By Indiewire | Indiewire December 17, 2013 at 4:48PM
Barbara Kopple's groundbreaking documentary "Harlan County, USA" which chronicles a historic Kentucky coal miner strike, will receive the fifth annual Legacy Award from Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking.
Kopple will accept the award on behalf of the film at the 7th annual Cinema Eye Honors ceremony on January 8, 2014, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York. The Legacy Award is intended to honor classic films that inspire a new generation of filmmakers and embody the Cinema Eye mission: excellence in creative and artistic achievements in nonfiction films, according to Cinema Eye.
"Barbara has long been leading the way for all of us, not only in the quality, generosity and wisdom of her work but as a path breaking woman in what used to be largely a man's field," Cinema Eye Board Chair Andrea Meditch said in a statement.
Kopple presented the first Legacy award to Ross McElwee for his documentary "Sherman's March" in 2010. "Grey Gardens," "Titicut Follies" and "The War Room" are the other previous Legacy award winners.
In his original review of "Harlan County, USA" from 1977, Roger Ebert wrote that the film "not just a document of a strike, but an affecting, unforgettable portrait of a community...The movie is a great American document, but it’s also entertaining. Kopple structures her material to provide tension, brief but vivid characterizations and dramatic confrontations (including one incredibly charged moment when the sheriff attempts to lead a caravan of scabs past the picket line). There are many gunshots in the film, and a death, and also many moments of simple warmth and laughter. The many union songs on the sound track provide a historical context, and also help Kopple achieve a fluid editing rhythm. And most of all there are the people in the film, those amazing people, so proud and self-reliant and brave."
"Harlan County, USA" won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and in 1991, the film was named to the National Film Registry by the Librarian of Congress and designated an American Film Classic. The Criterion Collection released a DVD of Harlan County USA in 2006.
The Hot Docs Film Festival will host a Cinema Eye Legacy Award screening of "Harlan County, USA" in Toronto during the 2014 edition of the festival, featuring a conversation with Barbara Kopple.