Since its inception in 2007, the Indie Grits
film festival has grown past the point of national cool to the point of serious critical acclaim
The independent film festival is hosted by Columbia's Nickelodeon Theater
, South Carolina’s only arthouse movie theater, and it’s staffed by the kind of people you would expect to see in retro-filtered photographs on blogs across the United States and Europe. But the staff doesn’t just look the part — they actually know their stuff, as is shown through the main staples (outside of the incredible films on view!) of the April 11–20 event. Here are a few of the standouts that return each year:
* Opening Night Party:
Traditionally, this is a free party that is open for all ages. The 2014 inception will be in the parking lot behind the Nickelodeon Theatre at 1607 Main St. on Friday, April 11. Fun and soulful tunes are always in abundance, as is delicious food and drink.
* Kindie Grits:
On the Saturdays of the festival, kids can try their little hands at the tasks that go into filmmaking. Every kid loves to be in front of or behind a camera — now’s your chance as a parent to see if film camp might be worth a look.
* Hip Hop Family Day:
Confession No. 1 of 2 — I’m 800 times more excited about this than my seven-year-old son, who never misses his hip-hop dance class. Hip Hop Family Day is full of family-friendly music and activities focused on hip hop culture: its history, importance and ability to empower listeners of all ages.
* Indie Camp Remixed:
If you’re pretty sure your kid has proven his or her talent or proclivity for film, this weeklong filmmaking camp is something you should sign up for well in advance. Your high schooler might actually smile at you and give you a hug.
* Indie Bits:
A newer member of the crowd, Indie Bits is for the gamer who knows the most significant lines to every classic movie since 1968. This is an all-day celebration of independent gaming and interactive media in collaboration with the USC Center for Digital Humanities. Indie Bits is designed to foster collaboration between developers, artists and filmmakers and will feature a gaming showcase, workshops, a Moving Image Research Collection (MIRC) screening, classic film War Games and an after-party.
* Spork in Hand Puppet Slam:
Confession No. 2 of 2 — I’m more than a little obsessed with this. The first time I went to a Spork In Hand Puppet Slam performance was with my silliest friend, Matt. Matt also happens to be one of my smartest friends. Combine the super-silly with the super-smart in a gritty experiment with puppets, lighting, and some puppet-masters who might be too smart for their own good and you’re going to have a night of side-splitting hilarity. (Combine all of that with a seat next to Matt and you’ll have to just throw your dignified side out the window) Note: This event is NOT child-friendly. But NOT to be missed.
* Slow Food at Indie Grits:
Okay, another confession — I always gorge myself at this event. The food is fabulous. This partnership between Slow Food Columbia and Indie Grits features hors d’oeuvres by the Midlands’ most sustainable, talented chefs and potluck dishes by attendees. Each dish at this party at 701 Whaley highlights at least one local, sustainable ingredient. YUM.
Best bets for extracurricular eating:
If you are planning a trip to Columbia for Indie Grits, there are some staples to check out while and keep yourself fueled for binging on great cinema:
* The Whig:
Coyly nicknamed “North America’s Greatest Dive Bar,” The Whig is one of the best places in town to match your beer connoisseurship with your cravings for finely tuned carbs. Once you’re seated in the dark, cavernous basement, you can’t go wrong with the Three Cheese Grilled Cheese with bacon (I skip the tomato), The Byron pizza (jalepeno, bacon, feta and pineapple make this a sultry treat) or the Berger Burger (pimento with a kick!).
* The Oak Table:
Open since October 2012, the Oak Table has become a part of Main Street’s tapestry. The bartenders are true mixologists, and two people can really make a fast but amazing meal by sharing a charcuterie board, a braised meatball, and a roasted beet salad. But I’d also recommend the Nueske’s Bacon. You’ll dream about that bacon later. Heck. Sit at the bar and order everything.
* Garibaldi Café of Columbia:
You might get a sideways glance if you show up wearing jeans and a T-shirt. But if you’re the type who, while in New York, can move easily from swanky Cipriani’s to the more edgy Spotted Pig in the same night, head on over. The wine list is long and the mussels are plentiful.