David Turnley, USA, 2012, color, 97 min
An epic feature documentary about a coal mining town with a proud immigrant heritage, once pivotal in fueling America's industrial revolution and today in decline and struggling to survive and retain its identity, soul and values - all of which were dramatically challenged when four of the town's white, star football players were charged in the beating death of an undocumented Mexican immigrant named Luis Ramirez.
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer David Turnley's most personal work, SHENANDOAH creates a deeply felt portrait of a working class community, and the American Dream on trial.
“Shenandoah” is the heartfelt story of a working-class community wrestling with its conscience, following an incident in which four of the town's star high school football players got into a fight and beat to death Luis Ramirez, an undocumented Mexican immigrant.
In this town, where football had become everything, the local police covered up the incident until a Mexican-American civil rights lawyer saw the story on the Web and traveled to Pennsylvania to call a press conference, at which time charges were finally brought.
It was just prior to this tragedy - in the spring of 2008 that then-Presidential-candidate Barack Obama made the statement that, 'in times of crisis, the working class in Pennsylvania cling to their guns and religion’. Filmmaker David Turnley set out later that summer to scout a project in a coal-mining town and learned of the incident that had just happened in July in Shenandoah. He would end up spending over two years there documenting the lives of the people who came together in one terrible moment that would change their fates forever.
A David Turnley film, in Association with Epic Match Media, Louverture Films, Netflix
Seagull Films, Producers representative / Festival placement
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