PBS series Reel South Slates 11 films, Announces Spring Premiere Dates
First look at Season 8 with new sizzle reel
Durham, North Carolina 3/9/23 The documentary series Reel South has acquired 11 new films to broadcast and stream as part of its eighth season, coming to PBS this spring. The series, executive produced by the PBS stations PBS North Carolina, South Carolina ETV, and Louisiana Public Broadcasting, will be broadcast on PBS, streamed on the PBS app, and then will have expanded SVOD distribution on the likes of the Amazon Prime PBS Documentaries Channel with PBSd. The series will roll out six weeks of new releases beginning April 10, 2023.
“This season of Reel South forefronts the complexities and unyielding vitality of love –– love for your home, your family, your God, your people, and critically, your self,” said series producer Nick Price. Season 8 of the IDA-Award-nominated curated anthology series refines the meaning of individualism across 11 films, within 6 episodes, getting their public television debut this spring.
The season premiere “Stay Prayed Up,” charts the legacy and gospel of 83-year-old Lena Mae ‘Mother’ Perry. The charismatic performer has spent the last 50 years as the frontwoman of the legendary North Carolina gospel group, The Branchettes, which has packed churches and lifted weary hearts throughout the South.
“Just when we desperately need this type of programming, along comes ‘Stay Prayed Up,’ a joyful look at a truly remarkable artist, Mother Perry, captured authentically by two talented, local filmmakers,” said PBS North Carolina’s director of National Productions, Rachel Raney. “We are thrilled to bring this film to our audience, who are sure to be inspired by Lena Mae Perry’s faith, and moved by the infectious music of The Branchettes.”
Other feature films in the series include Carlo Nasisse, Andrew Kornylak, and Luisa Santos’ environmental odyssey of the American South, “Stay Here Awhile,” told through the stories of four disparate individuals finding solace in the landscape of the region. Additionally, Ray Whitehouse’s stirring and timely election biopic of San Antonio’s trans-politico-turned-candidate Frankie Gonzalez-Wolfe. Premiering as the season finale on May 16, “A Run for More,” chronicles Wolfe’s local campaign for city council while exploring the detritus of Texas’ rising anti-transgender legislation.
In a first for the strand, Reel South will broadcast three new short film compilation episodes. Eight short films were curated to showcase the exemplary storytelling taking place in the South and even among Southerners abroad.
On April 24, the episode titled “Justice is a Beginning” will feature two stories from the South’s penitentiary systems: In Louisiana, a devastating investigation into youth suicide and systemic neglect (“8 Days at Ware,” If/Then | Field of Vision), and in Alabama, an incarcerated man’s rehabilitation starts with his marriage (“Love Without Parole”).
“‘8 Days at Ware’ is documentary filmmaking at its finest, shedding light on injustices that impact the most vulnerable,” says Linda Midgett, Louisiana Public Broadcasting’s Executive Producer. “This is a story that is important not just to Louisiana, but to the entire country.”
For AAPI Heritage Month, the series will broadcast the compilation “South by South Korea” whereby two films bridge the American South and the Korean Peninsula, showcasing the historical and contemporary currents connecting these regions. From stories about one restaurant’s overnight fame and the perils of celebrity culture (“Ten by Ten”), and another chronicling the overlooked crises of motherhood and adoption, comes a clearer complexion of Korean-American life at home and abroad (“The Space Between You & Me”).
The final episode titled “A Culture Askance” curates four short films from West Texas to Appalachia. These shorts follow a diverse swath of the South’s artists and activists––two students, a quilter, a performer, and an environmentalist–– who seek to rectify and reclaim the region’s culture and history left askew from the values they hold to be true.
“Unearthed within three feature-length films and three short-film compilations is the journey and story of every person’s privilege, sacrifice, and ultimately, the love required to live and strive in the South, to call it home, and to create and believe in their place in it,” said Price. “Reel South exists to amplify these stories and these voices.”
Below is a full list of the titles airing as part of season 8 with their premiere dates online and broadcast. Info and graphics for each can be found here.
Stay Prayed Up (April 10)
Dir. by Derek Anderson and Matt Durning
Stay Here Awhile (April 17)
Dir. by Carlo Nacisse and Andrew Kornylak
8 Days at Ware (April 24)
Dir. by Meg Shutzer and Rachel Mueller
Love Without Parole (April 24)
Dir. by Greg Womble
Ten by Ten (May 1)
Dir. Jami Bennett
The Space Between You & Me (May 1)
Dir. by Lily Ahree Siegel
Quilted Education (May 8)
Dir. by Kayla Robinson
Jared Dawson is the Church of Lavonia Elberton (May 8)
Dir. by Adam Forrester
Disrupted Borders (May 8)
Dir. by Alejandra Aragón
Wiley’s Last Resort (May 8)
Dir. by Evan Mascagni and Shawn Lind
A Run for More (May 15)
Dir. by Ray Whitehouse
For Media Inquiries:
A Press Kit is available for PBS Stations on the Source and for Public Use on Dropbox.
All filmmakers are available for interview and engagement. Please email Nick Price for outreach.
ABOUT REEL SOUTH
REEL SOUTH is a cooperative documentary series between the South’s PBS-member stations: PBS North Carolina, South Carolina ETV, Alabama Public Television, Arkansas PBS, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Texas Tech Public Media, and Virginia's VPM. Support for Reel South is brought to audiences by the National Endowment for the Arts, Center for Asian American Media, and by SouthArts.