Barbara Kopple

Barbara Kopple

Active - 1972 - 2019  |   Born - Jul 30, 1946   |   Genres - Music, Historical Film, Crime

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Biography by AllMovie

Documentarian Barbara Kopple is best known for Harlan County, USA (1986), her Academy Award-winning chronicle of a Kentucky miner's strike. A native of New York City, she made her first films while studying clinical psychology at a West Virginia college, and also gained experience working in various capacities with cinema verité documentarians the Maysles Brothers. When she was 26, Kopple moved to Harlan County to film a union conflict at the Brookside mine. She ended up staying for four years, observing the miners' struggles to join the United Mine Workers in the face of frequently violent resistance launched against them by the Eastover Mining Company. During that time, Kopple came to know the affected mining families intimately and became committed to helping them. The result of her involvement in the community was Harlan County, USA. Presented from the miners' viewpoint, the documentary places particular emphasis upon the miners' wives, who became major political forces in the fight. Following the acclaim surrounding Harlan County, Kopple has continued to make documentaries, including 1991's Academy Award-winning American Dream, which recounted the mid-'80s strike of group of Hormel meat packers, and 1997's Wild Man Blues, an account of filmmaker and musician Woody Allen's European jazz tour. Kopple has also directed fictional works: in 1983, her first fictional feature, Keeping On (1983), an examination of the attempts for Southern textile workers to organize, was shown on PBS.

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