Essential Documentaries About
CREEK – AN ACT OF MAN. (1975) Mimi Pickering - This is one of the first films by
Appalshop, the official media arts center for Appalachia. They made a
sequel 10 years latter, Buffalo Creek Revisited. Both films
chronicle the great disaster that happened on Buffalo Creek after a
coal-waste dam broke, killing 125 people.
TOWN. (1983) Jim Rutenbeck came to the state and documented one of
the most famous company towns left in Appalachia – the town of Widen
in Clay County. Rutenbeck moved to Boston and became a world-class
documentary filmmaker, editing many of the films for PBS’ American
Experience films. He returned to War, McDowell County, to finish his
film, Raise the Dead, about a contemporary circuit rider
APPALACHIA. (2002) Sasha Waters made this feature length documentary
about the devastating effects of mountaintop removal on the people of
JOLO SERPENT HANDLERS. (1978) Karen Kramer began her film career by
making a film about the church members in Jolo, Mc Dowell County, who
drink poison, handle poisonous snakes, and do other things to prove
their faith in God.
AND WACKY WORLD OF HASIL ADKINS. (1993) Appalshop made this film
about one of the state’s most famous musicians. One-man-band Hasil
Adkins invented "The Hunch," and such continental hits as the
"Chicken Walk" and "I'm Gonna Cut Your Head Off And Hang
It On the Wall." Hasil gives a sample of his art as he dances,
sings, and stomps on the top of his truck (hope it's his) and entertains
in a tavern. Hasil begins where country roads end!
FACTS...IN A COUNTRY SONG. (1979) Burt/Chadwick - A rare look at the
life of a WW music family. The Lilly Brothers found fame in Boston and
Japan, returning to WV after a son's death. The true facts of an
Appalachian family are revealed in their songs, including "Hide You
in the Blood of Jesus," "Sailor Boy," "Come Early
Morning," "Sitting on Top of the World," "We Shall
Meet Again," "Gathering Shells From the Seashore" and
"What Will I Leave Behind."
MILES TO FETCH WATER. (1989 ) Asymmetry Prod. - The southern
coalfields of WV are known for labor struggles. They also have some of
the worst water problems in the nation. Abandoned by the coal companies
that built them, these small communities face problems different from
urban centers. Most lack the resources to keep up their water systems.
SILENCE: THE STORY OF THE SISTERS AT DESALES HEIGHTS. (1993 VHS)
Tommie Dell Smith - Breaking Silence takes us behind the walls of
a 150-year-old cloistered monastery in WV as the twelve surviving
Sisters of the Visitation prepare to face the outside world for the
first time in their adult lives. Some of these women came to live here
when they were young children, and most of them have not left the
building for fifty, sixty and, in the case of Sister Innocentia, over
ninety years. Until the 1960's they were forbidden to speak or even to
be seen by people from the outside world. Their only contact was
through the children they taught and the occasional visits from the
doctor, the dentist, or the undertaker. Breaking Silence follows
the Sisters through their final year at the convent as they struggle to
deal with the grief, the fear, the anger, and the uncertainty of their
future, even as the halls of tradition crumble down around them. At the
same time they find themselves reviewing the reasons of their decline
and questioning both the validity of their years of service and the
relevance of their institution in the modern world. It is a rare,
intimate, and emotionally powerful insight into a way of life that may
soon be gone forever.
NO MAN'S LAND. (1981) Mary Knoll - The recent super-merger of Conoco
and Dupont sets the importance of this incisive film investigation into
Appalachia. It was filmed in Mingo County, WV, and Martin County, KY.
Interviews with the natives, organizers, and poets are intercut with the
scenes of destruction. Floods, black lung, and uncontrolled strip-mining
disasters, which are the result of ownership by huge multinational
corporations, are the primary forces in Appalachia. The postscript lists
results of the Appalachian Regional Commission land ownership study just published.
10. LOCKED OUT IN AMERICA: VOICES FROM RAVENSWOOD. (1992) Barbara Kopple - During the 1980s, over 300,000 workers lost their jobs to permanent replacements in some of this country's biggest labor disputes. Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple, known for her films American Dream and Harlan County USA, takes us to Ravenswood, WV, a town devastated by a bitter lockout and the hiring of replacement workers. Ravenswood had been torn apart since June 1991, when Ravenswood Aluminum Corporation (RAC) locked out 1700 steelworkers. The workers could see it coming - RAC put up barbed wire, boarded windows, and brought in fifteen tractor-trailers filled with replacement workers - but they were unprepared for the hard months that followed. Now they and their families survive on dwindling strike benefits and donations, but continue to fight to get their jobs back. Kopple's profiles of these individuals take us to the heart of the controversy over labor's right to strike, and industry's use of permanent replacements - a battle about to come to a head in the U.S. Congress.
Additional AppLit Resources:
Films and From the Brothers Grimm
release from September 9, 2002, entitled “World premier screenings at
Flooded Out Film Festival
Winning Festival Films, background information on the first festival, local history, links to sponsors, links to information on film such as The Griffin and the Minor Canon, The Night of the Hunter, Invasion of the Space Preachers, etc.
The West Virginia Filmmakers Guild was created in 1985 to provide networking and communication between West Virginia film and video makers and those interested in these crafts in West Virginia. Central to its mission is educating the public and promoting West Virginia filmmakers and their films to the public.