A caucasian woman with long brown hair, wearing a blue and white shirt and black jacket. Behind her is a rural landscape of trees and grass.

Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Knoxville, TN

Elaine McMillion Sheldon is an Appalachian-based filmmaker who explores challenges in American society and its effects on people. She is the director of Recovery Boys and the Academy Award-nominated, Emmy-winning Heroin(e), which both explore America’s opioid crisis. Her film Tutwiler, an intimate look at motherhood inside one of America’s most notorious women’s prisons, aired on PBS America Reframed. Sheldon’s interactive documentary Hollow brought to life a post-industrial community online and received a Peabody Award and 3rd Prize in the World Press Photo Awards. She was named a 2021 Livingston Award Finalist, 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, 2018 USA Fellow by United States Artists, one of the “25 New Faces of Independent Film” by Filmmaker Magazine, and received the Breakthrough Filmmaker Award from Chicken & Egg Pictures.

King Coal


Elaine McMillion Sheldon is an Appalachian-based filmmaker who explores challenges in American society and its effects on people.

Artist Bio

For the past 200 years, coal has been an inescapable presence in the daily lives of Central Appalachians. King Coal, Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s essayistic documentary, juxtaposes the reality of coal-related identity with a magical realist tale. Interwoven with documentary vignettes featuring the stories of citizens in the coalfields, are descriptions of a lush world that help paint a picture of Appalachia’s purpose amid its ongoing power struggle. A geological exploration of time, King Coal serves as a reminder of why change is painful.


Award Year
2021
Status

In Progress