NACOGDOCHES, TEXAS - As part of its monthly independent film series, the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Art and SFA Friends of the Visual Arts will present a free screening of "A Man Named Pearl" at 7 p.m. Friday, April 1, at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House, 329 E. Main St. in downtown Nacogdoches.

The 78-minute film tells the inspiring story of a self-taught topiary artist Pearl Fryar, who was not welcome in an all-white neighborhood because its residents believed "Black people don't keep up their yards." After moving into a "black" neighborhood in Bishopville, S.C., Fryar set a goal to become the first African-American to win the town's "Yard of the Month Award."

Fryar met that goal and exceeded it. He and his garden have now been featured in dozens of magazines and newspapers as well as on national television programs. Each year, thousands of visitors from across the United States and around the world come to see Fryar's three-and-a-half-acre property, bringing much-needed tourist dollars into Bishopville and Lee County, the poorest county in South Carolina.

"A Man Named Pearl" received the Crystal Heart and Audience Choice awards at the Heartland Film Festival and the Salem Film Festival Audience Award.

According to publicity materials, the film "offers an upbeat message that speaks to respect for both self and others, and shows what one person can achieve when he allows himself to share the full expression of his humanity."

The screening is sponsored in part by the SFA Pineywoods Native Plant Center and Nacogdoches Junior Forum. For more information, please call (936) 468-1131.