Festival Welcomes Honored Documentary Filmmaker

by Haley Arni

An Academy Award-nominated documentary filmmaker whose work has examined the future of rural America will be the featured guest of the 41st Emory & Henry College Appalachian Literary Festival held on September 19-20, 2023, on the Emory campus.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon will present a screening of her latest film, “King Coal,” beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday, September 20, in the Kennedy-Reedy Theatre of the McGlothlin Center for the Arts. She has described King Coal as “part documentary, part fable” that is a “complicated and bittersweet love letter to this place…that draws upon the lives of us living here today.”

A native of Southwest Virginia and West Virginia, McMillion Sheldon is an Academy Award-nominated and Emmy and Peabody-winning documentary filmmaker. In addition to six Emmy Award nominations, she is a 2021 Creative Capital awardee, a 2021 Livingston Award finalist and a 2020 John Simon Guggenheim fellow.

Her work is built on telling the stories of places and their people, addressing the most urgent questions of our time.

In 2013, McMillion Sheldon released “Hollow,” an interactive documentary that examines the future of rural America through the eyes and voices of West Virginians, particularly in McDowell County. Hollow received a Peabody, News and Documentary Emmy Award nomination and 3rd Prize in the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards.

Her 2017 film, “Heroin(e),” was nominated for a 2018 Academy Award and won the 2018 News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Documentary. The short film premiered at the 2017 Telluride Film Festival and went on to screen hundreds of times across America as part of a community-driven impact campaign.

Coordinated by the Appalachian Center for Civic Life, the Appalachian Literary Festival celebrates the many forms of Appalachian narratives, including fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, memoir, digital storytelling, and the creative arts.

The festival offers a student-centered, publicly accessible opportunity to celebrate a particular artist’s work and teach from and about narratives rooted in Appalachia.

The festival is free and open to the public. For more information about festival events and featured guests, visit www.ehc.edu/literaryfestival2023.

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