Hillbilly

Filmmakers: Sally Rubin, Ashley York

Runtime: 85 min

Appalachia is no stranger to the complexity of media representation. Since our country’s inception, there has been a palpable divide between Urban and Rural America. North fights South, Democrats rail against Republicans, “cosmopolitan” looks down on “country.” Within this great divide, certain regions are viewed as “other,” and blamed for America’s social ills. Since the presidential election, the cultural divide in America has expanded even further. Stereotyping and slurs are rampant, finger-pointing and name-calling abound. hillbilly goes on a personal and political journey into the heart of the Appalachian coalfields, exploring the role of media representation in the creation of the iconic American “hillbilly,” and examining the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of this infamous stereotype. hillbilly uncovers an unexpected set of artists, poets, and activists, queer musicians, “Affrilachian” poets, and intersectional feminists—all unexpected voices emerging from this historically misunderstood region. hillbilly is a timely and urgent exploration of how we see and think about Appalachian and rural identity in contemporary America, offering a call for dialogue between urban and rural communities during this divisive time in our nation’s history.

About the Filmmakers

Sally Rubin is a documentary filmmaker, editor, and professor who has worked in the field for over twenty years. She recently completed a documentary about stereotypes of Appalachia and their impact on our last presidential election, entitled hillbilly. The film is in distribution through the Orchard (Cartel Land, Life Animated) funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, recently won the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the Los Angeles Film Festival and has been praised by Michael Moore and Dolly Parton.

Ashley York is a content creator who is interested in documentaries, cinematic journalism, and media for social change and justice. She has worked on Academy Award® winning teams and as a producer on projects that have premiered at the Sundance, Berlin, and SXSW film festivals as well as on Netflix, HBO, National Geographic, Oprah Winfrey’s Network, A&E, IFC, Discovery, and the Sundance Channel.