King Coal comprises a collection of poetic vignettes that depict daily life in Appalachia, primarily exploring how coal became deeply intertwined with the region’s communities even after its economic dominance waned. A young girl learning the region’s history serves as a narrative pathway for this documentary, while poetic narration and archival footage provide historical context for the complex legacy of coal in the area.
Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon, a coal miner’s daughter, uses elements of magical realism to delve into the region’s dreams and myths while deciphering the challenges and beauty that exist as her community stands on the precipice of significant change. Rather than attempting to predict the area’s uncertain future, Sheldon aims to offer closure and pay homage to the rituals, aspirations, and culture of the past and present individuals who call Appalachia home.
Introduction by Christopher Tyree (Virginia Center for Investigative Journalism).
This film is supported by the McRoy family in Memory of James Byron McRoy.
Closed Captions are available for this screening and assistive devices are available upon request with advance notice. Visit VAFF Accessibility for more information.