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"American Hollow"

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Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy followed a dirt-poor family clan in eastern Kentucky for an entire year, and the result is American Hollow (at Film Forum). The Bowlings have lived more than a century between two mountains, and very few of them have ever made it out. Some of them work the land -- what little there is to work -- but most rely on government assistance. Kennedy doesn't attempt to poeticize these people or put them on display. The harrowing aspects of their lives are presented matter-of-factly: the endemic alcoholism, the legacy of wife abuse, the casual outlawry (the nearest police station is two hours away by car). Iree, the family matriarch, who's in her sixties and looks mid-eighties, is proud of her brood. In the midst of much misery, she makes the most beautiful quilts.


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