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New Appalachia documentary being shown in Charleston and Huntington

November 10, 2018

HUNTINGTON — You can get a fresh look and take at Appalachia in the new documentary “hillbilly” that is being screened in Huntington and Charleston.

In “hillbilly,” directors Sally Rubin and Ashley York show the evolution of the uneducated, promiscuous “hillbilly” stereotype in media and culture, linking it with corporate exploitation of Appalachia’s natural resources.

Marshall University School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the SOJMC Diversity Committee, with sponsorship from Marshall University Libraries and Marshall University’s Film Studies program, Department of English and First Year Seminar, will present a free screening of the film from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in Room 154 of Smith Hall on Marshall’s Huntington campus. The film also will be shown at Underground Cinema, in the basement of Taylor Books Annex, 230 Capitol St. in Charleston, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, and Nov. 16-17, 23-24 and 30.

Filmed in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, “hillbilly” examines the experience of rural voters and seeks to expand understanding of the region by featuring diverse communities in Appalachia, including Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute, where young adults find community and refuge, and the Affrilachian Poets, a grassroots group of poets of color living in the Appalachian region.

“Hillbilly” seeks to challenge viewers’ perception of Appalachia, opening up dialogue between urban and rural America, and offering folks within the region a cinematic portrayal of which they can be proud.

“Appalachia is no stranger to the

complexity of media representation. Since our country’s inception, there has been a palpable divide between Urban and Rural America. Within this great divide, certain regions are viewed as “other,” and blamed for America’s social ills,” said the directors in a news release.

“Since the presidential election, the cultural divide in America has expanded. Stereotyping and slurs are rampant, finger-pointing and name-calling abound. ‘Hillbilly’ goes on a personal and political journey into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, exploring the role of media representation in the creation of the iconic American ‘hillbilly,’ and examining the social, cultural and political underpinnings of this infamous stereotype,” said the directors in the news release.

After the film, there will be a discussion with co-producer Jon Matthews and production assistant Tijah Bumgarner, who is also an adjunct professor of journalism and mass communications at Marshall.

“This film does a wonderful job of exploring how the negative connotation of ‘hillbilly’ was built and the ways in which people in the region are tearing it down/′ said Bumgarner. “Being a media-maker and teacher here in Appalachia, I feel that this film is an inspiration and necessity in showing the power of naming and the importance of amplifying the multiple voices that make up the region, opposed to the simplistic, often stereotypical stories we hear.”

Seating is limited. Tickets are $9 or $5 for students and are available online at http://www.wviff.org/hillbilly/

There will be a Q&A with directors Ashley York and Sally Rubin over Skype and co-producer Jon Matthews in attendance will follow the screening.

RSVP to the Marshall free screening at https://goo.gl/hfFqRg.

“This film does a wonderful job of exploring how the negative connotation of ‘hillbilly’ was built and the ways in which people in the region are tearing it down.”

Tijah Bumgarner production assistant on the film “hillbilly”

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