Southern Exposure Films Premiere

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September 17, 2020
7:00pm Central Time
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The Southern Exposure Film Series is a film fellowship program bringing emerging filmmakers to live, work and play in Alabama while they create short documentaries that celebrate Alabama’s natural beauty, break down wonky policy and scientific issues, and inspire action through storytelling. This year, due to COVID-19, the fellows worked remotely from Oakland, Chicago, Tulsa and Duluth, directing an on-the-ground in Alabama film "crew of two", to create compelling stories you do not want to miss. This unique experience, while challenging, highlights an innovative way of storytelling. Learn more about Southern Exposure at

Video Descriptions

OVEE Standby Slate

Southern Exposure Preview Screening

90 minutes


  • Mike McKenzie

    Mike will moderate the OVEE side of our event tonight, he is Alabama Public Television's Director of Programming and Public Information. He oversees APT’s broadcast schedule, advertising, on-air promotion and fundraising, the APT website, social media, special events and viewer services. Mike has been serving the citizens of Alabama with APT for over 30 years.

  • Co-Moderator Avatar
    Mike McKenzie - Alabama Public Television


  • Panelist Avatar
    Cindy Lowry


    Cindy (she/her) will be the moderator for the post screening discussion, she is the executive director of the Alabama Rivers Alliance. She joined the staff in 2005 as Watershed Leadership Coordinator and was promoted to Executive Director in 2007. A native of Alabama, Cindy was born and raised in Oneonta, Alabama. She received her BS degree in Wildlife Science from Auburn University and her Masters of Public Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The focus of her masters’ thesis was citizen participation in public policy. Cindy has more than 15 years of experience in the conservation nonprofit sector. She joined the staff of the Alabama Rivers Alliance in 2005 and was promoted to executive director in 2007. Cindy has been recognized as a “Wonderful Outstanding Woman” from the Metro Birmingham branch of the NAACP (2012), named one of the “Women Who Shape the State” by (2016) and awarded an Auburn University Alumni Spirit of Sustainability Award (2017) and has been inducted in UAB’s MPA Hall of Fame (2020). Cindy is the former President of the Board of Directors for Alabama Arise and was a long-time member of the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Locust Fork River.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Michele Forman


    Michele (she/her) is the Series Producer for Southern Exposure. She is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and co-founder/director of the Media Studies Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Given her extensive background in film, Michele has played an invaluable role in the Southern Exposure film fellowship while serving as the Series Producer in 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019. She started her film career as Director of Development at Spike Lee's 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, and has worked on numerous highly acclaimed films. Michele received a B.A. from Harvard University, and an M.A. from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Robin Crane


    ROBIN CRANE (they/them) is a multimedia storyteller exploring the intersection of racial, ecological and economic justice. With a focus on film and animation, they aim to spotlight community-driven solutions to the crises of our times. In addition to freelance work for nonprofits, they support communications for Pathways to Equity, coordinate media for SustainUS, and teach film with girls and non-binary youth at Reel Stories. They studied Environmental Studies and Human Centered Design at Dartmouth College and have since been learning and living at Canticle Farm in Oakland, CA. Some creations can be found at @reeverthingproject.

  • Panelist Avatar
    Joe Fairbanks


    JOE FAIRBANKS (he/him) is a conservationist and storyteller from Northern Minnesota. He earned his BA in Film & Media Studies at Dartmouth College and later worked as Dartmouth’s Sustainability Fellow. In 2018, Joe received Dartmouth Film & Media Studies’ J. Blair Watson Award, and in 2019 the Center for Jackson Hole named him an Emerging Leader in the fields of Conservation and Outdoor Recreation. His debut film, Homecoming - A Boundary Waters Story (2019), was a finalist in the 2020 Paddling Film Festival World Tour and premiered at Wild & Scenic Film Festival’s flagship festival.

  • Panelist Avatar
    John Haley


    JOHN HALEY (he/him) is a filmmaker from Minnesota with an interest in the intersection of documentary film and social advocacy. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame's programs in Film, Television, and Theatre and Peace Studies, John has worked with organizations such as CBS News and Art Works Projects to develop his media practice. He is currently an MFA Candidate in Documentary Media at Northwestern University. John has independently directed several short films with topics ranging from the death penalty in America to LGBTQ+ identity within the Catholic Church. These films have played at film festivals such as Reeling: The Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival, Tallahassee Film Festival, SENE Film, Music, and Arts Festival, and the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. With the Southern Exposure fellowship, John hopes to continue to create films which tell pressing stories about the world.

  • Panelist Avatar
    McKinleigh Lair


    MCKINLEIGH LAIR (she/her) is an emerging documentary filmmaker from Oklahoma who strives to illuminate issues, question preconceptions, and facilitate timely societal conversations through documentary storytelling. She has assisted on productions for The New York Times and Kartemquin Films, and currently screens for the Camden International Film Festival and POV. She has supported film festival operations at Raindance as an intern and True/False as a photographer. As the Oklahoma representative for PBS American Portrait, she shoots and edits mini documentaries about residents in the community that raised her. As a Park Scholar at Ithaca College (class of May 2019) she majored in Documentary Studies and Production, minored in Anthropology, and studied abroad in Seoul, London, and Jönköping, Sweden. Her senior thesis documentary, One Nation Under Guns, was nominated for the 2020 College Television Award ("College Emmy"). Her most recent film will premiere online with PBS during the summer of 2020.

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The views and opinions expressed in this online screening are those of the presenters and participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of ITVS, public broadcasting, or any entities hosting the screening.