Reel South's Seadrift image, What Defines You?
Press Release

Reel South Kicks Off Series' Fifth Season

Mar 4, 2020 by Nicholas Price

This April, Reel South is poised to showcase the diversity and poignant storytelling of the American South again with the forthcoming Season 5 television series for PBS audiences nationwide. With 10 new films for a 2020 decade, the series embarks on an identity quest for the region and its stories positing the question: What Defines You?

Beginning with the feature film from North Carolina-native Jethro Waters, "F11 and Be There" deftly portrays the life and philosophy of photojournalist and photographer Burk Uzzle whose seminal works document the 20th century Americana. In the most comprehensive and pointed season to date, the season lineup brings Virginia and West Virginia stories back into the fold, with stories speaking to knowing your past and deliberating your future.

It is the future at stake or under inspection in each film. Whether carving out political new-beginnings, fighting against environmental tyranny, or competing for the musical legacy of show choirs and women-fronted bands alike, Reel South reveals the significance of Southern storytelling and the impending impact documentary filmmaking is sure to have.

PBS offers the new season over 8 weeks beginning April 6, 2020. For more offers and exclusive clips, follow along @reelsouthdocs.

Season 5 is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Center for Asian American Media, and by SouthArts.

Season 5 Lineup

F11 and Be There

Over the last seven decades, Burk Uzzle has produced some of the most iconic photographs in American history. In the early 1960s, Burk became very active in the Civil Rights movement, photographing some of the most recognizable photographs of the era — a body of work that continues today.


Throughout the South, there are many historic African-American and unmarked slave burials that are derelict and almost lost to time. However, recently, there has been a rise in active restoration and preservation efforts by those who have a personal history or appreciation for these historic sites.

All Skinfolk Ain't Kinfolk

A contentious mayoral race in New Orleans comes down to two very different black women, demonstrating that All Skinfolk Ain’t Kinfolk.

Sustained Outrage

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


LGBTQ West Virginians fight to live free from discrimination, calling us to reimagine the power of a small-town queer community.

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.


A fatal shooting in a small Texas fishing village ignites a maelstrom of hostilities against Vietnamese refugees along the Gulf Coast.

You Gave Me a Song

At 84, old-time music pioneer Alice Gerrard performs, teaches, and inspires the next generation while safeguarding groundbreaking moments of her past.


This is a feel-good, inspiring film focusing on what teenagers living in one of the poorest states in America are capable of with incredibly dedicated teachers guiding them towards their goals. It is an inside look at the most successful SHOW CHOIR in history which happens to be from a small southern town.

Mossville: When Great Trees Fall

A centuries-old Black community in Louisiana is contaminated and uprooted by petrochemical plants. As the community comes to terms with the loss of their ancestral home, one man standing in the way of a plant’s expansion refuses to give up.


Southern Storytelling