Filmmaker Jess Kohl has directed a new campaign for Facebook, comprised of a series of shorts following unique communities across the Southern states of America who challenge traditional stereotypes of life in the US.
Kohl was invited by Facebook to direct a series of mini documentary films seeking out communities from across the South West of America who have a strong connection with one another, both on and offline. For the director, it was important that the films felt authentic to the region, but also question preconceptions of the communities who inhabit the American South. The aim was to discover groups with unique activities and passions, who share a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.
Jess Kohl commented: “Through research we found Tulsa Threat, an all women’s queer football team, whose weekly practice that we shot took place on the outskirts of Tulsa in minus freezing conditions. We found Ballet Folklorico, and filmed them performing on a rocky vista in El Paso, looking out into Mexico, where their proud traditions stem from. We shot Square Dancing in Las Cruces, where older generations who might otherwise be alone on a Monday night come together in their finest western wear to dance like they did in their youth.
We drove across Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma, and the sparse landscape drove home the importance of groups and their power to allow people to go from isolation to integration. I wanted to let the visual language of the films stem from the groups, to really capture their essence in an authentic and meaningful way. To let them inform the tone and aesthetic of each film, whilst retaining a beautiful intimacy.