2 Southern Exposure documentaries notch EarthxFilm Festival Impact Awards

In the center L to R – Justinn Overton, Victoria Miller and John Haley. Photo via Alabama Rivers Alliance

Two 2020 Southern Exposure documentaries were recognized with an Impact Award at the EarthxFilm Festival in Dallas. The film festival is one of the largest and most prestigious environmental film festivals in the country.

The Southern Exposure films honored were A Fisher’s Right to Know and Barriers to Bridges. The two films  featured initiatives by the Coosa Riverkeeper and Alabama Audubon and other groups working in Alabama..

Earlier this week we caught up with two of the organizations featured, and the Alabama Rivers Alliance, to get their reaction to winning an Impact Award.

About Southern Exposure

Photo via Southern Exposure Films website

First, a little bit of background about the Southern Exposure Film Series, the program that produced the award winning documentaries.

A project of the Birmingham-based Alabama Rivers Alliance, the popular Southern Exposure Film Series is a film fellowship program that has actively raised awareness about Alabama’s incredible natural resources and important environmental issues since 2012. 

If you have an interest in protecting Alabama’s natural heritage and learning how to make a difference, spend a weekend binge watching Southern Exposure films. 

Here is a link to their catalog of films over the past 5 years. You can also download the Southern Exposure channel on Roku and Amazon Fire.


When I reached out to  Kelly Marshall, the Alabama Rivers Alliance’s Communications Director and Southern Exposure’s Impact Producer about the Impact Awards, she wanted to recognize  filmmaker fellows John Haley and Robin Crane and all the groups involved with the project.  

“We are beyond thrilled and beaming with pride that these films are resonating and impacting their audiences. Southern Exposure is designed to amplify voices that might not be heard otherwise and to celebrate the incredible work happening across Alabama. To have the organizations featured in these films – our partners and friends – recognized for their impact is such a great reward for us that goes beyond introducing audiences to these issues.”

A Fisher’s Right to Know

How about a fishing trip? Photo by Christine Hull
How about a fishing trip? Photo by Christine Hull

Justinn Overton, Executive Director of the Coosa Riverkeeper, actually attended the EarthXFilm award ceremony in Dallas, Texas. 

“This particular documentary (A Fisher’s Right to Know) was very important because it highlights where we are in the state of Alabama with the intergenerational impact that fish consumption advisories have on families here in Alabama,” she said.

Justinn praised director John Haley for doing a fantastic job at communicating to the viewer the importance of fish consumption advisories in their community, the Coosa watershed and beyond. In fact, because of the Southern Exposure film, and the national recognition it has now received from the Impact Award, they may be starting a national movement.

“According to recent research at UAB  there’s only nine states that have a Fisher’s Right to Know law codified. It’s been a great opportunity for us to elevate this issue. I’m very proud of where this program has grown and the documentary is definitely a proud moment for us.”


Barriers to Bridges

Photo from Alabama Audubon Facebook page

Sarah Randolph, Communications Director at Alabama Audubon provided Bham Now a statement about Barrier to Bridges, a powerful documentary about the growing environmental movement’s attention to justice, diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Alabama Audubon was honored to be a part of the 2020 Southern Exposure film Barriers to Bridges, which highlighted our partnership with the Joe Farm (Connecting with Birds and Nature Tours) in Newbern, Alabama. We strive to be the Audubon for everyone, creating a safe and inclusive space for all to enjoy birds and the natural world here in beautiful Alabama. The Joe Family has been a great partner for us in our Black Belt Birding Initiative, building birding ecotourism in one of the most economically challenged rural areas in the country. We were absolutely thrilled to learn our film, which featured several other local nonprofits, won an Impact Award at the 2021 EarthX Film Festival! It’s rewarding to know our conservation message is reaching a larger audience, and the importance of connecting with your community in these efforts to build bridges where historically there were barriers.”

More Films to Come

Southern Exposure
Photo from the Southern Exposure Film Series

This important  work never ends. The new class of Southern Exposure film fellows will be arriving in Alabama this summer to create new compelling stories about Alabama’s  natural heritage. The Alabama Rivers Alliance will offer free screenings of the new batch of films throughout Alabama, starting in Birmingham, this fall. Follow along with upcoming screenings by clicking here. 

Pat Byington
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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