Coal Country

On 28 March, 1977, the film, ‘Harlan County, USA’ was awarded the ‘Best Documentary’ Oscar at the 49th Annual Academy Awards. The film, which chronicles a protracted struggle of 180 miners and their wives against the Duke Power Company-owned Eastover Coal Company’s Brookside Mine and Prep Plant in Harlan County, southeast Kentucky in 1973, was directed and produced by Barbara Kopple. Kopple and her crew spent years with the families depicted in the film, documenting the extreme conditions they find themselves in while striking for safer working conditions, fair labor practices, and better wages. The films includes documenting a picket staged in front of the stock exchange in New York, interviews with people affected by black lung disease, and even witnesses the pre-dawn armed assault on miners in which one is left dead. In 1990, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

A clip appears below….