flix’s A Thousand Tomorrows), will attend and participate in a Q&A. 

Southern Oasis is the only film festival in Tennessee to feature a statewide high-school film showcase and a block of work from Tennessee community college students. The festival will also show films made at Carson-Newman University, where executive director Dr. Jerod Ra’Del Hollyfield serves as an Associate Professor of Communication and directs the film program. These screenings will take place Saturday afternoon before the unveiling of the films made for Southern Oasis’s signature Two-Week Twister competition, in which local filmmakers premiere shorts they wrote, shot, and finished within the allotted 14-day window.

In addition to screenings, the festival will host a series of workshops from local filmmakers who have built national reputations in the film industry, including Ryan Thiessen, Greg Swinson, and Caitlin Cyan–the team behind the Morristown-shot horror feature Hunt Her Kill Her that earned a national theatrical release last year. The trio will tell attendees “How to Make a Movie with No Money” and give a practical VFX horror makeup tutorial. Screenwriters Jon Meyers and Emily Brooks will record an episode of their new podcast, Write Better Together, live. Additionally, Austin-based documentarian Jessica Solce will conduct a workshop about documentary ethics before screening her new film, Death Athletic: A Dissident Architecture, about the First and Second Amendment battle over the blueprints for 3D-printed guns. 

“Our goal with Southern Oasis is to create an event that connects professionals across the state who have sustained impressive careers that also appeals to the various facets of the East Tennessee community who may have never been to a film festival,” Hollyfield said.

The festival kicks off on Saturday, March 23, at 10 a.m., with a block of vintage Saturday Morning Cartoons that includes free cereal. A full schedule can be found on the festival’s Facebook page ( 

Weekend passes, day passes, and individual tickets can be purchased online at  

The Southern Oasis Film Festival is a fiscally sponsored project of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville, a nonprofit organization. Additional sponsors include Little Arrow Resort, MCPainting, the Carson-Newman University Arts Initiative, Right Price Auto, Farrow Skincare, Fright-Rags, The Pamphleteer-Nashville, Socksmith, Calloway’s Lamp & Shade, The Roaming Gnome Pub & Eatery, Escape Reality Comics, and Mug & Mason. 


Jerod Ra'Del Hollyfield, Ph.D. 

Director of Film Studies

Carson-Newman University



"Framing Empire: Postcolonial Adaptations of Victorian Literature in Hollywood"