Celebrates the legacy of the country music dynasty the Carter Family by focusing on the Carter Family Fold in Maces Spring, Va., an old-time music hall founded in 1975 by Janette, Joe, and Gladys, the children of A.P. and Sara Carter. The film features Saturday night performances at the Fold by such artists as the Home Folks, Red Clay Ramblers, and Hot Mud Family. The film also includes a history of the Carter Family.
In 1978 Richard Nixon chose Letcher County, Ky., for his first public appearance since resigning the presidency. Priceless footage of his visit introduces this incisive and sometimes hilarious look at the engines that drive American politics. The film explores the machinations of party politics in this rural and staunchly Republican county.
Interviewed at home and on the job, women coal miners tell of the conditions that led them to seek employment in this traditionally male-dominated industry and the problems they encountered once hired. And, the story of a typical young man from Appalachia in the summer after his senior year in high school. He must face the difficult decision faced by many Appalachian youth – whether to stay in the mountains or leave in search of a “better life.”
Chester Cornett made chairs for Presidents and his work is displayed in museums across the country. In this film, Chester fells a tree on the site of his family’s homeplace on the top of Pine Mountain in southeastern Kentucky and transports it back to his small apartment and workshop in inner-city Cincinnati. He uses simple hand tools to chop, whittle, and carve the wood into an exquisite, eight-legged, “two-in-one” rocker.
On February 26, 1972, a coal-waste dam owned by the Pittston Company collapsed at the head of a crowded hollow in southern West Virginia. The disaster left 125 dead and 4,000 homeless. Interviews with survivors, representatives of union and citizen’s groups, and officials of the Pittston Company are juxtaposed with actual footage of the flood. Filmed ten years after the flood, Buffalo Creek Revisited looks at the second disaster, in which the survivors’ efforts to rebuild the communities are thwarted by government insensitivity and a century-old pattern of corporate control of the region’s land and resources.
The film traces the evolution of the “hillbilly” image through Hollywood films, network news and entertainment shows, dramatic renderings of popular literature, and interviews with contemporary Appalachians to demonstrate how stereotypes are created, reinforced, and often used to rationalize exploitation.
This documentary dispels this myth of a “pure Anglo-Saxon” Appalachia as it explores the ethnic diversity of the region, the economic forces causing people to migrate into and out of the area, and the personal choices individuals make to stay, to leave, and to come back.
Nimrod Workman was born in 1895 and spent his life raising a family of eleven by working in the West Virginia coal mines. The film is an extended visit at his home as he and his family prepare meals, build an addition to the house, dig for yellow root, swap jokes with the neighbors, and enjoy each other’s company. Next, an early Appalshop film juxtaposes coal miner Frank Jackson’s personal recollections of union organizing and mining work with scenes of him in and around the mines. Also, a film of a speech given by W.A. Boyle, president of UMWA, at a miners’ rally in Big Stone Gap, Va., in the summer of 1970 with scenes at a mine and interviews with working and disabled miners.
Harriette Simpson Arnow introduces readers of “The Dollmaker” to its author a feisty, funny, outspoken, talented and hardworking woman. In interviews filmed not long before her death, Mrs. Arnow describes the basic biographical details of her life and reveals the difficulties of being a writer, a wife and a mother three roles that she balanced for much of her career. In Ourselves and That Promise three contemporary Kentuckians artists, James Still, Robert Penn Warren, and Billy Davis, discuss their work and its relationship to the environment in which they live.
Dulcimers are one of the world’s oldest musical instruments and have been heard in the southern mountains since the time of the earliest white settlers. In Sourwood Mountain Dulcimers I.D. Stamper, a master dulcimer builder and player from Letcher County in eastern Kentucky, and John McCutcheon, a young musician, play together, swap tunes, discuss musical traditions and demonstrate the difference between hammered and mountain style dulcimer. John Jacob Niles is a portrait of the adding machine repairman who came to eastern Kentucky in 1909, “heard the songs [his] father sang,” and became a muchnoted “arranger, expander, collector, recorder, and performer” of traditional Appalachian ballads.
Beyond Measure explores the interplay between culture and economy while looking at the economic history of the Appalachian region from the time when Native Americans first encountered white settlers moving into the mountains. Focusing primarily on current events, Beyond Measure puts the challenges of large-scale job loss in historical context and documents efforts of citizens to rebuild their communities.