Doc10 Premiere: King Coal. Post-screening Q&A with Director Elaine Sheldon.
Is the long reign of “king coal”—black gold, toxic fuel—finally waning? In this exquisitely crafted mesmerizing meditation on the mythic power of the precious material, Oscar-nominated filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon excavates her West Virginia roots and finds herself and her community at a crossroads. Caught between past and future, myth and reality, loyalty and truth, Sheldon, a coal-miner’s daughter herself, takes viewers on a journey of evocative contradictions, from gorgeous images of verdant Appalachian vistas and heartfelt tributes to fallen miners to glimpses of environmental destruction and antiquated traditions that seem out of step with the present (see the “Bituminous Coal Queen pageant”). “Personal, poetic, and spiritual” (Indiewire), “impassioned” and “artfully told” (The Playlist), King Coal is an elegiac look at the shackles of history, and a yearning for what comes next.