Filmmaker Talk: Southern Storytellers with Craig Renaud

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PBS Books, in collaboration with Arkansas PBS and PBS, is pleased to host this conversation with award-winning filmmaker Craig Renaud with inspirational comments by Arkansas PBS Executive Director and CEO Courtney Pledger to discuss SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS, which celebrates Southern identity through the eyes of contemporary creators of literature, music, TV and film.

This documentary series features: authors Angie Thomas, Michael Twitty, Jesmyn Ward and David Joy, poets Jericho Brown and Natasha Trethewey, musicians Lyle Lovett, Amanda Shires, Jason Isbell, Adia Victoria, Thao Nguyen and Justin Moore, actress-turned-songwriter Mary Steenburgen, screenwriter/songwriter Billy Bob Thornton and screenwriters Qui Nguyen and Michael Waldron. Gain insights into the series before you tune in on Tuesday, July 18, 2023, Tuesday, July 25, 2023, and Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023 at 9/8pm CT.  Check your local listing.

Explore the Southern Storytellers Booklist


SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS, a new three-episode series from PBS, Arkansas PBS and award-winning filmmaker Craig Renaud, follows some of the region’s most compelling and influential contemporary creators to the places they call home – the communities that fertilize the stories they tell in books, songs, poems, plays and on screens large and small. The documentary series premieres July 18 on PBS stations nationwide. 

SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS traverses the south, from the mountains of Appalachia to the Gulf of Mexico, revealing a vivid patchwork of diverse American stories that celebrate the resilience and joy of Southern people – and the magnitude of gifts from the region’s writers. Our journey across the South builds on themes of American identity, community and culture from the perspectives of creators born and bred in communities across the American South. 

In addition to the three-part broadcast series, SOUTHERN STORYTELLERS includes a six-part (10-minute episodes) series on PBS Digital Studios – SOUTHERN SOUNDS – that explores the powerful role of place in the lyrics of Southern songwriters. 


Craig Renaud is the series creator, producer, director, executive producer of Southern Storytellers. He is known for character-driven, cinema verité filmmaking. His work has aired on PBS, HBO, NBC, The Discovery Channel, The New York Times, ESPN and VICE. Renaud has won a Peabody Award, two Columbia DuPont Awards, two Overseas Press Club Awards, an IDA Award, a Webby, an Edward R Murrow Award, an Emmy Award, a DGA nomination, and multiple Emmy nominations.


Courtney Pledger is the series co-creator and executive producer of Southern Storytellers. She currently serves as CEO of statewide public broadcaster Arkansas PBS. Prior to entering public media, Pledger worked as a producer and senior film and television executive in Los Angeles and London where she shepherded or produced multiple award-winning projects. She served as executive director of Oscar-qualifying Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and is a recipient of the Women in Film Lillian Gish Producing Award.

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