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‘Hillbilly’ Documentary Examines Appalachian Stereotypes

The Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts will present a free online screening of the documentary “Hillbilly” on Friday, Oct. 23, at 6:30 p.m. Filmmakers and co-directors Ashley York and Sally Rubin will introduce the film and participate in a live Q&A after the screening.


The film shows the evolution of the uneducated “hillbilly” stereotype in media and culture, linking it with corporate exploitation of Appalachia’s natural resources. York and Rubin said they made the film to “offer the world a rich and varied point of view of this historically misunderstood region.”

Among other subject areas, the film examines the experience of rural voters and seeks to expand the understanding of the region by featuring the diverse communities in Appalachia, including Appalshop’s Appalachian Media Institute, in which young adults find community and refuge, and The Affrilachian Poets, a group of poets of color living in the Appalachian region.

“‘Hillbilly’ is just a really smart and compassionate film,” said Charles Dye, an assistant professor of cinema production at Virginia Tech. “I think anyone who lives in this region would really enjoy seeing it. It provides a tremendous amount of context in a very engaging way.”

Joining York and Rubin for the Q&A after the film will be Emily Satterwhite, an associate professor and the director of Appalachian Studies in the Department of Religion and Culture at Virginia Tech. Satterwhite is one of the regional experts interviewed in the film.

York is a Kentucky-born mediamaker and film producer who is interested in documentaries, socially conscious media, and emerging modes of storytelling. She teaches at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.

Rubin is a documentary filmmaker and editor who has worked in the field for more than 15 years. She is an associate professor of documentary film at Chapman University.

Visit the registration page for more information and to register for the free showing and discussion.

This event was made possible with support from the School of Performing Arts, the Department of Religion and Culture, and the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities.

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