Hillbilly, a new documentary film that explores the historical basis of cultural stereotypes about people from Appalachia, is set to make its worldwide debut during the Nashville Film Festival on May 19th.
Appalachia is no stranger to the complexity of media representation. hillbilly takes the viewer on a personal and political journey into the heart of Appalachia, exploring the role of media and culture in the creation of the iconic American “hillbilly,” and examining the social, cultural, and political underpinnings of this infamous stereotype.
Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities and filmed in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, and California, hillbilly uncovers an unexpected community of artists, poets, activists, queer musicians, “Affrilachian” poets, and intersectional feminists – all unexpected voices emerging from this historically misunderstood region.
The producers describe hillbilly as a timely and urgent exploration of how we see and think about poverty, southern, and rural identity in contemporary America, offering a call for dialogue between the historically divided populations of Urban and Rural, North and South.
Native Appalachian and Country music superstar Dolly Parton had this to say about the film’s release:
I’m happy to see somebody trying to cover us as we really are and not what some people think we are. It’s wonderful the attention you’ve paid to so many areas that are so important to all of us. I’m proud to have been mentioned in the film a time or two.
The film’s two directors Ashley York and Sally Rubin, both with Appalachian roots, made this film in order to offer the world a rich and varied point of view of this historically misunderstood region. On the film’s release, the two had this to say:
We are so gratified to be finally releasing hillbilly, which represents the result of four and a half years of research, fundraising, production, and editing – and several decades of thinking about the issues in the film. Stereotypes about the South and the mountains are hurtful and divisive. We hope our film can ignite change around this issue.
Watch the teaser trailer: