[Videolib] revised, expanded PRESS RELEASE for WV Film Week in NYC

Steve Fesenmaier (fesenms@wvlc.lib.wv.us)
Fri, 05 Mar 2004 14:48:21 -0500

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Press Release
West Virginia Film Festival at Pioneer Theater, NYC
March 5, 2004
For more information, contact:
Pioneer Theater, New York City
Gianna Chachere gianna@howlfestival.com
Steve Fesenmaier, West Virginia Library Commission,

Wednesday, March 24- Tuesday, March 30, 2004
The Two Boots Pioneer Theater
155 East 3rd Street (at Ave. A)
New York, NY 10009
(212) 254-3300

For the first time anywhere OUTSIDE West Virginia, there will be a
weeklong celebration of films made inside West Virginia by West
Virginians – with the exception of Karen Kramer’s “Jolo Serpent
Handlers,” Mimi Pickering’s “ Hazel Dickens” and Robert Salyer’s
“Sludge.” Those films were made in WV by two Appalshop filmmakers and
New Yorker Kramer.

West Virginia is a small state cut out of Virginia as a result of the
Civil War in 1863. It is currently most famous for being the home state
of pilot Chuck Yeager and Pvt. Jessica Lynch. During the weeklong
festival of documentary films and one new independent feature film, New
York City will have its first opportunity to explore “darkest
Appalachia,” West Virginia being the ONLY state completely within the
boundaries of the region.

The series will consist of 17 films, dating between 1977 and 2004. Two
films will be shown for the first time – “Sludge” as a work-in-progress
and the recently completed “Inspired Folk.” Most of the films are
documentary because the amazing realities of the state can only be shown
in this format. ( Matewan by John Sayles was entirely made within the
state, though not in the town of Matewan which had been devastated by

The series begins with NYC filmmaker Karen Kramer’s first film, The Jolo
Serpent Handlers (1977) and concludes with Robert Salyer’s
work-in-progress, “Sludge,” starring WV native son Jack Spadaro, the
whipping-boy for the Bush Administration’s war on the environment. ( He
will be profiled on 60 Minutes in March.)

West Virginia was the first “Wild West,” a land where coal miners and
company soldiers fought real battles. Before John Ford invented the
Western, D.W. Griffith, Henry King and other early filmmakers made
Easterns like Way Down East and Tol’able David. John Sayles returned to
this model in 1987 when he came to film his version of the Matewan
Massacre, starring Smiling Sid Hatfield.

The film series begins on Wednesday, March 24 at the Pioneer Theater in
the East Village and concludes on Tuesday, March 30th. Programmer Steve
Fesenmaier, director of the state library’s Film Services Division from
1978-99 and film critic for Graffiti magazine, will introduce the
series. Karen Kramer will join him, talking about her adventure filming
the Holiness people in Jolo, McDowell County. During the coming nights
other filmmakers from the state will introduce their films, and answer
questions about how they became independent filmmakers before the term
was invented.

Robert Gates, WV’s leading activist filmmaker and longest-working
director, will both start the series with his experimental portrait
“Communication from Weber” and conclude the week with his 1977 landmark
film, In Memory of the Land and People, a film that was shown in the US
Congress and helped change American environmental history, and Mucked,
his latest expose of mountaintop removal mining, the most outlandish
attack on the earth the human species has so far invented.

Mike Lilly will present the only feature film to be shown, “Correct
Change,” an award-winning film based on a true story transplanted from
San Francisco’s Tenderloin district to Moundsville Prison and
Lilly is the uncredited screenwriter of “Hoosiers,” widely considered to
be the greatest sports film ever made.

There will be many films about the singers and artists of the state,
starting with Susan Burt & Doug Chadwick’s 1979 portrait of the Lilly
Brothers, “True Facts…In a Country Song” up to the 2004 look at outsider
artists in West Virginia in Gerry Milnes,” Inspired Folk – Outsider
Artist in West Virginia.” ( This will be the first public showing of the
film.) Bluefield daughter Hazel Dickens will also be presented in a
film by Mimi Pickering, a founder of Appalshop who has made several of
her best films in WV. Ray Schmitt, the most prolific filmmaker in the
state during the last few years, will show his films about Robert
Singleton and the Tusing Sisters.

Other films will be about the unknown history of the Mountain State.
B.J. Gudmundsson’s film, “Out of the Storm,” was shown for a month in
the Harvard Forest Museum since it tells the story of an entire logging
company that moved from WV to New England to help salvage their
forests. Other films present the amazing true story of America’s most
famous feud, in Bill Richardson’s “Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys” as
well as Daniel Boyd’s “Red Salt and Reynolds,” the story of America’s
first industrial cartel – the salt cartel of the Kanawha Valley. A
recreation of WV’s most famous stolen documentary – a film about Sheriff
Sid Hatfield, the real hero of the Matewan Massacre – written by WV’s
leading playwright Jean Battlo will also be shown.

David Claypool’s version of David Lynch in Appalachia will be shown in
“Lost Love.” Amazing magic will be presented in Milnes’ “Signs, Cures
and Witchery.”

During recent years many filmmakers have come to West Virginia to film
its history. Recently “Gods and Generals” was made in the state, using
Harper’s Ferry as a substitute for Chancellorsville. Hollywood came to
the state in 2003 to film “Win A Date with Tad Hamilton!” about a sweet
young girl from Frazier’s Bottom, WV. Even Lars von Trier is setting
his new film, “Dear Wendy,”( Nov. 2004) in Southern West Virginia –
substituting sets in Copenhagen and German coal mines. This film series
will be the first chance that anyone ANYWHERE outside of the state has
been given to see the real stories, made by West Virginia’s own
filmmakers – or a few honorable visitors. – Steve Fesenmaier

You can learn more about West Virginia/Appalachian film at:

>From West Virginia to the East Village
West Virginia films at the Pioneer Theater

Wednesday, March 24 through Tuesday, March 30
Wed. March 24 Beyond the Night of the Hunter
* The Jolo Serpent Handlers –1977, 40 min. Karen Kramer
* Communication from Weber –1988, 14 min. Robert Gates
* Lost Love –1995, 40 min. David Claypool
Thursday, March 25 The Mean Streets of Appalachia
Correct Change- 2002,90 min. Mike Lilly
Friday, March 26 Singers and Storms
* True Facts…in A Country Song -1979, 25 min. Susan Burt & Doug Chadwick

* Hazel Dickens – 2001, 55 min. Mimi Pickering
* Out of the Storm – 2000, 55 min. B.J. Gudmundsson
Saturday, March 27 Light and Texture
* Until I Become Light—Robert Singleton—2003,55 min. Ray Schmitt
* The Texture of Life – The Tusing Sisters—2004,28 min. Ray Schmitt
Sunday, March 28 Cosmologists and Outsiders
* Signs, Cures and Witchery– Cosmologists -2001, 55 min. Gerry Milnes
* Inspired Folk: Outsider Artists - 2004, 55 min. Gerry Milnes
Monday, March 29 Mythology and History
* Feud: The Hatfields and McCoys- 2002, 32 min. Bill Richardson
* Red Salt and Reynolds – 2003 40 min Daniel Boyd
* Smilin Sid – 2001 10 min. Daniel Boyd and Bill Richardson
Tuesday March 30 In Memory of the Land and People
* In Memory of the Land and People-1977, 55 min. Robert Gates
* Mucked- 2003, 53 min. Robert Gates
? Sludge—a work in Progress—2004, 45 mins. Robert Salyer

Lobby Music by John Blisard

The Two Boots Pioneer Theater is located at: 155 East 3rd Street (at
Avenue A)
New York, NY 10009 (212) 254-3300 Subways: F train to 2nd Ave
6 train to Bleeker St Tickets: $9.00, $6.50 members

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