Rural Appalachia is a part of America that’s vanishing before our eyes. With the loss of the coal industry, the future for the people of eastern Kentucky is uncertain. However, this is what inspires the self-proclaimed “last hillbilly” Brian Ritchie.
French directors and writers, Diane Sara Bouzgarrou and Thomas Jenkoe, join us to discuss their award-winning documentary The Last Hillbilly (2020). The film won the Best International Doc Award at the Torino Film Festival, and received a special mention at IDFA under the First Appearance Category.
The Last Hillbilly follows Brian Ritchie, who is among other things, a poet, philosopher and not what you would expect from your stereotypical hillbilly. A daunting, yet poetic look at a part of America that will never be the same again, this film dives into Brian’s stream of consciousness and explores the gap between his identity and his existence.
“There are no more mines, there are no more jobs, and their identity is kind of stuck in the past. There is no future ahead of them.” – Diane Sara Bouzgarrou
03:30 – How The Last Hillbilly was received, and how the pandemic affected its release.
06:18 – A brief synopsis of the film.
09:41 – How the directors met Brian Richie and built such a strong bond with him.
13:53 – Why they decided to go to Kentucky and make a film there.
16:06 – What the Appalachian region is like.
19:57 – The stereotypes of Appalachian people that are true and those that are not.
27:46 – Why they decided to structure the story in the way they did.
37:36 – What Academy Ratio means and why they chose to film in that format.
41:21 – The effect the soundtrack has, and how the creative process of the soundtrack worked.
48:34 – The issues around accessibility when creating such a creative film.
53:25 – What the future for rural America is.
56:20 – The divide that is present within America.
01:00:40 – The future plans Diane and Thomas both have.
Connect with Diane Sara Bouzgarrou:
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