Appalshop News

Our new film "Portraits and Dreams" selected for POV Docs Season 33

5 months ago

We’re very proud that our new Appalshop film was honored at the American Film Institute Documentary Festival this summer — and thrilled that it was selected to be part of POV Docs Season 33 this fall.

“Portraits and Dreams” is a collaboration between our own filmmaker Elizabeth Barret and photographer Wendy Ewald, who taught elementary schoolers in Eastern Kentucky to photograph their own lives.

When Ewald reunited with her students 35 years later, now grown and with children of their own, Barret was there to capture their lasting connection and their reflections on the power of photography in our region.

The result: "Portraits and Dreams," which has already been honored by the American Film Institute when it was selected as a Special Presentation at the prestigious AFI Docs Festival in June.

"Portraits and Dreams" premiered as part of POV Docs Season 33 on Labor Day, the longest-running showcase for independent acclaimed point-of-view documentary films.

It's an enormous honor. Unique for being a woman-led team, "Portraits and Dreams" is the second of Barret's films to be selected by POV Docs. And it's the second that explores the way Appalachia is portrayed, this time not by "strangers"  — as in her internationally renowned 2000 release "Stranger with a Camera" — but by Appalachians themselves.


Portraits & Dreams Trailer from Appalshop, Inc. on Vimeo.


Ewald's collaboration with her students in the 1970s was a rare opportunity for kids in our region to uplift their own stories not as subjects, but as artists with agency and creative control. 

To discuss what it means for Appalachians to portray themselves, two of those students joined Ewald and Barret on a panel prior to the PBS broadcast, a conversation moderated by photographer Jeff Whetstone and streamed over Facebook LIVE.

To discuss how the film and the project at its heart fit into the canon of Appalachian photography, the same group convened in another panel moderated by Appalachian photographer Roger May and hosted by MACK Books, the publisher of the companion book to "Portraits and Dreams."

Both conversations are saved as videos on our Facebook page, where you can watch them in their entirety. 

We’re so proud of the work that both women have done at Appalshop, and we are incredibly excited to see the latest Appalshop film being honored by POV Docs.

 “What emerges is the unbreakable, timeless bond between teacher and student and the transformative power of art,” says critic Ken Jacobsen, who has called the film “beautiful and deeply moving.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Stream "Portraits and Dreams" on POV through our shop.

More information about the film is available at @appalshop on FacebookInstagram and Twitter;@POVDocs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and at; or through the hashtag #PortraitsAndDreamsPBS across social media.

Back Home