I am admittedly a documentary freak, and enjoy watching films on just about any topic, but the odder they are, the more interesting I tend to find them. So, when this flick came up on my radar I knew I had to check it out. Hillbilly is a film that documents the media representation of the people of Appalachia, a region in the Eastern United States that has long been associated with poverty and the coal industry. Co-directed by Sally Rubin and Ashley York, this story unfolds through the lens of two women who grew up in the Appalachian region and have first-hand experience.
After a decade of being away, York returns to her hometown to shed light on, and shatter, the myths that Appalachians are “redneck hillbillies”. Through interviews with her family and friends, as well as numerous icons of Appalachian culture, Rubin really drives home the point that despite what the stereotype may be, and despite being virtually ignored by the world at large, the people of Appalachia are just like the rest of us. Sure, we come from different backgrounds and speak quite differently, but, in the end, Appalachia is still part of America, and, in mostly all circumstances, the stereotype is not at all warranted. What you will find in these mountain towns are hardworking, mostly blue-collar Americans who take offence to the derogatory term “hillbilly”.
Here’s the captivating teaser trailer for the documentary.
A predominant theme that runs through the film is the 2016 Presidential Election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The majority of the Appalachian people voted for Trump and lean toward the right in their political thinking. The thing I enjoyed most about the film, is that while the director is not a Trump supporter or a Republican, she presents the interviewees in a positive light, driving home the fact that, in the end, we have more similarities than differences.
Hillbilly is well-filmed and enjoyable to watch, and, as someone who has fallen into stereotyping in the past, I was able to come away with broader opinions after experiencing the film.
Director: Sally Rubin, Ashley York
Starring: Ronny Cox, Billy Redden, Michael Apted
Distributor: Holler Home Productions
Release Date: May 19, 2018
Run Time: 87 minutes