think globally. act hillbilly.
The 2020 Foreign Press Association Media Award - Art and Culture Story of the Year
The Los Angeles Film Festival - Best Documentary
The Los Angeles Film Festival
The Winona Frozen River Film Festival
The American Film Showcase
The MountainFilm Festival
The Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival
The Beloit International Film Festival
The Beaufort International Film Festival
The Franklin International Film Festival - Audience Fvorite Award
The Anchorage International Film Festival
The Nashville Film Festival
The Traverse City Film Festival
The SBIFF Call To Action Film Festival
The Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival

The Heartland International Film Festival
The Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival

The Charlotte Film Festival
WINNER of the 2018 Best Score, Documentary Feature at the Scruffy City Film & Music Festival
WINNER of the 2018 Audience Award, Documentary Feature at the Scruffy City Film & Music Festival
The Nevada City Film Festival
The YES Film Festival of Columbus, Indiana
The Arlington International Film Festival
The San Francisco Documentary Festival

The Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers
The Sheffield Doc/Fest
The Scruffy City Film & Music Festival
The Women Texas Film Festival

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Anchorage Film Festival, Anchorage


Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville

Ritz Theatre/The Tennessee Valley Art Association, Sheffield

Troy University, Troy


Hot Springs Film Festival, Hot Springs
(Opening Night Movie)


Glendale Laemmle Theater, Glendale

Los Angeles Film Festival, Los Angeles
WINNER: Jury Prize for Best Documentary

University of Southern California, Los Angeles

Nevada City Film Festival, Nevada City

Appreciating Divesity Film Series, Oakland

Ojai Film Festival, Ojai

Appreciating Divesity Film Series, Piedmont

Delancey Street Screening Room, San Francisco

San Francisco Documentary Film Festival, San Francisco

Santa Barbara International Film Festival: Call to Action, Santa Barbara

Santa Monica Laemmle Theater, Santa Monica

Sebastopol International Film Festival, Sebastopol


Rocky Mountain Women's Film Festival, Colorado Springs

MountainFilm, Telluride


The Line Hotel, DC Northwest


Cine World Film Festival, Sarasota


The Jessye Norman School of the Arts, Augusta

University of North Georgia, Dahlonega


Columbia College, Chicago


YES Fest, Columbus

Heartland Film Festival, Indianapolis


Union College, Barbourville

Berea College, Berea

Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Foundation, Bowling Green

Speed Art Museum, Louisville

Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond


Bowdoin College, Bowdoin


Arlington International Film Festival, Arlington

Boston Screening

Bentley University, Waltham


Traverse City Film Festival, Traverse City
WINNER: Founder's Award in Documentary Filmmaking


Winona Frozen River Film Festival, Winona
WINNER: Best of Fest


DOC NYC, New York

Cinema Village Theater, New York
(Weeklong Theatrical Release)


Appalachian Studies Association Conference, Asheville

Boone Film Festival, Boone
WINNER: Best Documentary

Charlotte Film Festival, Charlotte

Catawba College, Salisbury


The Sanctuary, Cincinnati


Beaufort International Film Festival, Beaufort


Film Score and Scruffy City Film Festival, Knoxville
WINNER: Audience Award and Best Score

Belcourt Theater, Nashville

Nashville Film Festival, Nashville
(Closing Night Movie)


Women in Texas Film Festival, Dallas


Doctober, Bellingham


The Raleigh Playhouse, Beckley

Underground Theater, Charleston

Marshall University, Huntington

The Lewis Theatre, Lewisburg

West Virginia University, Morgantown

Reynolds Hall, Shepherdstown

LaBelle Theater, South Charleston


Beloit International Film Festival, Beloit



Sheffield Doc Film | Player, Sheffield


The National Endowment For The Humanities
The West Virginia Humanities Council
Champan University
South Carolina Humanities
Virginia Foundation for the Humanties
The National Endowment For The Arts
Ohio Humanities
The Fledgling Fund

Fiscal Sponsors

West Virgina Filmmakers Guild

The International Documentary Association

The Southern Documentry Fund

Media Working Group

Press for hillbilly

"[hillbilly is] a significant Oscar contender."

- The Wrap

"An effective rebuttal to media stereotyping."

- The LA Times

"Three and a half stars... This is an ambitious and enlightening documentary, filled with wisdom and asking great questions."


"Hillbilly stands out as a unique and personal tale that is compassionately told. Kudos to these filmmakers for an absorbing documentary that makes one see how history/herstory not only repeats itself but the importance of keeping a vigilant eye on keeping our stories alive in order to hopefully get better."

- The Hollywood Times

"H is for 'Hillbilly,' the opening night film. Its political, philosophical and cultural deconstruction of the dissimilarities between the Appalachian stereotype and the complicated realities of the region is one of the best films of the year, period."

- Arkansas Times

"The movie walks an expert tightrope and successfully gives a more vibrant, textured look at the region and its people."

- Awards Circuit

"With an endorsement from Dolly Parton herself, this investigative look at the unfairly maligned Appalachian people draws back the curtain on years of painful media representation. Hillbilly celebrates the humanity and diversity of this misunderstood American populace at a time when we all need to understand each other a little better."

- IndieWire

"Hillbilly is forward-looking, believing there's something special about its region-specific variety of what elsewhere would be called rednecks or bumpkins."

- The Hollywood Reporter

"A loving portrait of their homeland that both enlightens and entertains."

- Filmmaker Magazine

"Filmed in the midst of the 2016 presidential election, the documentary definitely could have skewed towards the political... But the directors wisely take an approach of capturing without commentary."

- When You're Not Working

"Hillbilly is an entertaining, informative, and sobering look at Appalachia."

- Film-Forward

"Hillbilly is remarkable for lending an attentive ear to the Appalachia people absent any judgment. In this regard, York and Rubin have provided a springboard toward a greater understanding of not only their subject region, but of the United States."

- Pop Matters

"The film's sensitive mining of this culture is full of rewards."

- WNYC: NY Public Radio

"A fresh and revelatory documentary about Appalachia that combines a historical look at the othering and marginalizing of the region with a current look at some of the activists who are beginning to counter stereotypes of lazy, feckless moonshiners."

- People's World

About The Film

Directors' Statement

Featuring bell hooks, Ronny Cox and Billy Redden from Deliverance, director Michael Apted, activists and writers Frank X Walker, Crystal Good, and Silas House, and musicians Sam Gleaves and Amythyst Kiah, hillbilly arrives at a crucial moment, confronting depictions of Appalachian and other rural people on a broad, national level.

It introduces audiences to a nuanced, authentic Appalachia that is quite conscious of how it has been portrayed and the impacts of those portrayals. The documentary deconstructs mainstream representations while asking crucial questions: Where did the hillbilly archetype come from and why has it endured on-screen for more than a hundred years? How does it relate to the exploitation of the land and people who live there? How do Appalachian and rural people view themselves as a result of these negative portrayals, and what is the impact on the rest of America?

The Filmmakers: Ashley York and Sally Rubin

Why We Made This Film

As Appalachian-American filmmakers, we committed to making this film in order to offer the world a rich and varied point of view of this historically misunderstood region.

Ashley is a trained journalist and filmmaker who is guided by a feminist approach. Her work has taken her from America's prisons to its Native American reservations and seeks to build on the long history of non-fiction work that addresses significant social challenges of our time, focusing in on the Appalachian region and the experiences of women and girls and the queer community. She is motivated by innovative approaches to storytelling, and by the desire to give voice to people who have been underserved, unheard, or misrepresented. She is inspired by a rich collection of feminist filmmakers who have made socially provocative films such as Anne Lewis' Fast Food Women (1991) and Barbara Kopple's Academy-Award winning documentary, Harlan County USA (1976) -- two films which inspired her to make documentaries.

Sally's mother was raised in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee, and Sally spent substantial time growing up visiting relatives, scattered throughout the Tennessee and North Carolinian Appalachian mountains. As a young filmmaker, Sally associate produced David Sutherland's Country Boys, a Frontline film about two teenage boys growing up in eastern Kentucky, and then made her own film (with Jen Gilomen), Deep Down, about mountaintop-removal coal mining in a small eastern Kentucky town. Deep Down was nominated for an Emmy Award for its outreach component, the Virtual Mine, and broadcast nationally on PBS' Independent Lens. The time Sally spent in Tennessee growing up contrasted with her experience making films in the region as an adult has sharpened her sensitivity to both insider and outsider gazes on Appalachia, and ignited her passion for telling the tragic, comedic, and poignant story of hillbilly.


this movie is for anyone who is a hillbilly or anyone who knows one

Appalachia is no stranger to the complexity of media representation. Since our country's inception, there has been a palpable divide between Urban and Rural America. Within this great divide, certain regions are viewed as "other," and blamed for America's social ills.

Since the presidential election, the cultural divide in America has expanded. Stereotyping and slurs are rampant, finger-pointing and name-calling abound. hillbilly goes on a personal and political journey into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, exploring the role of media representation in the creation of the iconic American "hillbilly," and examining the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of this infamous stereotype.

Filmed in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, hillbilly uncovers an unexpected set of artists, poets, activists, queer musicians, "Affrilachian" poets, and intersectional feminists -- all unexpected voices emerging from this historically misunderstood region.

hillbilly is a timely and urgent exploration of how we see and think about poverty and rural identity in contemporary America, offering a call for dialogue during this divisive time in U.S. history.

Film Trailer

The Production Team

Ashley York

Ashley York


Ashley is a Kentucky-born mediamaker and film producer who is interested in documentaries, socially conscious media, and emerging modes of storytelling. She has worked on Academy Award® nominated teams and as a producer on projects that have premiered at the Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW film festivals as well as on Oprah Winfrey's Network, A&E, IFC, HBO, Discovery, and the Sundance Channel.

She co-directed and produced Tig, an Official Selection of the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival. Ashley was one of nine women debuting a feature film at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival.

Ashley is committed to a feminist approach and intrigued by work that intersects the emotional and ideological. She is inspired greatly by the work of bell hooks, the late Aimé J. Ellis and Susan Sontag, and Silas House. She produced two 2011 Sundance Film Festival Official selections: Becoming Chaz, about Chaz Bono's gender transition; and GRAB, about the Laguna Pueblo tribe in New Mexico.

She is a member of Women in Film, the International Documentary Association, and a founding member of the Los Angeles-based design collective, Take Action Games, which has been recognized for its commitment to highlighting issues that affect women and girls and partnered with various social justice and mission-based organizations to make digital activist projects, including the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, the International Crisis Group, the Independent Television Service, and the Center for Asian American Media. Take Action Games received an Emmy Award nomination in the category of New Approaches to News and Documentary Film as well as the prestigious Governors' Award from the Academy of Arts & Sciences (the Emmy's highest honor) for a campaign co-produced by mtvU to raise awareness about the ongoing genocide in the Darfur region of the Sudan.

Ashley received her BA in journalism from the University of Kentucky and her MFA from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts where she currently teaches.

Sally Rubin

Sally Rubin


Sally is a documentary filmmaker and editor who has worked in the field for more than 15 years. Her mother is from Calderwood, Tennessee, a hollow in the Smoky mountains. She grew up visiting Appalachia and has been spending time with family and friends in the region for many years. Sally recently completed Life on the Line, a documentary about a teenage girl living on the border of the US and Mexico -- a Fledgling Fund recipient that premiered in 2014 at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and across the country on PBS.

Her previous film, Deep Down (co-directed by Jen Gilomen), was an ITVS, MacArthur, Chicken and Egg, and Fledgling-funded feature-length documentary about two friends in eastern Kentucky who find themselves divided over mountaintop removal coal mining near their homes. The film was part of the 2010-2011 Independent Lens Emmy-winning PBS series, and has reached almost 1.5 million people through its broadcast, distribution, and outreach campaign. It was nominated for an Emmy for its Virtual Mine outreach project, in the category of New Approaches to News and Documentary.

Sally's other credits include The Last Mountain, a film about her father's death in a hiking accident that was broadcast on PBS, Robert Greenwald's Iraq for Sale: the War Profiteers, (Editor), and the television series "The Freedom Files" (Editor), as well as David Sutherland's 6-hour Frontline special Country Boys, about two boys in Floyd County, Kentucky (Associate Producer), and "Riverwebs" (Editor), which broadcast nationally on PBS.

She recently completed a short that aired in conjunction with David Sutherland's Kind Hearted Woman on Frontline in 2013. In 2004, Sally founded the groundbreaking Straight Outta Grrrlville Film Festival in San Francisco, and continues to produce local events and benefits for artists and filmmakers, in conjunction with her own continued work.

Sally is also a full-time documentary professor at Chapman University and a graduate of the M.A. program in Documentary at Stanford University.

Doug Blush

Doug Blush

Executive Producer

Doug Blush is an award-winning director, producer, editor, writer and cinematographer whose work includes over 80 feature and television projects. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and the American Cinema Editors (ACE), and his recent credits include editing the 2013 Oscar-winning 20 Feet From Stardom, for which he received the ACE Eddie Award for Documentary Editing, and The Music of Strangers:Yo Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble, both from director Morgan Neville. He was Co-Editor and Associate Producer of Kirby Dick's The Hunting Ground in 2014 and the Oscar nominated and Emmy winning The Invisible War in 2012. He also supervised the Emmy-winning Jim: The James Foley Story, and new films include the Sundance 2017 documentaries The Mars Generation, Chasing Coral, and Icarus.

His film Of Two Minds, co-directed with his wife Lisa Klein in 2013, was a popular documentary on Netflix. He is producing and supervising a new film with Lisa, called The S Word, for 2017.

Doug co-owns MadPix Films, a production company in Los Angeles, and has taught classes at USC, UCLA, Syracuse University and YoungArts in Miami, and sessions in Indonesia, Brazil, Armenia, Malaysia, China, the Netherlands and more.

Silas House

Silas House

Executive Producer

Silas, an Appalachian author, was born and grew up in Lily, Kentucky. He has degrees from Sue Bennett College, Eastern Kentucky University and Spalding University. House was chosen as one of the ten emerging talents in the South by the Millennial Gathering of Writers at Vanderbilt University. House's first novel, Clay's Quilt, was published in 2001. It appeared briefly on the New York Times Best Seller List and became a success throughout the South. It was a finalist for both the Southeast Booksellers' Association fiction award and the Appalachian Writers' Association Book of the Year Award.

He followed with A Parchment of Leaves (2003), which became a national bestseller and was nominated for several major awards. The book was a finalist for the Southern Book Critics' Circle Prize and won the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Chaffin Award for Literature, the Kentucky Novel of the Year Award, and many others. House served as a writer-in-residence at Eastern Kentucky University and at Lincoln Memorial University from 2005 to 2010. At LMU he directed the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival.

In 2010 House became the NEH Chair in Appalachian Studies at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky.

David Sutherland

David Sutherland

Co-Executive Producer

David is a critically acclaimed filmmaker whose series The Farmer's Wife, Country Boys, and Kind Hearted Woman were seen by more than 40 million PBS Frontline and Independent Lens viewers.

Sutherland is known for his documentary portraits of the rural working poor, which command change via intimate observation.

His current film, Semper Fidelis, about a marine veteran married to an undocumented immigrant living in Mexico, will be released in 2018.

Jonathan Matthews

Jonathan Matthews


Jon grew up in Alum Creek, West Virginia. He practiced civil rights law for seven years and was legal director of the ACLU of Connecticut, before deciding to follow his dream of becoming a filmmaker.

In 2009, Jon was accepted -- with a full scholarship -- to NYU's graduate film program. At NYU, Jon worked as Spike Lee's teaching assistant and was awarded a film production grant from Mr. Lee.

Jon's thesis film, "Surviving Cliffside," premiered at the 2014 South by Southwest Film Festival and screened in a dozen festivals around the world. Jon's next film, a narrative feature called "Black Dog, Red Dog," was co-directed by James Franco and stars Mr. Franco, Olivia Wilde, and Whoopi Goldberg. It premiered in 2015.

He is currently in post on a narrative feature that he wrote and directed, called "Khali the Killer," a crime drama which is set to be released by Millennium Films in 2016.

Jon lives in Los Angeles and is an adjunct professor at Columbia College Hollywood.

Bryan Donnell

Bryan Donnell

Co-Producer & Cinematographer

Bryan is an award-winning director of photography who has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy for his verité work on an episode of "Intervention," which won the 2009 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program. He won the Palme d'Or for best short at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival, and one of his rare feature narratives won best cinematography at the Melbourne Underground Festival as well as best feature.

One of his first documentaries, the short Undesirables, won both an Emmy and Oscar in the student categories. He regularly works on Academy-Award nominated teams, including with Lucy Walker and Morgan Spurlock on his award-winning CNN series "Inside Man."

He has worked on projects all across the globe for ESPN, HBO, National Geographic, A&E, History, Discovery, OWN, Fox, MSNBC, Sundance, Lifetime, and Animal Planet. He earned his MFA at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, and a BA in Fine Art at UNC Chapel Hill.

Sam Cole

Sam Cole

Associate Producer

Sam Cole is a proud native of Lee County, Kentucky, where she was raised in a large, extended, mountain family. While a student at Berea College, she majored in Appalachian Studies (specifically regional literature), and worked for the College's literary magazine, Appalachian Heritage. Sam now works at her alma mater providing staff support for one of the six Academic Divisions, as well as for the Dean of Curriculum & Student Learning.

Writing is a very important part of Sam's life. She has had poems and stories published in several regional magazines and anthologies. She writes about topics including modern mountain life, working class struggles, and gender issues. Sam enjoys reading, discovering new music and films, spending time outdoors, and getting in quality kitchen time whenever possible.

Kayla Velloso

Kayla Velloso

Associate Producer

Kayla Summer Velloso is an emerging documentary filmmaker passionate about positive social change through art. She recently received her BA in Communication and Anthropology, with an emphasis in Documentary film, from Chapman University.

In January of 2014 she produced her first documentary, Lots of Love, which screened at the European Union Film Festival. Since then Kayla has interned for documentarians Lauren Greenfield (Queen of Versailles, 2012) and Robert Kenner (Food Inc., 2008), as well as continued to work on her own films.

Kayla co-produced, co-directed, and shot a short documentary, Phyllis, a film about the remarkable life of now 94 year old Phyllis Sues. She has worked in conjunction with the Orange County District Attorney to create a documentary film about human trafficking in Orange County. Most recently, she was cinematographer and co-editor of an award winning film about access to education in rural Laos; additionally, she co-directed a film about a multigenerational bespoke tailoring business in Thailand.

Kayla is passionate about research, storytelling through film, and is excited to continue working in the documentary field.

Tom Hansell

Tom Hansell

Field Producer

Tom Hansell teaches Appalachian Studies and Documentary Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and has twenty years experience at the Appalshop media arts center working with students and adults to create media about their communities. His 2002 documentary Coal Bucket Outlaw screened in China and Indonesia as well as throughout the US. Hansell's 2010 documentary, The Electricity Fairy, premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

Hansell's current documentary, After Coal, explores how communities in the coalfields of central Appalachia and south Wales have survived the collapse of the coal industry. After Coal premiered at the Hay-on-Wye Festival in the UK and at the Princeton Environmental Film Festival in the US.

Ceylan Carhoglu

Ceylan Carhoglu

Assistant Editor

Ceylan recently graduated from Chapman University with a degree in film production. In 2014 she co-produced and co-directed a short documentary, Phyllis, about an extraordinary 91-year-old woman who refuses to let her old age define how she lives her life, and other pieces like "The Happiest Place on Earth," an observational documentary that chronicles the coming-of-age story of an underprivileged child growing up in the middle of an impoverished Anaheim neighborhood. Her documentary, "Gardeners of the Forest," was a winner at the 2016 Emmys: College Television Awards and was nominated as a finalist for the 2016 Student Academy Awards.

Most recently, Ceylan has been assistant editing the Hillbilly documentary -- about the representation of the hillbilly stereotype in film and television, and has been co-producing and directing a documentary about a new discovery in space travel.

She is very passionate about wildlife conservation and is inspired by stories that challenge the way we think and the system as we know it.

Film Advisors

Kirby Dick

Kirby Dick


Kirby Dick is a two time Emmy-award winning and two-time Academy award-nominated documentary film director. His most recent film, The Hunting Ground (2015), a monumental exposé about sexual assault on college campuses, premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, was released by Radius/The Weinstein Company and CNN, is the 2016 recipient of the Producer Guild of America's Stanley Kramer award, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song. His previous film, The Invisible War (2012), a groundbreaking investigation into the epidemic of rape within the US military, won two Emmy Awards for Best Documentary and Outstanding Investigative Journalism, the 2012 Independent Spirit Award 2012 for Best Documentary, a Peabody Award, and was nominated for an Academy Award. He also directed Twist of Faith (2004), the story of a man confronting the trauma of his past sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, which was also nominated for an Academy Award. Other films include Outrage (2009), nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Investigative Journalism, This Film Is Not Yet Rated (2006), a breakthrough investigation of the MPAA's secretive film ratings system, and Derrida (2002), a complex portrait of the world-renowned French philosopher Jacques Derrida. He is the 2012 recipient of the Nestor Almendros Prize for Courage and Filmmaking and the 2013 Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize.

Anne Lewis

Anne Lewis


Anne Lewis lived in Appalachia for decades, making documentary films about social action, human rights, labor, environmental justice, and cultural democracy - films that create opportunity for social change. She has made documentary films since 1970 and was associate director and assistant camerawoman for the Academy Award® winning documentary, Harlan County USA (1976). Her work includes Morristown: in the air and sun, a working class response to globalization; Shelter, institutional response to domestic violence through the stories of four survivors; To Save the Land and People, history of the citizen's movement to abolish strip mining; Justice in the Coalfields, about the UMWA strike against Pittston and what justice means to workers; Belinda, AIDS activist who fought against homophobia and prejudice; and Fast Food Women about the working poor. Her intent is to create meaningful work, tell the truth about working class Americans, and contribute to the vitality of independent filmmaking. She is a senior lecturer in editing and documentary filmmaking at the University of Texas at Austin.

Barbara Ellen Smith

Barbara Ellen Smith


Barbara Ellen Smith is professor of Women's and Gender Studies in the Department of Sociology at Virginia Tech. Her interdisciplinary scholarship addresses social inequality and movements for social justice in Appalachia and the U.S. South. The Aspen Institute, U.S. Department of Labor, and the Ford, Rockefeller, and Charles Stewart Mott Foundations, among other sources, have supported her research. Her books include Digging Our Own Graves: Coal Miners and the Struggle over Black Lung Disease (Temple University Press, 1987), and Transforming Places: Lessons from Appalachia (University of Illinois Press, 2012), which she co-edited with Steve Fisher.

Tony Harkins

Tony Harkins


Dr. Tony Harkins is an Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Popular Culture Studies major at Western Kentucky University. He is the author of Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon (Oxford University Press, 2004) and the co-editor of the Media section of the Encyclopedia of Appalachia (University of Tennessee Press, 2006). His current research explores the concept of "flyover country" and the changing ways Americans in the postwar era have envisioned the cultural and geographic boundaries and intersections of the nation.

Anna Creadick

Anna Creadick


Anna Creadick is an Associate Professor of English at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY, where she teaches courses in twentieth-century American literature and culture, and contributes to the American Studies and Women's Studies programs. Author of the monograph "Perfectly Average: The Pursuit of Normality in Postwar America" (UMass Press, 2010), she has also published essays on popular fiction, film, and other subjects in such journals as "Mosaic: A Journal for the Interdisciplinary Study of Literature", "The Southern Literary Journal", and "Appalachian Journal". Her current research project investigates the relationship between reading and middle-class identity at mid-century. Creadick grew up in Boone, NC, but drifted north for graduate school, and now finds herself teaching about Appalachia and the South at a small liberal arts college in western New York state.

Jerry Williamson

Jerry Williamson

Film Historian

Jerry Williamson is a retired professor of Appalachian Studies and English at Appalachian State University. He was the founding editor of the Appalachian Journal in 1972 and edited that quarterly publication for 28 years until his retirement in 2000. He was honored with the Laurel Leaves Award from the Appalachian Consortium and a special Weatherford Award from Berea College in 2000. Jerry and his wife, Pam, received the Helen M. Lewis Community Service Award from the Appalachian Studies Association in 2005. He is author of Interviewing Appalachia (with Edwin T. Arnold, University of Tennessee Press, 1994), Southern Mountaineers in Silent Films (McFarland, 1994), and Hillbillyland: What the Movies Did to the Mountains and What the Mountains Did to the Movies (University of North Carolina Press, 1995), as well as numerous articles, book reviews, and interviews with Appalachian authors, filmmakers, and activists.

Meredith McCarroll

Meredith McCarroll


Meredith McCarroll was born and raised in Western North Carolina. Her research focuses on regional and racial identity, and her book Unwhite: Appalachia, Race, and Film is forthcoming from University of Georgia Press. Here she asserts that the role of the Appalachian figure as Other can best be understood in racial terms, wherein Appalachia provides contrast which whitens and purifies the ideal Southerner. Appalachian figures are variably raced as unwhite, a term used to denote the phenotypic whiteness of nearly all Appalachian figures yet the use of nonwhite positioning to sustain white normative privilege. McCarroll is the Director of the Writing and Rhetoric at Bowdoin College where she works to maintain her Southern accent, and teaches courses on writing and Southern Literature and Film.

Kirk Hazen

Kirk Hazen


Kirk Hazen is a Professor of Linguistics at West Virginia University, where he also directs the West Virginia Dialect Project. His research program focuses on the influence of linguistic and social factors on language variation patterns and has been supported by both the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition to 35 articles and book chapters, he has authored An Introduction to Language and Identity and Ethnicity in the Rural South. Hazen invited us to document his research with the West Virginia Dialect Project where he and his students have interviewed more than 200 people across West Virginia. Hazen's main contribution to the film is within the theme of dialect and accent as he articulates issues around southern accents and shame.

Chad Berry

Chad Berry

Author & Administrator

Chad Berry came to the office of the Academic Vice President and Dean of the Faculty at Berea College after serving five years as Director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center. He is the author of Southern Migrants, Northern Exiles, inspired by his grandparents, who reluctantly left Tennessee in the 1940s, going first to Akron, Ohio, and ultimately settling in Indiana, where they found jobs and the economic opportunity that eluded them in the South. We selected Berry due to his decades of experience studying the region and his deep personal connection to the place. He offers a critical perspective about how the region is as much a state of mind as it is a social construct and geographical region.

Debi Taylor Tate

Debi Taylor Tate

Regulatory Officer

Deborah Taylor Tate served as the Federal Communications Commissioner of the United States from 2006 until 2008. Often referred to as the "Children's Commissioner," she was a leading voice on issues affecting families and children, and has been at the forefront of the movement to ensure that advances in communications technologies benefit all Americans. Commissioner Tate now works closely with Geena Davis and the Institute on Gender in the Media. Commissioner Tate has led the way nationally in innovations around media literacy, and in addition to general counsel on the film's themes is assisting in funding and distribution of the film as well as production of Her Appalachia, our interactive companion piece about women and girls in the region

Emily Satterwhite

Emily Satterwhite


Emily Satterwhite teaches Appalachian studies, American Studies, and Pop Culture, and coordinates the American Studies and Pop Culture minors at Virginia Tech. Satterwhite's research fields include critical regionalism, reception studies, and the politics of culture. Satterwhite analyzes fan mail and online customer reviews to understand why certain readers have romanticized images of the Appalachian region. Her research centers on the politics of culture, especially in relation to imagined geographies and identity formation. Her first book, "Dear Appalachia: Readers, Identity, and Popular Fiction since 1878," was published by the University Press of Kentucky and recently won the Weatherford Award for best nonfiction work illuminating the Appalachian South. Satterwhite suggests that upwardly and geographically mobile white readers have sought to identify and embrace Appalachia as a rooted, rural, communal, and simple place apart from mainstream America. Appalachian-set bestsellers helped stimulate the formation of a regional identity movement that has critiqued the emotional costs of upward mobility, soothed white readers' concerns about lack of identity and belonging, and fostered readers' attachments to place in a society that belittles rural locales.

Lora Smith

Lora Smith

Community Advocate

Lora Smith serves as the Network Officer for Central Appalachia at the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation where she manages the foundation's strategic grantmaking in the region. A native of Southeastern Kentucky, Lora comes from a background of social justice engagement in Appalachia. She is a former staff person with the grassroots group Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, where her media and storytelling work supported environmental and economic justice organizing. After leaving her post there, she served as the National Outreach Director for Deep Down (2010). As Outreach Director she coordinated screenings that connected diverse communities directly affected by coal's cradle to grave cycle. Through her work with Deep Down, Lora participated in Working Films' Reel Power project and served as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the series. Lora holds a B.A. in Individualized Studies from New York University where she graduated magna cum laude and received the Founders' Day Award. She also studied folklore and documentary studies as a graduate student at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is a Southeast Council of Foundations (SECF) Hull Fellow, a fellowship program for young leaders in philanthropy, and serves on the board of Working Films.

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" I'm happy to see somebody trying to cover us as we really are and not what some people think we are. It's wonderful the attention you've paid to so many areas that are so important to all of us. I'm proud to have been mentioned in the film a time or two. "

- Dolly Parton on hillbilly

Dolly Parton