“King Coal” to premiere at Culture Center in Charleston July 8

“King Coal” to premiere at Culture Center in Charleston July 8
The film will show at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston, W.Va., on July 8 at 6 p.m.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — “King Coal,” a feature-length documentary by West Virginia-raised and Academy Award-nominated filmmakers Curren Sheldon and Elaine McMillion Sheldon, makes its home-state premiere at the West Virginia Culture Center in Charleston, West Virginia, on July 8 at 6 p.m.


The presents the event and will feature the 75-minute film screening, a live Q&A discussion with filmmakers, food, and music. The film is rated "Y" and is appropriate for families and children.

A lyrical tapestry of a place and people, “King Coal” meditates on the complex history and future of the coal industry and the communities it has shaped. The film remixes present-day moments of life in the coalfields with archival footage and atmospheric invocations of the land to alchemize something new — a rare, nuanced depiction of the community.

Local teens — Lanie Marsh, of Hurricane, West Virginia, and Gabby Wilson, of Charleston, West Virginia — are featured in the film. Marsh and Wilson, both dancers, learn the story of coal while McMillion Sheldon’s poetic voiceover guides us through the experience, and an expressive score differentiates the reality of coal from a more imaginative world. The hybrid approach allows McMillion Sheldon to explore the act of storytelling itself and is a magical reclamation of the power of stories to shape how a region sees itself.


“King Coal” premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival and has since played at film festivals in the United States and Canada and won three jury awards. The film also was named one of Esquire's Most Anticipated Docs of 2023. The film was produced from 2019 to 2022 and filmed on-location across West Virginia and central Appalachia.

Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon said she was excited to return to West Virginia.

“We are so excited to bring this film home to the place and the people that made it possible,” Sheldon said. “It’s a night to celebrate and to discuss what we want for Appalachia’s future generations.”

Several West Virginia artists designed original poster designs for the film, which will be available for sale on July 8. Short Story Brewing will provide local brews. Echo-Lit will provide printing. If you’re a local musician, we invite you to bring your instrument and join us for a jam after the screening.


Filmmakers in attendance for the Q&A include director Elaine McMillion Sheldon; director of photography Curren Sheldon; co-producer Molly Born; associate producer Clara Haizlett; producer Diane Becker; and impact producer Mia Bruno. Additionally, many people who appear in the film, including Wilson and Marsh, will be there.

Delford Chaffin, president of the film festival, underscored the film as a landmark production that introduces West Virginia to the world.

“It is an absolute honor to bring this film to Charleston,” Chaffin said. “Our goal is to bring the world to West Virginia, and West Virginia to the world, and shining a spotlight on our local filmmakers is a huge part of that. We are excited for West Virginians to get a chance to see ‘King Coal’ and engage in a discussion with the team afterward.”

The film was made possible with the generous support of the West Virginia Humanities Council, The Peggy and Millard Drexler Family Foundation, the West Virginia International Film Festival, Sundance Institute Documentary Film Program, Field of Vision, Creative Capital, Catapult Film Fund, The Tribeca Film Institute, The Guggenheim Foundation, The University of Tennessee School of Art, The Gotham Film & Media Institute, and Documentary Educational Resources.


Tickets can be purchased at . Learn more about the film at

King Coal was filmed on location in 2019-2022

Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine - Beckley
Belle, West Virginia
Benedict Haid Farm - Clendenin
Blackwater Falls State Park - Davis
Blanton Forest - Wallins Creek, Ky.
Blenko Glass - Milton
Burnsville, North Carolina
Brick's Cuts - Logan
Canaan Valley Resort - Davis
Cass Scenic Railroad State Park - Cass
Carnegie Museum of Natural History - Pittsburgh, Pa.
Charleston, West Virginia
Chief Logan State Lodge - Logan
Coal Country Mini Golf - Fairmont
Coalfield Jamboree - Logan
Coal River - Boone County
Cranberry Wilderness - Hillsboro
Davis & Elkins College - Elkins
Deep Mountain Farm - Fayetteville
No. 9 Mine Disaster Memorial - Farmington
Hot Cup - Logan
Gaudineer Knob - Huttonsville
GoMart Ballpark - Charleston
Grafton & Upton Railroad - Grafton
Great Smoky Mountains National Park - Cherokee, N.C.
Gump’s IGA - Grafton
Helvetia, West Virginia
Highland Elementary - Paintsville, Ky.
Ironworx Body Arts - Bluewell
Ijams Nature Center - Knoxville, Tenn.
Kanawha River - Belle
King Coal Show - Carmichaels, Pa.
King Coal Highway - Delbarton
Lost Creek Farm - Lost Creek
Madison, West Virginia
Mia Margherita - Bridgeport
Monongahela National Forest
Monongah Mine Disaster Memorial - Monongah
Nativibes - Mannington
Nettie, West Virginia
New River Gorge National Park - Fayetteville
Nu-Era Bakery - Logan
Palatine Park - Fairmont
Peadittle Ridge Farm - Moatsville
Pine Mountain - Eastern Kentucky
Port Amherst - Charleston
Portal 31 - Lynch, Ky.
Resurrection Church Capitol Theater - Charleston
Richwood, West Virginia
Riffle Farms - Terra Alta
Rising Appalachia Warriors Camp - Millfield, Oh.
Thomas, West Virginia
Thurmond, West Virginia
Williamson, West Virginia
Williamson PK-8 School - Williamson
Welch, West Virginia
West Virginia University - Morgantown

King Coal Film Credits

Written and Directed by
Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Produced by
Shane Boris, Diane Becker, Peggy Drexler, Elaine McMillion Sheldon


Executive Produced by
Katherine Drexler, Heather A. Baldry

Iva Radivojević

Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Director of Photography
Curren Sheldon


Co-Produced by
Curren Sheldon & Molly Born

Contributing Writers
Shane Boris, Logan Hill, Iva Radivojević, Heather Hannah

Original Score by
Bobak Lotfipour

Associate Producers
Clara Haizlett & Elijah Stevens


Location Sound Mixer
Billy Wirasni

Breath Artist
Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero

Celia Rowlson-Hall

Archival Research
Richard Fauss
Molly Born



Lanie Marsh
Gabby Wilson
Doy Leon Russell
Heather Hannah
Fred Powers
Mike Rohaly
Christina Barnett
Elizabeth Dulla
Echo Wren Shaffer
Rory Black
Craig Baily
Kaitlyn Adams
Delaney Lohr
Giavanna Gulino
Bobby Lee
Darren Blankenship
Ryan Rowe
Angel Rowe
Delores W. Cook
William Chapman
Lacey Brewer
Lucas Browning
Cecil Roberts
UMWA Members
Pamela Wilson
Victoria Wilson
Jonathan Wilson
Christine Weirick
Juniper Jackson
Ruby Jackson
Miriam Strickland
Ben Kolb
Paige Lowe
Morgan Rigsby
Christa Miriashtiani
Sophia Lacocque
Lucy Lacocque
Jesse Milnes
Emily Miller
Dina Hornbaker
Charlie Aller
Jenni Snead
Kyle Rooke
Topher Barbour
Anne C. Smith
Chrissy Beecher
Sarah Anderson
Susan Moore
Kevin Moore
Becky Hill
Leah Kwasniewski
Mike Kwasniewski
Stosh Kwasniewski
Mira Watkins Brown
Doris"Lady D" Fields
Terri Strand's Fourth Grade Class, White Hall Elementary School
Mingo Central High School Miners Football Team (2019 & 2021)

Additional Participants

Andy Arbogast
Dr. Mike Brumage
Nina Brumage
John W. Campbell
Tijah Bumgarner
Dan & Navin Carlisle
Kelli Caseman
Alex Cole
Jeremy Cooper
Caroline Copenhaver
Rev. Brad Davis
V. Cheyenne DeBolt
Collin Waybright
Isaac “Shelem” Fatiga
Kathy Ferguson
Naomi Frazier
Stuart Frazier
Dr. Mary Gainer
Crystal Good
Jacob Israel Hannah
Kelsey Hannah
Ginny Hawker
Emily Hilliard
Dina Hornbaker
Stephanie Hyre
Benny, Jack, John Inghram
Stacy Kranitz
Katey Lauer
Flip & Jennifer Marsh
Carling McManus
Catherine Moore
Kirstyn Ooten
Elizabeth Opyoke
Joseph Opyoke
Kerri Powers
Sharon PowersAlasha al-Qudwah
Jan Rader
Betty Rivard
Carmen Mitzi Sinnott
Dr. Stephanie Skolik
Wilma Steele
Josh Stevens
Jen Susman
Eric Thompson
Jordan Walker
Kenzie New Walker
Tiffany Waybright
Fiona Cormac
Rohan Wentzel
Dr. Peter Wentzel
Rusty Williams
Don & Victoria Wilson
Jonathan Wilson
Pamela Wilson

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