Yonder Eryk and Lana

Lana Pierce and Eryk Pruitt are the owners of Yonder Southern Cocktails and Brew in downtown Hillsborough.


Hillsborough hasn’t had its own movie theater for decades, but local film lovers won’t have to travel far to gather for independent film this summer. Yonder, a downtown cocktail bar, is partnering with Carrboro Film Fest to host the Hillsborough Summer Film Series. The free, three-part series will feature some of Carrboro Film Fest’s best short film selections in recent years, and several of the filmmakers will be in attendance to participate in Q&A sessions after the screenings.

The film series fits well with the creative programming already in place at Yonder, according to Lana Pierce, who opened the bar in 2019 with her partner Eryk Pruitt. Known as Hillsborough’s unofficial living room and art space, Yonder hosts a variety of events and art installations in addition to serving craft cocktails and other drinks. “When we opened Yonder, we envisioned a comfortable spot where creative-minded people could gather to enjoy and support the arts,” says Pierce. “The film series will be a great addition to the music, comedy, open mic, and other events we already have scheduled for the summer.”

Carrboro Film Fest director Bradley Bethel says the collaboration with Yonder is part of the festival’s effort to engage audiences outside Carrboro. “Hillsborough and Carrboro alike are towns that celebrate and support the arts, so the Hillsborough film series will be a fun way for film lovers across Orange County to connect.”

When Bethel became director of Carrboro Film Fest in 2019, he developed a new mission to showcase the best new Southern films and provide a forum for both celebrating and interrogating Southern culture. He says the three-part film series at Yonder reflects that mission, beginning with the first part, “Southern Chuckles,” a collection of comedies screening on June 22nd. “Southern Thrills,” a collection of suspenseful short films, screens on July 27th, and “Best of North Carolina” screens on August 31st. All screenings will begin at 7 p.m.

Pruitt is especially excited about “Southern Thrills.” In addition to being the co-owner of Yonder, he is an award-winning writer and filmmaker, and his most recent film, “Going Down Slow,” will headline the July 27th event. The film is a Southern noir about a struggling married couple forced to put aside their differences while they attempt to bury a body. “We are so pleased to be able to screen before a Hillsborough audience in conjunction with Carrboro Film Fest,” says Pruitt. “The new Southern direction the festival has adopted fits perfectly with Yonder’s core DNA.”

After more than two years of the pandemic, Bethel sees the film series as a unique way for people to reconnect with their friends and neighbors. “People need this right now. We need opportunities for shared experiences, for appreciating the arts and discussing ideas. Film provides those opportunities unlike anything else, and that’s what the film series is all about.”