Meet the Southern Exposure 2021 Fellows!

Alabama Rivers Alliance is proud to welcome four incredibly talented documentary filmmakers to the 2021 Southern Exposure Film Fellowship kicking off on June 14. After a summer of remote filmmaking in 2020, we are thrilled to be able to bring the fellows BACK to Alabama for the full immersive experience!

During the six-week summer program, the fellows will create short documentaries that tell impactful stories about Alabama’s environment and the important work required to protect its abundance of natural wonders and scenic beauty.

ARA’s partner groups work together throughout the year to develop a list of film topics from which the fellows work to create short documentaries, bringing attention to urgent environmental issues around the state, as well as highlighting the people, places and things that make Alabama special.

Now in its ninth season, the Southern Exposure film fellowship has created more than 30 films exploring important topics throughout the state. These poignant stories depict the triumphs of Alabamians, and the challenges we face. The films screen across the state with community groups, legislators and decision-makers, key stakeholders and people new to the movement and these issues. They also appear at film festivals all over the country (and beyond!), introducing a wider audience to Alabama, fulfilling the mission to spread awareness, appreciation, and inspire action on behalf of Alabama’s environment.

We are excited to welcome the 2021 Southern Exposure fellows:



Céline François is a freelance documentary filmmaker with expertise in every stage of the production process from development to editing. Her passion for storytelling through film blossomed at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts, where she graduated with a BFA in Documentary. She thrives in the fast-paced production environment and hopes to spend the rest of her career uplifting key voices, with a soft spot for authentic, human stories that showcase our collective humanity and relationship to the world we live in. When she’s not working as part of the development team at Xpedition Media in Los Angeles, she’s constantly pursuing independent documentary projects. Her latest documentary short about a 94-year-old Glacier National Park ranger is currently navigating the festival circuit and has won numerous awards, including a spot on the shortlist for the GSA BAFTA Student Awards.



Sarah is a filmmaker, currently based in Chicago. She is interested in delving into the complex relationships that exist between humans and their environment, and employing honest storytelling to explore the ethos of people and places. Her 2019 documentary short, BELOW THE FLOOD GATE, premiered at the New Orleans Film Festival and has screened at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival, among others, and she is currently producing a narrative feature. Sarah holds a BA in Film and Television Production from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and an MA in Documentary Film from University of the Arts London. In her free time, she likes to shoot film and recreate outdoors.



Claire Haughey is a Brooklyn-based filmmaker / photographer originally from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado pursuing stories that address the intersection of environmental justice, income equality, and community. As a graduate student in Media Studies and Documentary Film at The New School, her thesis film (HIDDEN COSTS) highlighted the multigenerational cycles of community sacrifice for corporate profit in Brooklyn’s fossil fuel infrastructure. It was showcased at DOC NYC in 2020. She  co-directed the Tribeca Film Institute IF/Then short documentary, RENGA FOR THE WEST, and interned at America ReFramed. She is dedicated to creating work that is respectful and inclusive of the individuals and communities who share their stories.


Paulina Sobczak is a filmmaker, graphic designer, and photographer. Paulina is originally from Poland, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a specialization in Graphic Design and Multimedia. She is currently pursuing M.A. degrees in both Documentary Film and Sociology at the University of Arkansas. Paulina has been working on several film productions as a crew member and creating her own documentary and interactive films, social video campaigns, and promotional videos. Recently, she joined the organization Women in Film & Television, where she serves as a Director of Communication. Through film, Paulina combines two passions for art and social service.


Special thank you to the Neighborhood Preservation Coalition for hosting the  visiting filmmakers atop the beautiful Pine Mountain!