King Coal + Slower Animals
Directed by Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Knoxville Premiere, Paired with John C. Kelley's Slower Animals)
The cultural roots of coal continue to permeate the rituals of daily life in Appalachia even as its economic power wanes. The journey of a coal miner’s daughter exploring the region’s dreams and myths, untangling the pain and beauty.
Breath Artist, Shodekeh Talifero, who performed at Big Ears 2022 also contributed to the score (composed by Bobak Lotfipur) of “King Coal” and will be joining the screening and performing at the Q&A that follows.
Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Curren Sheldon, Oscar-nominated and Knoxville-based filmmakers, premiered their latest film, “King Coal,” at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival where IndieWire critics described the film as “haunted and poetic.” In “King Coal,” director McMillion Sheldon dares to consider what future stories might look like out of the shadow of coal, now that relationships to coal are changing. She takes us on an alluring cinematic journey through the past, present, and future of Appalachia. McMillion Sheldon’s distinct vision remixes present-day moments of life in a coal-mining town with archival footage and atmospheric invocations of the land to alchemize something new — a rare, nuanced depiction of this community. A young girl learning the story of coal anchors the journey while McMillion Sheldon’s poetic voiceover guides us through the experience and an expressive score differentiates the reality of coal from a more imaginative world. The hybrid approach allows McMillion Sheldon to explore the act of storytelling itself and is a magical reclamation of the power of stories to shape how a region sees itself. The end of one story welcomes the beginning of another.
Total Runtime: 85 minutes
Q&A with Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Curren Sheldon and Shodekeh after Thursday, March 30 premiere.
Performance by Shodekeh after Sunday, April 2 Screening
Director- Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Producers- Shane Boris, Diane Becker, Peggy Drexler, Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Executive Producers- Katherine Drexler, Heather A. Baldry
Co-Producers- Curren Sheldon, Molly Born
Director of Photography- Curren Sheldon
Editor- Iva Radivojevic
Co-Editor- Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Composer- Bobak Lotfipour
Breath Artist- Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero
Narrated by- Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Sound Recordist- Billy Wirasnik
Associate Producers- Clara Haizlett, Elijah Stevens
Story, Sound & Images by John C Kelley
Runtime: 7 minutes (screening with King Coal with runtime: 78 minutes)