Marshall to host free screening of documentary ‘hillbilly’

Marshall University will present a free screening of the documentary film hillbilly from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, in Room 154 of Smith Hall on Marshall’s Huntington campus. The documentary, directed by Sally Rubin and Ashley York, seeks to expand understanding of Appalachia, tracing the evolution of the hillbilly stereotype by connecting it to corporate exploitation of the region’s natural resources.

The event is free and open to the public. Co-Producer Jon Matthews will be in attendance for a Q&A, and the directors plan to participate via Skype.

hillbilly examines the experience of rural voters and seeks to expand understanding of Appalachia by featuring some of its diverse communities, including Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute, where young adults have found a sense of community, and the Affrilachian Poets, a grassroots group of Appalachian poets of color. hillbilly challenges common perceptions and aims to open dialogue between urban and rural America, offering folks within the region a cinematic portrayal of which they can be proud.

“This film does a wonderful job of exploring how the negative connotation of ‘hillbilly’ was built and the ways in which people in the region are tearing it down,” said Tijah Bumgarner, assistant professor of journalism and mass communications at Marshall. “Being a media-maker and teacher here in Appalachia, I feel that this film is an inspiration and necessity in showing the power of naming and the importance of amplifying the multiple voices that make up the region, opposed to the simplistic, often stereotypical stories we hear.”

The screening will be presented by the School of Journalism and Mass Communications and the SOJMC Diversity Committee, with sponsorship from Marshall University Libraries and Marshall University’s Film Studies program, Department of English and First Year Seminar.