Film festival to pay anniversary tribute to ‘Harlan County USA’

The Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival welcomes two-time Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Barbara Kopple to Middlebury as its Featured Guest for the 2016 Festival that kicks off Aug. 25 and runs through the 28th.
Kopple will screen three of her highly acclaimed documentaries, including a special 40th Anniversary Tribute screening of her groundbreaking film, “Harlan County, USA.”  The screening will take place Saturday, Aug. 27 at 1:30 p.m. at Town Hall Theater.  Released in 1976 as Kopple’s first feature film, “Harlan County USA” chronicled the bitter 1974 strike of Kentucky coal mine workers that began when the Eastover Mining Company refused to sign a standard union contract.  “Harlan County, USA” won the Academy Award for Best Documentary and, in 1991, the Library of Congress named it to the National Film Registry.  The film was also named one of the top five documentaries of all time by the International Documentary Association in 2007. 
Immediately following the screening of “Harlan County, USA,” MNFF will present a live performance on stage by David Morris, the last surviving musician to have played on the film’s acclaimed soundtrack.  Along with his son, Jack, Morris will offer a set of songs about coal miners. 
In recognition of her outstanding achievements in filmmaking, MNFF will award Kopple its VTeddy Award for Sustained Cinematic Vision and Imagination.  She will also be part of a featured panel discussion by distinguished filmmakers on “Currents in Documentary Filmmaking,” to take place at 4 p.m., Saturday afternoon at the Middlebury Inn’s courtyard. 
Kopple will also present two additional films at the Festival: “Hot Type: 150 Years of The Nation”, screening at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28 at Dana Auditorium and “Miss Sharon Jones!” which MNFF has selected as its Closing Night film on Sunday, Aug. 28 at 7:20 p.m. at Town Hall Theater. John Nichols, national affairs correspondent for The Nation magazine, will also appear at the “Hot Type” screening. 
“We are so incredibly fortunate to be able to bring Barbara to the Festival,” said Lloyd Komesar, MNFF’s producer. “She truly is one of America’s greatest documentary filmmakers. 
“Barbara Kopple has changed the face of documentary filmmaking,” said MNFF artistic director Jay Craven. “She has directed 35 films, including five within the last three years. She remains a filmmaker of exceptional talent and insight, still working at peak output. It will be a treat to welcome her and hear her thoughts a but today’s state-of-the-art.”

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