As Reel South heads into its seventh season, a growing number of Southern pubcasters have joined to produce the documentary series, bringing the total now to eight public broadcasting organizations.
Unique among documentary programs in the PBS system, Reel South, originally created by two PBS stations, is now produced jointly by a cooperative of eight PBS member stations. The new stations this season are the Tennessee Public Television Council, which represents all PBS member stations in Tennessee, and Texas PBS, representing all member stations in Texas. These public television consortiums join a powerhouse of PBS station producing partners which include PBS North Carolina, South Carolina ETV, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Alabama Public Television, Arkansas PBS, Texas Tech Public Media, and Richmond’s VPM.
“Texas PBS stations are excited to join with our colleagues in highlighting to our communities the unique stories of our region,” said Kierstan Schwab, executive director of Texas PBS. “This series has helped us develop more content from new and emerging filmmakers. We are looking forward to this partnership with other southern states and we plan to build on Reel South with more Texas voices.”
Over the past few seasons, the series focused on recruiting statewide networks from across the American South. This is the first year in which a collection of stations who already collaborate within their borders, now work together on a national series.
Vickie Lawson, Chairman of Tennessee Public Television Council, stated, “All the PBS stations across Tennessee work so well together as valuable partners throughout the state. We are thrilled for the opportunity and help that Reel South will bring, as we work together for content and stories that work so well within our Southern state.”
In their first joint effort, the Reel South station partners are presenting and promoting a national preview screening of the series’ Season 7 premiere film, Little Satchmo. The film is an intimate exploration of iconic jazzman Louis Armstrong’s life and legacy through his relationship with the daughter that the public never knew existed –– and seeks to correct a historical narrative relying on caricature for too long. This virtual event, to be held on ITVS’ OVEE platform, will take place on March 30, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time.
Reel South’s station partners contribute funding and in-kind resources to the series. They also collaborate on programming and promotion of the series to their local and statewide audiences. For their part, Reel South’s producers work with stations to bolster their independent filmmaking communities, as well as pair them with local film festivals to offer a Reel South Short Award. Reel South’s recent partnership with CAAM and Firelight on the short film series HINDSIGHT leveraged this model pairing independent filmmakers with their local station to create impactful, national content.
“We are humbled by the support from Texas PBS stations and the Tennessee Public Television Council,” said Rachel Raney, co-executive producer of Reel South. “On behalf of all of my Reel South colleagues, we feel even more inspired to continue expanding the impact of this brand. What started as a Southern content initiative has grown into a powerful talent pipeline and a model of public media collaboration. We believe these kinds of partnerships are critical to any future success or sustainability in public media.”
Season 7 of Reel South feeds April 11, 2022, from PBS Plus and will continue releasing new episodes weekly through May 16, 2022. The series also airs on WORLD Channel in May.
About Reel South
Reel South reveals the South’s proud yet complicated heritage, as told by a diversity of voices and perspectives, through the curation and distribution of feature-length and short documentaries.
Nick Price, Reel South