“King Coal” Screening will Take Place at the Granada Theater on September 22nd

On September 22nd, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon will have a showing and a Q&A of our newest film, ‘King Coal,’ at the Granada Theater in Bluefield. The Nicholas County native is a documentary-based director who likes to show the stories of West Virginia.

“I guess I make films in the region and then West Virginia because it’s a place I love and a place that I’m invested in the future and the future of our stories. I grew up hearing a lot of negativity about where I’m from, and I try to tell stories that don’t ignore the issues but address them in a way that shows hope and resilience,” states McMillion. “And I find that to be a very fulfilling thing to do, is to look for the stories that oftentimes the sort of unsung heroes or the nuances of a story that maybe you think you know, that you don’t have the full information on and I feel like I could do that best in my own backyard where I have trust and connections and skin in the game about what happens with our stories in the future.”
This feature-length documentary is made up of two parts. There are observational scenes of coal culture and a written voiceover in which McMillion Sheldon voices herself to bring up questions to the audience.
“It explores the impact of coal mining on our culture, our sense of identity and belonging, and all the rituals we do as a community, and also asks questions about the future, what our future will look like as employment in the industry goes down and as the culture around coal changes. What will we continue to identify with and gather in our communities? So the film is really an exploration, not so much of politics or environment or economics, but one of the soul and the psyche. And how do we relate to this industry that’s had such a major impact on our state and our region over the past 100 years? How do we deal with the loss of that community moving forward? So, everyone, I wanted to tell this story because I think coal is it divides people. People have their opinions about coal, and we didn’t want to tell a story that was playing into that. We wanted to tell a story of community. We want to tell a story of resilience, and my own grandpa is in the film. He’s a previously retired miner, and I had four generations of miners in my family. So I try to tell the story from a very personal perspective of what it feels like to see this culture changing and fading over time. As in my adult life.”
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in January and traveling it to various film festivals, they did a screening in Charleston and have been wanting to bring it to the coalfields of West Virginia since.
“So doing it in Bluefield, where it has a rich coal history, is really important to us because we want the community there to be involved in the conversation about the future. So we’re really excited to collaborate with the Granada and be able to bring this film and the conversation afterward to the film.
So it’ll be great,” exclaimed McMillion Sheldon.
So whether or not you can see this film at the Granada or when it releases, McMillion Sheldon wants everyone to leave the theater with this thought.

“Well, I think we hear a lot about sort of the doom and gloom of the economy and what we’re going to do about it and these types of things. And I just hope that this film reminds us of our resilience, reminds us of the power and beauty of this place and that we can reinvent ourselves. And that doesn’t mean we leave behind our history in that, but actually, our history is part of our future. And so I just hope that people feel inspired to have a conversation that’s not just about the politics and not just about the things that divide us, but the things that bring us together. So that’s my hope for this film.”

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