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Harlan County U.S.A.

334 Considered one of the finest documentaries ever made, Barbara Kopple’s "Harlan County U.S.A." is a brilliant exposé about the embattled history of coal miners in American as seen through the very personal prism of striking coal miners in Harlan County, Kentucky in 1972. With elegant use of archival footage, Appalachian coal mining songs, and intimate footage from the picket lines and union meeting rooms Kopple gives voice to the impoverished but steadfast miners and their wives who stood up for their family’s rights against the greedy coal mine owners and violent scabs. Indeed, the film takes on an incidental feminist tone as union rabble-rouser Lois Scott galvanizes the women around her to picket against the gun toting "company thugs" that threaten their lives on a daily basis. The film is even more poignant today, considering how much exponentially worse conditions have gotten for today’s coal miners. This essential DVD comes with fascinating commentary by Barbara Kopple and editor Nancy Baker, and includes a spunky panel discussion from the 2005 Sundance Film Festival with Kopple and film critic Roger Ebert.

 

July 5, 2006 in Documentary | Permalink