Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 217: Sun Aug 7

Harlan County USA (Kopple, 1976): Rio Cinema, 11am

Rio introduction:
Barbara Kopple’s Oscar-winning film is considered one of the best American documentaries ever made. Shot on very little budget with a crew that lived with Kentucky miners for a year, it is a direct and unflinching record of the Duke Power strike at Brookside Mine. Violence and injustice pervade the county from the greedy corporation and murderous union boss to the corrupt local law and despicable gun thugs… all meted out to the sound of legendary country and bluegrass protest music.

Host Ranjit S. Ruprai and film critic Phuong Le will be exploring the connections between Harlan County U.S.A. & Kaala Patthar, both films in this double bill, before the screening.

Chicago Reader review:
Barbara Kopple’s 1977 documentary on a Kentucky coal miners’ strike is muddled on the issues, but it earned its Oscar as a dramatic, involving story, full of tough and appealing characters. Kopple’s fiercely partisan stance upsets the classic balance of cinema verite documentary, but who could fail to take sides in this timeless labor-management confrontation and still claim to have a heart?

Here (and above) is the trailer.

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