After five years of storytelling on behalf of Alabama’s environmental wealth and over 30 films about citizens working to protect the state’s abundance of natural wonders, the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship is coming to a close.
Over the course of six weeks each summer for the past five years, emerging filmmakers have traveled all over Alabama to meet with locals, elected officials, scientists, business owners, riverkeepers, and other conservation groups.
For many filmmakers the summer fellowship was their introduction to Alabama, with Birmingham serving as their home base. The chance to view the trials and opportunities facing the state through the camera lens often resulted in the filmmakers taking more of a vested interest in the issues at hand.
“They made it really easy for us to fall in love with Alabama, especially as first-timers,” 2016 fellow Liza Slutskaya told the Birmingham News last fall. “I would love to come back here in a heartbeat, but I think they also made it really easy for us to become concerned about this beautiful place because they opened our eyes to a very diverse range of pressing environmental needs here.”
Made possible through the support and partnership of local and statewide conservation groups, the Southern Exposure films continue to screen in classrooms, at partner meetings, festivals, and presentations across Alabama. Thanks to Black Warrior Riverkeeper and the Birmingham Public Library System, DVDs of the Southern Exposure films are also available to the public in all 19 Birmingham Public Library locations, and the 2015 and 2016 films are now available in all 21 Jefferson County Library locations outside of the BPL system.
Numerous films from past fellowship years have been selected for screening in juried film festivals nationwide, including the Wild and Scenic Film Festival, Sidewalk Film Festival, and most recently in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital.
Though the fellowship is no longer accepting applications for new fellows, the impact of the program will continue to reach audiences across Alabama and beyond.
“It’s been amazing to watch the program’s growth over the past five years, and we are so grateful for all of the ongoing support for the Southern Exposure films,” said Keith Johnston, Managing Attorney of SELC’s Birmingham office. “The stories told through these films evoke a range of emotions and will continue to shed light on the importance of protecting the beautiful, special places throughout Alabama.”