Closing out the Winter season of NYC’s Stranger Than Fiction next Tuesday, March 15: HARLAN COUNTY USA
Premiering at the New York Film Festival, Barbara Kopple’s portrait of striking Kentucky coal miners took home the 1976 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, as well as a special award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. Recognized as one of the most significant documentaries on organized labor made in the US, it was added to the US National Film Registry in 1990, the second year of its existence.
Even after 35 years, HARLAN COUNTY USA still retains its impact and relevance, especially given the ongoing controversy in Wisconsin over union rights. The men and women profiled in Kopple’s film wage a long and bitter strike for better working conditions and wages, often facing violence from thugs hired as strikebreakers. Living among the families affected, Kopple and her team themselves face some of this violence as shown in a particularly memorable scene in this beautifully shot and paced documentary. Of note is the focus the film places not only on the striking male workers, but on their wives, strong women who show themselves to be effective organizers and partners in their families’ struggles for a better life.
The event will include a Q&A with Kopple.