Harlan County U.S.A. – with post screening discussion


Harlan County U.S.A (1976)
Director: Barbara Kopple
103 min

Saturday, April 8, 5:15 PM

Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award–winning Harlan County USA unflinchingly documents a grueling coal miners’ strike in a small Kentucky town. With unprecedented access, Kopple and her crew captured the miners’ sometimes violent struggles with strikebreakers, local police, and company thugs. Featuring a haunting soundtrack—with legendary country and bluegrass artists Hazel Dickens, Merle Travis, Sarah Gunning, and Florence Reece—the film is a heartbreaking record of the thirteen-month struggle between a community fighting to survive and a corporation dedicated to the bottom line.

Introduction and post screening discussion with: Jack Wright and Jerry Johnson

Jerry Johnson is a coal miner who was on strike with his fellow miners in Kentucky when Barbara Kopple began filming Harlan County U.S.A. Johnson played a very active roll in helping organize the strike and plays a prominent role in the film. Johnson, now a landscaper, manages black lung and lives in Casey County, Kentucky.

Jack Wright is no coal miner’s daughter, but the grandson of a coal miner and a nephew of coal miners. In 2007 he released Music of Coal, a book and CD anthology celebrating the Appalachian Coalfields and culture. Wright taught at OU Film School for 22 years retiring in 2011. He continues performing music and being involved in filmmaking and living in Athens, Ohio with his wife Sharon and their dog Princess Fiona Barker.