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Film: Harlan County, USA
April 3, 2019 @ 8:00 pm - 10:00 pm
As part of the Bellingham Film Coalition, Whatcom-Skagit IWW presents… Harlan County, USA, a 1976 Oscar-winning documentary film covering the “Brookside Strike” in Harlan County, southeast Kentucky, in 1973.
They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You’ll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair.
–Which Side Are You On? – Florence Reese
In this documentary director Barbara Kopple films a strike in rural Kentucky. After the coal miners at the Brookside Mine join a union, the owners refuse the labor contract. Once the miners strike, the owners of the mine respond by hiring scabs to fill the jobs of the workers, and bring in gun thugs to threaten the miners. The strike, which lasts more than a year, frequently becomes violent, with guns produced on both sides, and one miner is killed. The film shows that women played a pivotal role in the strike. Their collective strength of character is vividly communicated as they organizes for picket duty, harass the local sheriff into serving an arrest warrant that they have procured, and in one of the film’s most memorably tense scenes, face down a group of gun thugs with sticks and baseball bats.
The Director, Barbara Kopple was asked if she was in danger while working on Harlan County, USA. She reveals that the head scab, Basil Collins, wanted to hire someone to shoot her. However the most dangerous things were the acts of violence by the mine owners to the miners. The mine owners would hire “local prisoners to beat people up, [shoot] at houses. The people had to line their walls with mattresses.”
$5 suggested donation
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Bellingham Film Coalition brought to you by:
Whatcom Peace & Justice Center
Film Is Truth