Stranger with a Camera production images

Stranger With A Camera

Stranger with a Camera is an exceptionally moving film about a people and place often misunderstood by the outside world.

- 2000 Sundance Film Festival

Calvin Trillin Mason Eldridge

In 1967 Canadian filmmaker Hugh O'Connor visited the mountains of Central Appalachia to document poverty. A local landlord, who resented the presence of filmmakers on his property, shot and killed O'Connor, in part because of his anger over the media images of Appalachia that had become icons in the nation's War on Poverty.

Filmmaker Elizabeth Barret, a native of Appalachia, uses O'Connor's death as a lens to explore the complex relationship between those who make films to promote social change and the people whose lives are represented in such media productions. Through first-person accounts of the killing and the perspective of three decades of reflection, Stranger with a Camera leads viewers on a quest for understanding - a quest that ultimately leads Barret to examine her own role as both a maker of media and a member of the Appalachian community she portrays.

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Production Collage

One of the best documentaries ever made...way beyond everything that has ever been done on the issue of where images come from and how images are perceived from different perspectives.

- David Whisnant, Professor of English and American Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Stranger with a Camera


An Appalshop Film
Color, 58 minutes, 2000
Producer/Director:
Elizabeth Barret
Co-Producer: Judi Jennings
Executive Producer: Dee Davis
Editor: Lucy Massie Phenix
Associate Editor: Marta Wohl
Camera: Peter Pearce, Martin Duckworth
Sound: Andy Garrison, Glen Hodgins, Jamie Stoney, Steuart Pearce
Writer: Fenton Johnson
Score: Dirk Powell

Pat Gish talks about the times. Pat and Tom Gish

Elizabeth Barret's thoughts. On January 27, Bob Edwards of NPR's Morning Edition interviewed producer/director Elizabeth Barret.

Hugh's daughter speaks. Ann O'Connor McGoey


Stranger with a Camera is a co-production of Appalshop and KET, the Kentucky Network, produced in association with the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Southern Humanities Media Fund, the Soros Documentary Fund, a Rockefeller Foundation Film/Video Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kentucky Arts Council, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Art, the Appalshop Production & Education Fund, American Documentary, Inc., the Kentucky Humanities Council, the Ford Foundation, the Florence and John Schumann Foundation, the Palmer Foundation, Women in Film, Edie & Barry Bingham, Jr., and Elizabeth Ann Puleston.