When people hear the word documentary lately, they think of the big-issue films by filmmakers like Michael Moore and Al Gore.

    Plagues & Pleasures on the Santon Sea, however, offers a different focus on individuals and their communtiy.
In Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea, which will be screened in Beaufort on Friday, November 9th at 7:30 at the Technical College of the Lowcountry, filmmaker Christopher Metzler takes a look at a community far-off the beaten path. His upcoming projects show a similar focus on such characters as gay truckers, Christian backpackers, and taxidermists. What do the stories from the fringes reveal about the mainstream? How can stories of water in other communities inform the Sea Islands? Plagues and Pleasures documents how a tiny community is threatened by the growing demand for water in the region.

    Created in the early 1900’s by a monumental engineering disaster, the Salton Sea is now nothing more than a forgotten blue jewel in the midst of the California desert. But on the shores of this dying man-made lake a bizarre yet utterly American community struggles to survive. Here retirees rub shoulders with Hungarian revolutionaries seeking refuge from Russian prosecution. Welfare families ditching the violence of the inner cities co-exist with religious eccentrics. And against all of these communities is the backdrop of the sea—both an “ecological disaster” and one of California’s few remaining wetlands.
     In Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea, first-time filmmaker Christopher Metzler- in partnership with Jeff Springer – offers audiences an intimate portrait of the strange and wonderful characters, who cling to the shore of the Salton in spite of its empty lots, strange smells, and frequent wildlife die-offs. Plagues and Pleasures has garnered much praise from the press and critics. The Village Voice called it “heartbreaking, sidesplitting parade of humanity,” while the Hollywood Reporter described it as “fascinating.” It has won “Best Documentary” at numerous film festivals, including both the Atlanta Underground Film Festival and the Savannah Film Festival, where it was also awarded the “HBO Producers Award.” Informative programs detailing each film will be printed by Murr's.
     “We have a deep affection for outsiders, and we always want to explore different subcultures," Metzler said of his filmmaking group.
     Southern Circuit also now includes opening shorts: An Abstraction on the Chronology of Will, directed by Ben Collins and Kevin Phillips (Fiction) will be screened on Nov. 9th as well. William Porten is nothing short of apathetic and despondent after a break-up with his girlfriend. He joins the military, becomes a Special Op, and lives with a sustained note of danger until being faced with a firing squad in the middle of the desert. Through an act of divine intervention his life is saved and his will to live is revitalized.
    In Beaufort, the Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers is presented by Arts Council of Beaufort County, Beaufort County School District, and Technical College of the Lowcountry. Screening are held at Technical College of the Lowcountry's MacLean Hall (Building 12 on the Beaufort campus.) All screenings are scheduled for Friday evenings and doors open at 7pm with films beginning at 7:30pm ; Adults ~ $7; Students ~ $4; TCL Students ~ $1. Visit the website, www.beaufortcountyarts.com, for more details and links to the Southern Arts Federation, organizer of Southern Circuit through eight southern states.
    The filmmakers also discusses his artform with students at the Bluffton High Film Institute. At 5pm each film night, the filmmaker will have dinner at Panini's on Bay St. in downtown Beaufort, and people are welcome to join him, dutch. If you would like to attend please RSVP to Emily at ACBC, 379-ARTS.
    Then on February 1st, Southern Circuit returns with #4 of 6 – Apparition of the Eternal Church by filmmaker Paul Festa wherein 31 artists and thinkers listen to a ten-minute piece of music through headphones and describe what they hear.