American Hollow

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Rory Kennedy

Rory Kennedy

Supervising Producer
Jacqueline Glover

Director of Photography
Nick Doob

Adam Zucker

Original Music
Bill Frisell

Executive Producer
Sheila Nevins, for HBO

An in-depth look at a distinctly American family, American Hollow tells the story of the Bowlings, a clan of over sixty family members living in a one-mile hollow tucked into one of the cloistered valleys of Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. A microcosm largely untouched by the world developing rapidly around them, the Bowlings, proud homeowners with a deep regard for family, struggle to maintain their land.

A combination of decreased welfare spending and scarce job opportunities jeopardizes the Bowlings’ future. While many Appalachians are gradually lured down from the hills to work at the malls and fast-food restaurants of a rapidly encroaching society, this family collects blood rot and ginseng for additional income to supplement the government checks upon which they largely subsist. Their determination makes for a compelling story of what is lost and what is gained in the struggle to maintain centuries-old traditions.

American Hollow premiered on HBO in November 1999 and ppened theatrically at New York’s Film Forum in May 1999.


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Purchase the companion book, with photos by Steve Lehman.

Winner of the Best Documentary Prize at the American Film Institute, Newport and Northampton Film Festival, the 1999 Chicago International Film Festival’s Gold Hugo Award.

Nominations include the Independent Spirit Award, the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, and an Emmy Award, for Outstanding Non-Fiction Special.