My favorite part of Southern Exposure was meeting so many amazing people. I had a lot of fun making my film and traveling to some of the many beautiful areas of Alabama. I love what Southern Exposure represents and was honored to be a part of it!

—Mindy Keeley, 2014 Fellow

Having the chance to explore Alabama's natural landscapes, the mentorship and peer-critique process within a diverse group of filmmakers, and the networking opportunities the process brought with it gave me such a positive experience with a group of peers whose friendship and work I truly value.

—Rhonda Chan Soo, 2013 Fellow

Southern Exposure was an amazing experience – learning about the pressures on the environment, being embraced by Alabama's community of environmental advocates, soaking in beautiful natural treasures, spending a summer with a talented group of filmmakers – I couldn't recommend it more.

—Emily Fraser, 2013 Fellow

They made it really easy for us to fall in love with Alabama, especially as first timers. 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.

—Liza Slutskaya, 2016 Fellow and 2018-19 Program Coordinator

My experience in Alabama in 2014 had a profound impact on me as a filmmaker, but more importantly I linked up with a great posse of friends and collaborators.

—Chris Jones, 2014 Fellow

Through the personalized mentorship and support provided throughout the fellowship, I truly grew as a filmmaker, producer and storyteller, and was able to explore the beauty of Alabama. The fellowship definitely provided the steppingstones to my current career path as a video producer.

—Kaitlin McMurry, 2018 Fellow

Run by an amazing group of experienced filmmakers & passionate advocates, it's impossible to leave this program without an impressive film for your portfolio and meaningful connections to those fighting for important issues across Alabama. I wish I could be a part of this fellowship every summer!

—Celine Francois, 2021 Fellow

I truly believe that Southern Exposure is a MUST for young, southern documentary filmmakers with interests in the realm of Social and Environmental Justice. Not often do you get an opportunity like this in the South, especially one of such value and importance.

—Jeb Brackner, 2019 Fellow

This opportunity allowed me to grow as a professional in the world of environmental filmmaking & gave me skills + insights on how I can use film & media to be a powerful advocate of the natural world. I gained a better appreciation for the culture, people & nature of the beautiful state of Alabama!

—David Diaz, 2018 Fellow

2016 Fellows

Matthew Grcic

Matthew recently graduated from Loyola University Chicago, where he earned his Masters of Communication. As a part of the Digital Media and Storytelling Program, Matthew focused his studies on non-fiction storytelling through film. His films have screened at several film festivals across the Midwest, and his documentary, “Discovering the Truth,” has won several awards including a Student Award for Excellence from the Chicago/Midwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences at the 2015 Chicago Regional Emmy Awards. Matthew has a love for the environment and outdoor recreation, and a passion to tell meaningful, transformative stories through film and photography.

Learn more about this fellow and watch the film.

Scott Schimmel

As a native of the music mecca Athens, Georgia, Scott has always been surrounded by creativity. After a stint working around the globe as an environmental scientist, he came to the realization that he was truly a filmmaker at heart. Currently, Scott is an M.F.A. candidate in the Documentary Film Program at Wake Forest University. His most recent film, “Community Meal,” which follows a group of activists combating food waste, took second place at the 2015 Sustainability Shorts Film Competition and has screened both domestically and internationally.

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Celine Schmidt

Entering her final year in the Brown University-Rhode Island School of Design Dual Degree Program, Celine is pursuing a B.F.A. in Illustration and a B.A. in Science and Society. Her interests include using animation and the fine arts to foster greater public understanding of environmental science topics and the complex social issues surrounding them. In Celine’s future creative work and career, she hopes to focus on issues of environmental inequality.

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Liza Slutskaya

Liza was born in Ukraine and moved to the U.S. when she was five years old with her mother and grandmother, two strong role models who instilled in her a deep respect for other cultures and the arts. A recent graduate from Johns Hopkins University with a B.A. in Anthropology and Film Production, Liza’s research and production interests include community, taboo culture, and identity. In her last year at Johns Hopkins, Liza worked on a film with an accompanying written thesis that focused around small town life along the mega-highway I-95 in South Carolina, a project that has guided her in pursuing documentary filmmaking as a career.

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Cai Thomas

Hailing from Miami, Florida, Cai received her B.A. in Communications and Film Studies from Boston College in 2016. Her short film "Blake Bolden," which follows a professional female hockey player, aired on NESN's Next Producer in 2015. Cai traveled to Belo Horizonte, Brazil in 2016 as a Jacques Salmanowitz Moral Courage in Film Grantee to produce a documentary on gender inequity in waste management with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO). An avid traveler, Cai enjoys connecting with different communities and telling their stories.

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Mary D. Recio

Mary D. is a recent graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her B.A. in Telecommunications and Film. Although originally from Tennessee, Mary D. considers Alabama her true home. An aspiring documentary filmmaker who has discovered her passion for storytelling within the last few years, her work has allowed her to travel across Alabama and develop a deeper understanding of the state from behind the camera. Her most recent film “Shugs” follows a Birmingham tap dancing group of women ages 57 to 75, and was an official selection at the Sidewalk Film Festival in 2015. Mary D. hopes to continue to create films inspired by people, and to grow through the subjects she highlights.

Learn more about this fellow and watch the film.