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 Program Coordinator

Category: Public health

Ashes to Ashes

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.
Directed by Kaitlin McMurry.

The Accidental Environmentalist: Catherine Flowers

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.
Directed by Ellen Esling.

Who's Your Farmer?

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. This film explores farming in Alabama through the eyes of local farmers all across the state that care about the land, the water and the people they feed. Directed by Jess Lingle.

What a Waste

People believe that what they flush down the toilet gets cleaned at a wastewater treatment facility. But in Alabama, the lack of funding to repair and maintain aging infrastructure often leads to untreated wastewater being dumped in places where families swim, paddle and fish. Even worse, there is no comprehensive system to notify the public when water quality has been compromised. In the absence of agency enforcement, how can citizens take action and hold these facilities accountable? Directed by Cai Thomas.

Fishermen's Right to Know

Just below the H. Neely Henry Dam on the Coosa River, Mr. Woods catches catfish to fry and eat. Like many lakes and rivers in Alabama, this spot has a fish consumption advisory, indicating that the fish may contain dangerous levels of mercury and other contaminants. The Alabama Department of Public Health suggests limiting or avoiding consumption of some fish species in certain locations--information found on the agency’s website--but there is no legal requirement to post signs for fishermen. Where does that leave Mr. Woods and others who depend on fishing for sustenance? Directed by Natasha Raheja.

Down the Drain

The public is well-aware that a failed sewage system left Jefferson County in debt and eventually bankrupt; however, sewage problems still exist throughout the state. The small community of Uniontown, a town extremely affected by failed sewage infrastructure, shows what is at stake and why these problems must be addressed. Directed by Carlos Estrada.

Red Dirt Town

For nearly 40 years, the Monsanto company discharged PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) directly into streams and landfills in the town of Anniston, Alabama, leaving a toxic legacy that residents and conservationists are still dealing with today. Directed by Spenser Gabin.

For the Fish

In a state with 77,000 miles of rivers and streams, fishing is a way of life for many Alabama residents and supports a vibrant seafood and tourism industry. But Alabama's waterways--and the people and wildlife who depend on them--are facing an unprecedented array of threats, from the BP oil spill to coal ash pollution to contaminated runoff from construction sites. Directed by Jessica Pic.