Miss Lil’s Camp


Miss Lil's Camp is a documentary film about the director of an exclusive summer camp for girls from upper middle class Southern homes. Miss Lil, as Lillian Smith was known, taught Laurel Falls' campers that segregation was wrong and interracial love relationships permissible. She expressed her thoughts and radical ideas at a time when Southern leadership was committed to a racially segregated society and Jim Crow laws permeated every aspect of social life. Some young campers were repulsed by her ideas while others embraced them.

In short, Lillian Smith was no ordinary woman and Laurel Falls no ordinary camp. Radical as the camp was, nothing prepared the parents of campers, or indeed the rest of the South, for Lillian Smith's first novel, Strange Fruit (1944). The story of a white Southern man's love for a black girl, the book was banned in Boston and distributed under wraps in the South. Public reaction was swift and harsh. Some campers were forbidden to return to camp; others returned despite opposition from home.

In the film, we meet three former campers and a former camp employee who return to Laurel Falls Camp, perched on Screamer Mountain in Clayton, Georgia. Weaving narratives of former campers, the commentary of historian Dr. Rose Gladney, and rare audio-visual footage of Lillian Smith, the film recreates camp life in the thirties and forties. The film juxtaposes the past and present to elicit dramatic differences but also similarities between the 1940's and life today.


Suzanne Niedland and Anberin Pasha

Suzanne Niedland

Suzanne Niedland and Anberin Pasha

Roger Hunt

Cinematography & Sound
Sean Lewis; Suzanne Niedland; Anberin Pasha; Craig Roberts; Jake Springfield

Audio Sweetening
Dave Wruck

Poster Cover Design
Michael Morris

Produced In Conjunction With
The Documentary Institute, College of Journalism & Communications, University of Florida




  • National PBS Distribution
  • An Evening of Angelus (by special invitation in 
Park City during Sundance)
  • Artivist Film Festival & Artivist Awards
  • Ashland Independent Film Festival

  • Atlanta Film Festival
  • Baltimore Women's Film Festival Emerging Cinemas
  • Big Bear Lake International Film Festival
  • GirlFest Hawaii
  • Girls for Change Film Festival (Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies Old Miss Campus)
  • Jacksonville Film Festival
  • Oxford Film Festival
  • Palm Beach International Film Festival
  • Reel Film Festival
 (invitation-only festival was created by HSDFI as part of the festivities planned in conjunction with the opening of the William J. Clinton Presidential Center)
  • SunScreen Film Festival
  • UNIFEM Women's International Film Festival
  • East Lansing Film Festival
  • Georgia State University
 Outreach Screening (sponsored by Georgia Humanities Council Grant)
  • GSU's Women's Studies Institute and GSU's Office of Student Life and Leadership/Intercultural Relations
  • Hot Springs Documentary Festival
 Winner of the International Student Film Festival Competition, ISFFSH (International Student Film Festival Hollywood)
  • Lillian Smith Book Awards at University of Georgia 
Outreach Screening (sponsored by Georgia Humanities Council Grant)
  • Wonder of Women Film Festival


IMDb page
Official site (coming soon)


Click here to visit purchase Miss Lil's Camp merchandise.

Meagan Stockemer

Program Director, East Lansing Film Festival Director

Thanks again for allowing us to screen Miss Lil's Camp--it was a great success in our human rights program.

Jean Tait

Executive Director, Jacksonville Film Festival

I just can't recommend Miss Lil's Camp highly enough for people to see.

Jake Jacobson

Director, Atlanta Film Festival

We have had 1600 submissions for this years festival ... Congrats!--only 7% of this year's entries will make it to the 30th Annual fest.

Charlene Ball, Ph.D.

Academic Professional Women's Studies Institute, Georgia State University

An excellent film that raised many important issues and gave some important historical information to a new generation that may not know about Lillian Smith and her work.

Kale Zelden

Assistant Director, Angelus Awards (after reading AP Article in Rome, Italy)

Congratulations! I have been in Rome the last week or so and I picked up a copy of the International Herald Tribune, and there you where in the People section along with Anberin (your names, not photos...alas). I couldn't believe it!!!

Debbie Curley

Development Director, Southern Regional Council

I thought the screening of Miss Lil's Camp and ensuing conversation were all wonderful.

Debra Zimmerman

Executive Director, Women Make Movies

I finally had a chance to screen Miss Lil's Camp. Congratulations--you did a wonderful job. I think its a really, really solid, well made film.

Charles Judson

Atlanta Based Film and Video Magazine, CinemAtl

Miss Lil’s Camp does more in 26 minutes than most documentary features do in 90 minutes….This small film succeeds where big budget fare, such as the heavy handed Mona Lisa Smiles fail. Miss Lil’s Camp is an honest and emotionally engaging love song to the strength and fierce intelligence of women.

Elaine Mello

Producer, Film Department Artivist 2005 Film Festival

I love Miss Lil's Camp! It is inspirational, sweet and very engaging.

Jan Holmes

Board of Directors UNIFEM Gulf Coast Chapter

Miss Lil's Camp is perfect for our film festival, as we are showing other films about women who have made a difference in the world.

Bijan C. Bayne


I watched Miss Lil's Camp last night and loved it!

Monika Moreno

Director, Angelus Awards

What a wonderful film to honor. You made our job easy!

Last evening the showing of Miss Lil's Camp was truly one of the most exciting moments in my life. Your powerful artistry awakened many nostalgic memories in my past as the scenes drew back the curtain of two summers spent at LFC with Miss Lil. Your achievement is beautiful and heart blessing to all of us who appreciate the finest in the creative arts. I will share this experience with many of my friends and family...from a fellow St. Petersburg resident...what a small world.

As I told you, I was at camp the summers of 1936 - 37. I think these are the years as it was a time of great sadness in my family having lost my mother to cancer in 1935 and my father to mental illness and later on to suicide in 1940, Laurel Falls was the best possible therapy for my broken 12 year old heart. I remember the loving young counselor assigned to our cabin. Her name was Lavinia...perhaps Scott was her last name...it is hard to reach back into my memory bank. Another vivid and powerful impression given to me those summers was the music appreciation class held in the gym. A Japanese teacher played selections from La Boheme and Madame Butterfly by some great orchestra.It mesmerized my imagination and healed some of the pain within me. From then on, classical music was my favorite choice, eventually leading me to work for an opera singer while in Vienna....how strange the path that life leads us upon from childhood to here now in Ashland and our encounter at the showing of your first documentary!! I have always believed in miracles and this was one for which I will treasure. If you could peek into my monotonous daily routine at 80 yrs old, you might understand when I describe last evening as like a 4th of July celebration with fireworks and sky all aglow!!

With much joy and gratitude to you.

Tonsa Jorde (formerly known as Jackie Watland, 1936-37 Laurel Falls Camp)