Public invited to Appalachian Studies Film Series

BLACKSBURG, Va., Sept. 6, 2004 – The Appalachian Studies Program at Virginia Tech is hosting a series of notable artistic and documentary films. The films deal with themes or issues covered in Appalachian Studies courses and are organized historically, touching upon issues common to all Appalachians.

Virginia Tech faculty in the Appalachian Studies Program will introduce each film and respond to comments or questions after each film. Films will be shown Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. in Torgerson Hall, Room 3100 located on the Virginia Tech campus. The film series is free and open to the public.

The second film of the series, The Patriot starring Mel Gibson, focuses on the Revolutionary War. Future films will explore the anti-bellum period, the folk life and local color movement, the West Virginia mine wars, the war on poverty, and mountain top mining. Each film offers critical insights into the composition of Appalachian identities and cultures.

The Appalachian Studies Program provides teaching, research, and service on issues pertaining to Appalachia. The program was developed in 1979 by the Center for Programs in the Humanities in cooperation with faculty from the social sciences, humanities, and technological fields. Faculty from the program have undertaken research and consultation for the National Park Service, received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation, and have participated in numerous community outreach programs.

Film schedule:

Sept. 8: The Patriot (2000, staring Mel Gibson, directed by Roland Emmerich. 165 minutes, Rated R) Benjamin Martin is drawn into the American revolutionary war against his will when a brutal British commander kills his son.

Sept. 15: Journey of August King (1995, staring Jason Patric, directed by John Duigan. 91 minutes, PG-13) A multi-dimensional drama about a North Carolina farmer in 1815.

Sept. 22: Songcatcher (2000, staring Janet McTeer, directed by Maggie Greenwald. 109 minutes, PG-13) After being denied a promotion at the university where she teaches, Lily Penleric, a brilliant musicologist, impulsively visits her sister, who runs a struggling rural school in Appalachia

Sept. 29: Strangers and Kin (1984, documentary directed by Herb E. Smith. 58 minutes) Using funny, often poignant examples, Strangers and Kin shows the development and effect of stereotypes as technological change collides with tradition in the Southern mountains

Oct. 6: Matewan (1987, staring Chris Cooper and James Earl Jones, directed by John Sayles.132 minutes, PG-13). A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company.

Oct. 13: Stranger with a Camera (2000, documentary directed by Elizabeth Barret.) During the 1960s, filmmakers from around the world came to Appalachia to document the dire conditions of the region's poorest residents.

Oct. 20: October Sky (1999, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, directed by Joe Johnston. 108 minutes, PG) The true story of Virginia Tech alumna Homer Hickam, a coal miner's son who was inspired by the first Sputnik launch to take up rocketry against his father's wishes

Oct. 27: Mountain Top Removal (documentary) In video segments by BBC TV and Australian TV as well as 60 Minutes, news broadcasters report on the devastating effects of the controversial method of coal mining known as mountain top removal.

Nov. 3: People Like Us (2001, documentary directed by Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker. 124 minutes) People Like Us tackles a question rarely addressed so explicitly in the popular media: Are all Americans created equal — or are some more equal than others?