Revisiting the Legacy of Flannery O’Connor

On this day in 2019, Flannery was released in theaters. The first documentary to detail the life of renowned writer Flannery O’Connor, this is a creatively-produced, sensitively-crafted, and all around beautiful film directed by Elizabeth Coffman.

Elizabeth Coffman is a documentary film director, writer, and producer whose work often centers around communities in crisis. She runs a production company with Ted Hardin called Long Distance Productions. The company’s films are described on their site as ones which “bridge people, cultures, traditions”.

Elizabeth’s first feature-length doc was Veins in the Gulf (2011), which she co-directed with Ted Hardin. The film is about land loss in Southern Louisiana due to rising sea levels, as well as the effects of frequent oil spills. The film follows the political ramifications from land loss and damage from oil spills on the community, as well as the tragic disappearance of bayou culture as a result. Veins in the Gulf is a compelling exploration of the ways in which coastal communities come together and move forward in a climate crisis.

Elizabeth’s next film was Flannery (2019). She co-directed the documentary with Mark Bosco, an English professor and expert on the work of Flannery O’Connor. The film captures intimate details of Flannery’s life and details her creative process as a writer. With a score by award-winning composer Miriam Cutler (Love, GildaRBG)—made up of songs inspired by Flannery—the documentary features animations, archival footage, and modern-day interviews with scholars and artists. Flannery is an immersive, stunning, and vastly informative viewing experience that truly captures the spirit of Flannery O’Connor.

In an interview with FF2 Contributor Amelie Lasker, Elizabeth discussed the mixed-media nature of the Flannery doc: “For Mark and I both it made a lot of sense, because O’Connor started as a cartoonist, and she was a painter throughout her life, and I think she had this real exaggerated comic sense in her fiction. We had three great female animators who worked on the film, as well as a motion graphics artist who’s a good friend. We had some great artists who completely committed themselves to reading her work, understanding her storytelling, and loved and admired her.”

Alongside her business partner Ted Hardin, Elizabeth has produced a number of films, each of which tell compelling and necessary stories. For example, Venice is Thinking is about the people trying to preserve venetian art and culture from environmental damage and Frenemies: Cuba and the US Embargo examines the fraught relationship between Cuba and the US and details Cuba’s struggle for survival amidst the longest-running embargo to date.

The best stories are the ones that have not yet been told, but that once you hear them, you wonder how it’s possible you haven’t heard them before. Elizabeth is a filmmaker with a keen eye for these types of stories.

© Julia Lasker (7/17/23) FF2 Media


Read Amelie Lasker’s interview with Elizabeth Coffman here.

Learn more about Flannery here.

Learn more about Veins in the Gulf here.

Explore Long Distance Productions further here.


Feature Photo: Flannery O’Conner. Photo by Joe McTyre. Courtesy of Long Distance Productions.

Middle Image: Filmmaker Elizabeth Coffman. Courtesy of Long Distance Productions.

Bottom Photo: Flannery O’Connor with her peacocks. Photo credit: AP / Joe McTyre. Courtesy of Long Distance Productions.

Tags: Documentary Films, Elizabeth Coffman, Flannery, Flannery O'Connor, SWAN of the day

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As an associate for FF2 Media, Julia writes reviews and features for films made by women. She is currently a senior at Barnard College studying Psychology. Outside of FF2, her interests include acting, creative writing, thrift shopping, crafting, and making and eating baked goods. Julia has been at FF2 for almost 4 years, and loves the company and its mission dearly.
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