Petriated by the feeling of disappearance and death, The Last Hillbilly is far from the usual clichés about the “rednecks” of deep America. Brian Ritchie, who inspired Thomas Jenkoe and Diane-Sara Bouzgarrou’s documentary, exposes and thinks about his world with disturbing lucidity and melancholy. On the screens Wednesday June 9.
Born in the Appalachian Mountains in eastern Kentucky, Brian Ritchie describes his family life, a tribe in a world in decline following the closure of coal mines. Paradoxically, this descendant of the genocidaires Amerindians of the XIXth century, suffers the same fate, no longer by colonization but victim of the economic empire. The animist background of the Amerindians is replaced here by social concerns, but the relationship to nature and the maintenance of traditions are common to them. Which would make the Hillbillies the last “savages” in America.
If he doesn’t live in a tipi, Brian Ritchie lives on a ranch, which he tirelessly improves with local raw materials, as his ancestors did. The materials have adapted (prefabricated, recycled, and especially local wood), but the approach remains the same. Just like the need for hunting, an ancestral source of food, the “native” justifies its sustainability by “tradition“. Interest that is well worth”obsession with screens“today, according to him.
The religion with which the recluses of deep America are often identified, has no place here, religious memories are swept away. “Ignorant, racist, consanguineous, violent, Trump voters … it’s true“Assumes Brian Ritchie. The film does not take sides but expresses his opinion lived inside. The contemplative landscapes are frozen since the time of Western explorers. The intact environment refers to respect for traditions, a conservative value if ever there is one. in the Hillbillies It is his decadence and his disappearance in the eyes of Brian Ritchie that the film reports.
The children who occupy the last third of the film still bode well for the Hillbillies, and for the narrator “all that, laptops, tablets, Korean bands… will end.“His world will undoubtedly disappear before them. The theme of death haunts the whole film, always with a cruel beauty. Ironically of history and of fate, this heir to the genocidal Indian settlers,The Last Hillbilly (The Last of the Hillbillies), is a “last of the Mohicans”.
Kind : Documentary
Directors : Thomas Jenkoe and Diane-Sara Bouzgarrou
Actor : Brian ritchie
Country : France / Qatar
Duration : 1h20
Exit : June 9, 2021
Distributor : New story
Synopsis : In the Appalachian Mountains, eastern Kentucky, people feel less American than Appalachians. These inhabitants of rural white America have experienced the economic decline of their region. In the United States, they are called “hillbillies”: bouseux, hillbillies. The Last Hillbilly is the portrait of a family through the words of one of them, a surprising witness to a world in the process of disappearing and of which he is the poet.