Sneak peek: 4 trailers from the 2018 SOUTHERN EXPOSURE Film series by the Alabama Rivers Alliance. Premiere is at Altamont School on Thursday, September 13

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Catherine Flowers interviewed by filmmaker Ellen Esling. Photo by Alabama Rivers Alliance

The popular SOUTHERN EXPOSURE Film Fellowship series is back after a one year hiatus.

Thursday, September 13, 7pm at Altamont School, 5 films will be screened for the first time about Alabama’s natural resources and environmental issues that impact the state. And, it’s free!

Filmmakers David Diaz and Kaiitlyn McMurray. Photo courtesy of Alabama Rivers Alliance

Fellows from different parts of the U.S. came to Birmingham this summer to create films on topics impacting Alabama’s environment and beyond.. Michele Forman, the program’s director, Liza Slutskaya, a former fellow, and Kelly Marshall, Alabama Rivers Alliance‘s Communications Manager, provided support and direction to the young emerging filmmakers as they made their way throughout the state and learned of issues facing Alabama.

Voices of the community lifted

A project initially founded by the Southern Environmental Law Center in 2012, the SOUTHERN EXPOSURE series has returned as a program of the Alabama Rivers Alliance.

The premise of the Southern Exposure Film Fellowship is simple. In just six short weeks this summer, 5 filmmakers from across the nation live, work and play in Alabama while creating environmental stories that will be used for advocacy and education for years to come.

“We’ve thoroughly enjoyed hosting all the fellows,” said Cindy Lowry, Executive Director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance. “Their work has been amazing and inspiring. They have also worked with our partners, community members, to make sure that the voices of the community are being lifted up in these films. It’s very rewarding.”

Sneak peek – 4 trailers

In anticipation of the film showcase, the Alabama Rivers Alliance has released 4 of the 5 film trailers.

Here is the sneak peek:


If They Build It, What Will Come Teaser from Southern Exposure on Vimeo.

The Cahaba River is one of the Southeast’s most iconic river systems. Urban sprawl in the state’s largest metropolitan area has already placed a great strain on this important river system and now the proposed Cahaba Beach Road threatens to destroy the area along the Little Cahaba River that is the drinking water source for hundreds of thousands of people in the area. This film exposes the risk of building a road across an important forested stretch of river and how citizens and watershed groups are fighting to protect this precious resource.

WHO’S YOUR FARMER? by Jess Lingle

Who’s Your Farmer? teaser from Southern Exposure on Vimeo.

Do you know where your food comes from? And you can’t say “the grocery store”.

Farming is a practice that impacts our health, our environment, our communities and our world. Knowing where our food really comes from and how safely it is grown is becoming increasingly difficult and clouded. This film explores farming in Alabama through the eyes of local farmers all across the state who care about the land, the water and the people they feed.

ASHES TO ASHES by Kaitlin McMurry

Ashes to Ashes Teaser from Southern Exposure on Vimeo.

A small community in Northeast Alabama. A mayor whose town sits on the river’s banks. A businessman in the Mobile Bay. All of these communities are impacted by coal ash in Alabama.

Coal Ash, a pollution by-product of burning coal, is impacting communities across Alabama. Billions of tons of ash are stored in unlined pits alongside our rivers and stream causing harmful pollution such as mercury, arsenic, and many other heavy metal to be dumped into our rivers, lakes, and bays where we fish, swim, and drink. This film tells the grim story of coal ash in Alabama and what you can do to call on the electric utility companies to become leaders by cleaning up the pollution they have created.


The Accidental Environmentalist: Catherine Flowers Teaser from Southern Exposure on Vimeo.

A mosquito bite decades ago leads Catherine Coleman Flowers on her life’s journey.

The second in the Southern Exposure series, this captivating film brings viewers into the world of Catherine Coleman Flowers, a Lowndes County, Alabama activist who became passionate about the environment when she found out that tropical diseases, like hookworm, were showing up in her community because of sewage treatment problems. Her journey to solve problems at the intersection of poverty, climate change, and politics has taken her from the Alabama Black Belt to Washington, D.C. to Switzerland and back. She shares her special connection to place and invites you in to a day in her life.


Birmingham Alabama
Turkey Creek Nature Preserve. Photo by Pat Byington

Alabama currently has no plan for how we will ensure that future generations have enough clean, affordable water. Our rivers and streams are home to more types of fish and aquatic species than any other state in the country, yet our laws do not consider how much water they need to survive. This film describes the current effort underway to develop an Alabama Water Plan and how having an abundance of water does not mean you can take it for granted without consequences.

Free Event

Photo courtesy of Alabama Rivers Alliance

Keeping with tradition, the premiere on September 13, 7:00pm at The Altamont School will be shown for free. In fact, every Southern Exposure film since 2013 has been posted online at

Along with the films there will be a panel discussion with the filmmakers and state experts.

A can’t miss event, as ARA’s Cindy Lowry describes it, be a part of “lifting up” community voices throughout Alabama.

Come out and meet some of these young filmmakers from other parts of the U.S. Get their impressions of Alabama first-hand and see the work they’ve created for Alabama.

Produced by Bham Now in partnership with the Alabama Rivers Alliance

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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