CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — West Virginia native Elaine McMillion Sheldon – known for directing documentaries like “Heroin(e)” and “Recovery Boys” – has a new film premiering at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
Sheldon says her new film “King Coal” is a “part-documentary, part-fable” film that details the role that coal plays in the lives of people in Appalachia.
Sheldon and Molly Born, co-producer for “King Coal”, are both from West Virginia. Sheldon was born in Virginia but grew up in Pinch and Logan, West Virginia. Born is from Fairmont, West Virginia.
Both say portraying Appalachia in an unbiased manner is an important aspect of their work. Sheldon says she comes from four generations of coal miners and to tell the stories of brotherhood and perseverance of Appalachian residents is important to her.
“I think that for Molly and I, it was important to us that this film didn’t just replace negative depictions of Appalachia with positive ones, but actually sort of muddle up the idea a little bit of Appalachia,” Sheldon says.
“Every member of our team who is from this place talked a lot about wanting to be able to make work here and to show the people that we can make work here. That there are stories to be told and that we should be telling our own stories, that we can, that there is talent here,” Born says.
The world premiere for “King Coal” is on Jan. 23, 2023, in the NEXT Section of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. There is an online screening for the film starting on Jan. 24. You can find a link to buy tickets here.
Sheldon was nominated for an Academy Award and a Peabody Award and won an Emmy for “Heroin(e)” in 2018. “Hollow” was nominated for a Peabody and an Emmy and “Tutwiler” was nominated for an Emmy.