San Francisco, California
London, United Kingdom
USA | 1976 | Documentary | 103 minutes
Director: Barbara Kopple
Producer: Barbara Kopple
Cinematographers: Kevin Keating, Hart Perry
Editors: Nancy Baker, Mirra Bank, Lora Hays, Mary Lampson
Composer: Hazel Dickens, Merle Travis
Barbara Kopple was a 26-year-old New Yorker when she decided to go to a poverty-stricken part of Appalachian Kentucky. There, coal miners were striking against and fighting violent resistance from the management of the Duke Power Company. Harlan County USA is a gripping, unflinching, and deeply intimate film that combines riveting cinéma vérité, startling interviews, newsreel footage, and a mesmerizing country and bluegrass soundtrack that chronicles an eternal American story – the ongoing struggle between the profit demands of capitalism and the needs of the working class. This masterpiece of non-fiction film won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, and is a true American classic.
Filmmaker bio: Barbara Kopple is a two-time Academy Award winner (for Harlan County USA and American Dream). Running from Crazy, her documentary portrait of Mariel Hemingway, just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Her ever-timely 2011 film, Gun Fight, looked at the issues of gun control and gun rights; other films include Wild Man Blues, a close-up look at Woody Allen as he travels through Europe on a clarinet concert tour; Shut Up and Sing, about the Dixie Chicks, who courted controversy by openly criticizing President George W. Bush; and Woodstock: Now and Then, made on the 40th anniversary of the legendary music festival.