REEL SOUTH

The people, culture, landscape and history of the South both captivate and bewilder. In the cherished tradition of Southern storytelling, REEL SOUTH reveals the South's proud yet complicated heritage, as told by a diversity of voices and perspectives.

REEL SOUTH is a cooperative documentary series between the South’s PBS-member stations: UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina, South Carolina ETV, Alabama Public Television, Arkansas’ AETN, Georgia Public Broadcasting, and Louisiana Public Broadcasting.

Episodes

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About Season 7

Season 7 is a study in survival and belief. With a formidable cast of unforgettable women (and one enlightened mortician), six new films offer audiences a look past the specter of our present. Difficult jobs, anxious families, and hardened communities shape their stories, but with an assured vision for a future of their own making, these Southerners offer a powerful argument for perseverance.

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    Little Satchmo

    Little Satchmo is an intimate exploration of the iconic Louis Armstrong's life and legacy through his relationship with the daughter that the public never knew existed. Based on a revealing memoir written by Armstrong's silent daughter, the film seeks to correct a historical narrative relying on caricature for too long.

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    Bury Me at Taylor Hollow

    After spending 15 years working in the conventional funeral industry, a passionate mortician is paving uncharted territory to help create the first natural burial ground of its kind in Tennessee. Bury Me at Taylor Hollow recounts his personal journey from mortuary traditionalist to global-thinking environmentalist, as he seeks a better place for his community to lay to rest.

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    Quaranteened

    Quaranteened follows the lives of four sisters from a blended family in Durham, North Carolina, as they cope with the anxiety of their disrupted lives and stolen dreams with humor, self-reflection, and just enough mayhem to pass the time. Filmed by their filmmaker dad as the days begin to blur one into the other, these girls languish, suspended in time, like so many of us still.

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    Florida Woman

    When the media gets wind of Mary Thorn’s alligator story, she’s characterized as just another crazy “Florida Man.” Florida Woman peels back the curtain on the media’s portrayal of a nurturing woman –– an ex-pro wrestler turned animal lover, who challenges the state in order to save her pet alligator. Mary and her gator Rambo reveal the humanity and complexity behind the viral headlines.

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    Madame Pipi

    Madame Pipi follows the lives of Haitian bathroom attendants working in Miami’s hottest nightclubs. Often invisible, underpaid, and underappreciated, their stories showcase a custodial world built on the backs of women of color, in a city known for debauchery, diversity, and exceptionalism.

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    Broken Wings

    In picturesque Hot Springs, Arkansas, a one-winged American black vulture named Adonis captivates a small town. The bird is lovingly cared for by two devoted women: Jayne, a down-on-her-luck Arkansas waitress, and Ann, her 80-year-old British roommate. Broken Wings asks: How can a bird who devours the dead inspire the living?

About Season 6

Season 6 of Reel South tackles this moment in American life with nuance and camaraderie. This collection of films finds common ground through ritual and participation with stories that face up to the past and bend to the future by finding pathways away from absolution and toward equity.

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    Muni

    A jovial love letter to the game of golf, told by the Black golfers who, despite segregation and racist systems, built a vibrant culture and lasting community on a municipal golf course in Asheville, North Carolina. Narrated by popular singer and golfer Darius Rucker. Directed by Paul Bonesteel

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    Flat Town

    A small Cajun town in rural Louisiana holds an annual exhibition football game between the majority-Black public school and majority-White private school, called the Tee Cotton Bowl. This meditative small town portrait examines the effects of racial segregation, and a range of perspectives on the game.

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    You Asked for the Facts

    Four years after the historic enrollment of James Meredith, student activists at the University of Mississippi devise a plan to defy a speaker-ban in 1966 by inviting Robert F. Kennedy, who reveals the truth about back-room politics, the belief-systems of those holding the highest power, and how campus-activism shapes the future of civil rights and all those who bear witness.

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    That's Wild

    When Atlanta teens Cliff, Ahmani, and Nicholas attempt to trek four, 12,000 ft snow-capped peaks in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, they face the thrills, joy, and struggles of navigating the wilds of Colorado and daily life back home in Georgia. Directed by Michiel Thomas.

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    The Passing On

    Renowned African American embalmer, James Bryant, puts his faith in a new generation to continue the legacy of Black funeral homes in San Antonio, Texas. But his young intern, Clarence Pierre, is conflicted about his commitment due to the judgment he receives as a queer, Christian man. Directed by Nathan Clarke. Produced by Lana Garland & Tyler Trumbo.

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    Rap Squad

    An Arkansas community mobilizes around a divisive ballot initiative for a new high school, led by a group of high school writers and performers who seek healing for themselves and justice for their community through hip hop. Directed by Nathan Willis.

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    Jasper Mall

    A dying shopping mall outside of Birmingham, Alabama, its patrons, and its tenants embody the diversity and tenderness of Americana culture in a changing South. Directed by Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb.

Season 5

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    F11 and Be There

    F11 AND BE THERE is a commentary on American civil rights, race, social justice, and art, told through the many lenses of legendary photographer Burk Uzzle. With a career that spans 65+ years, Burk Uzzle has created some of the most iconic photographs in American history. He continues making renowned museum exhibitions today, particularly focusing on African Americans. Directed by Jethro Waters.

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    Unmarked

    Vast amounts of African-American grave sites and burial grounds for enslaved persons have been disappearing over the years. In Virginia alone, stories of thousands at rest could vanish from history altogether if these locations are not restored. Those with personal connections to these burial sites have recently begun to uncover and maintain and preserve these legacies across the state.

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    All Skinfolk Ain't Kinfolk

    Through news footage, campaign advertisements and archival audio and video, All Skinfolk Ain't Kinfolk is the unprecedented story of the 2017 New Orleans mayoral runoff. The winner of this election would take office as the first female mayor of New Orleans and the city’s fourth black mayor. Directed by Angela Tucker.

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    Sustained Outrage

    The story of the Charleston Gazette-Mail, a family-owned, Pulitzer Prize-winning local newspaper in West Virginia fighting for survival. Directed by Gabriela Cavanagh.

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    Outspoken

    LGBTQ West Virginians fight to live free from discrimination, calling us to reimagine the power and longevity of a small town queer community. Directed by Emily Harger.

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    First Lady of the Revolution

    Henrietta Boggs, a reluctant Southern belle, finds her way to Central America in the 1940s, in search of freedom and adventure. Instead, she is swept up in political upheaval, when her new husband is elected president of Costa Rica. First Lady of the Revolution portrays a courageous woman who escaped the confines of a sheltered existence to help nurture a young democracy. Directed by Andrea Kalin.

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    Seadrift

    In 1979, a fatal shooting ignites a maelstrom of hostilities against Vietnamese refugee fishermen along the Gulf Coast. Set during the early days of Vietnamese refugee arrival in the U.S., "Seadrift" examines this turbulent yet little-seen chapter of American history, and explores its consequences that continue to reverberate today. Directed by Tim Tsai

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    You Gave Me a Song

    At 84, old-time music pioneer Alice Gerrard still performs, teaches and inspires the next generation, while safeguarding groundbreaking moments of her past. This intimate portrait of ever-youthful Alice, and her remarkable, unpredictable journey creating and preserving traditional music, is a story about getting older, but never giving up. Directed by Kenny Dalsheimer.

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    Attaché

    The Clinton, Mississippi Attaché high school show choir is considered to be among the most successful in history. In a region where arts and music funding have been virtually demolished, Clinton public school's music programs manage to thrive, and the choir unites generations of performers who travel across the country and complete a heart-pounding routine. Directed by Melissa Overholt.

Season 4

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    Two Trains Runnin'

    Set during the height of the civil rights movement, a band of blues hounds traveled to the Deep South to find two forgotten blues singers. Finding them would not be easy. There were few clues to their whereabouts. It was not even known for certain if they were still alive.  And Mississippi, that summer, was a tense and violent place. Featuring music from Gary Clark Jr., Lucinda Williams and more!

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    A Texas Myth

    The Glover family invites an indigenous activist group to start a protest camp on their land in West Texas. Roughly 20 miles north of the US-Mexico Border, the Two Rivers camp sets out to fight the same company that built the pipeline at Standing Rock. As more oil and gas projects threaten the region, their struggle reveals much about the colonial legacy of Texas and the price of activism.

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    ¡Fiesta! Quinceañera

    Life for a Latinx immigrant family in the New South can be challenging and sometimes terrifying, but thankfully, there’s always a fiesta to take you through the night. Three Latina girls and a seasoned drag artist host their own quinceañera, a complex and colorful rite of passage, showcasing the creative spirit of Latinx communities and their struggles to retain their roots and traditions.

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    Gimme a Faith

    Thousands of Chinese students arrive in the United States each year, often confronting loneliness and culture-clash upon arrival. Arriving in North Carolina to study filmmaking, Hao Zhang is surprised to find a unique community of Chinese students, connected by a newly discovered evangelical Christianity that is often at stark odds with their communist roots in China.

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    Santuario

    After 25 years of living in the United States, Guatemalan grandmother Juana Ortega is threatened with deportation and soon takes sanctuary in a small North Carolina church. As time passes, and state lawmakers continue to ignore the family's pleas for a stay on her deportation, Juana's spirits slowly sink. And yet, Juana is patient that in God's house, God will answer her prayers.

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    Lumpkin, GA

    In a fading Georgia town, a community recalls its dark past and faces a grim present. An undocumented immigrant, caught in legal limbo and facing deportation, contemplates his future. In the midst of it all, a massive, private immigration prison generates millions in profits. Where these stories meet, the hidden epicenter of America’s immigration crackdown is revealed—a place called Lumpkin, GA.

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    The Well-Placed Weed

    Growing up in rural South Carolina, celebrated American garden designer Ryan Gainey developed a love of plants at an early age. After moving to Atlanta in the 1970s, Ryan began designing gardens in affluent neighborhoods and around the world. A contradictory character, offensive and tender, artificial yet truly authentic, Ryan was known for his love of beauty and the ability to create it.

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    Ingrid

    A successful fashion designer who gave up her big-city career, Ingrid Gipson discovered a reclusive life of solitude and unhindered creativity in Arkansas’ rural Ouachita Mountains. As if through poetry, she opens up her world again to those of us willing to listen.

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    Saint Cloud Hill

    Captain Chris Scott rallies a colony of tent residents to defend their provisional homes against the forces of gentrification. As development encroaches on the community, the tragedies and personal experiences of a displaced community resurface among those clinging to their last remnant of stability.

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