May 10, 7pm, VIFF Centre | May 11, 10am, Djavad Mowafaghian Cinema
Sharing a name with the Upton Sinclair novel about coal miners, King Coal looks at how Central Appalachia has been shaped by its relationship to the seams.
Director and coal-miner’s daughter Elaine McMillion Sheldon examines how the industry’s influence is king; and how, as coal’s importance diminishes, the king lives on as only a ghost. Sheldon’s lyrical narration explores past, present, and future, meandering through vignettes of a young girl learning what coal means to her community.
At one point, Sheldon notes this place doesn’t just extract coal; it also ships out people, and dreams. Some of the rougher realities of pollution or corporate resource extraction are elided. Viewers ponder, instead, the tensions between pride, loyalty, and reality—and what could happen when the ghost of resource extraction is put to rest.
Find the Straight's full DOXA 2023 guide here.