Six West Virginia–based documentaries to cozy up to.
This film by The Folkway production studio tells the story of West Virginia’s first 100-mile ultramarathon. Follow race director Bryant Baker and professional runners Caleb Bowen and HollyAnn Swann as they undertake the November 2020 inaugural Rim to River 100 endurance race at New River Gorge National Park. Because runners had only 32 hours to complete the 100 miles, this 94-minute documentary is a true tale of perseverance and struggle. Streaming on YouTube and at thefolkway.com/intothewell.
Where Sky Meets Eternity
Based on the Passages project at The River House in Capon Bridge, this film documents the passing of the message of the poem “Almost” by West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman through 12 different West Virginia artists from July of 2020 to June of 2021. Each artist created a new work of art based only on what they had “heard” in the most recent artist’s work and on nothing else, resulting in a collection of art spanning multiple mediums. Watch on YouTube.
Born in a Ballroom
This 70-minute documentary depicts the rich heritage and tender relationship between the Hutte Restaurant; its founder, Eleanor Mailloux; and her hometown, Helvetia, West Virginia. Chronicling the Hutte’s history through the years, this film depicts the community coming together to accurately portray Mailloux’s story through a combination of old interviews, news footage, and stories from her family and friends. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
Outlier: The Story of Katherine Johnson
A West Virginia native, Katherine Johnson was the mathematical brains behind much of NASA’s success with orbital and space flights. This 56-minute film written and produced by MotionMakers follows Johnson’s accomplishments and challenges while highlighting her career as an African American female trailblazer in her field. With her story also told in the movie Hidden Figures, Johnson is a key figure in our state’s history. Watch on Amazon Prime Video.
This 48-minute film tells the stories of Russian Orthodox monks residing at Holy Cross Monastery in Wayne, West Virginia. Following the path of Father Justin, filmmaker Sam Cox gives insight into the monks’ lives and spirituality and the work they do at the farm. Narrated by five unnamed monks who share their religious journeys, this film gives viewers a depiction of monastic life. Watch on Vimeo.
Running an hour and 14 minutes, Moundsville portrays the story of its namesake West Virginia town. The film relies on the voices of residents to detail the town’s unique history and its economic rise, fall, and recovery. The local roots and pride shown in this documentary give insiders and outsiders alike a window into the past and hope for the town’s future. Watch on PBS.