Press Release

May 29 2024

‘POV’ Opens Its 37th Season With Oscar® and Emmy® Nominee Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s Seminal Film King Coal About Central Appalachia’s Coal Mining Culture on June 24, 2024 Debuts on PBS Television Nationwide and Streaming on and the PBS App


Brooklyn, N.Y. – May 29, 2024 – American Documentary’s multi award-winning series, ‘POV,’ opens its 37th season with the visually stunning observational documentary King Coal, directed by Oscar® and Emmy®-nominated filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Heroin(e)). Filmed in Central Appalachia and through the personal memories of McMillion Sheldon – a 4th generation coal miner’s daughter – the film is a collection of vignettes about the cultural roots of coal and its waning impact over a sector of American life, while making space for a dream of the future to emerge.

Produced by Academy Award®-winners Shane Boris and Diane Becker (Navalny) and Peabody Award-winner Peggy Drexler (My Name is Pauli Murray), King Coal will make its national broadcast premiere on POV Monday, June 24 2024 at 10pmET/9C (check local listings) and will be available to stream until December 3, 2024 on and the PBS App. In addition to standard closed captioning for the film, POV, in partnership with audio description service DiCapta, provides real-time audio interpretations for audiences with sensory disabilities.

POV is America’s longest running non-fiction series.

"One theme of POV's Season 37 slate is how modernity brushes up against traditional cultures," said Chris White, Executive Producer, American Documentary. “King Coal, a singular, lyrical interpretation and excavation of the culture, history and economy of Appalachian coal country strikes the right tone as the season opener. Director Elaine McMillion Sheldon is a daughter of the place. Utilizing a hybrid approach of video and narration to tell the stories of the people and place, gives her agency to share an insider's perspective of a region that is in transition."


A lyrical tapestry of a place and people, King Coal, meditates on the complex history and future of the coal industry, the communities it has shaped, and the myths it has created. A young girl learning the story of coal anchors the journey while McMillion Sheldon reshapes the boundaries of documentary filmmaking with a deeply moving immersion into Central Appalachia where coal is not just a resource, but a way of life, imagining the ways a community can re-envision itself.

While deeply situated in the regions under the reign of “King Coal,” where McMillion Sheldon has lived and worked her entire life, the film transcends time and place, emphasizing the ways in which all are connected through an immersive mosaic of belonging, ritual, and imagination. Emerging from the long shadows of the coal mines, King Coal untangles the pain from the beauty, and illuminates the innately human capacity for change.

"It's such an honor to share a story that is so deeply personal to me with a national audience," said director Elaine McMillion Sheldon. "This film hinges on my own experiences growing up in Appalachia, but also our region's collective memory, with the goal of dreaming a new future together."

King Coal made its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival 2023 - Next, and was a New York Times Critics Pick. Festival wins include: the Special Jury Prize - Documentary Competition at the 2023 Seattle International Film Festival; the Special Jury Prize - Visionary Direction at the 2023 Crested Butte Film Festival; the Cinematography Prize - Documentary Feature Competition at the 2023 RiverRun International Film Festival; the Best Cinematography - Documentary Feature Competition at the 2024 ASC Awards, and the Nigel Moore Award - Youth Programming at DOXA 2023. Other accolades include nominations for Cinematography in the Documentary Feature Competition at the 2023 Cinema Eye and IDA Awards, and the Golden Frog nomination in the Documentary Feature Competition at 2023 Cameraimage, URE COMPETITION.

King Coal is a co-production of Drexler Films, Cottage M, Fishbowl Films, and Requisite Media. Production Support Provided By The Peggy and Millard Drexler Family Foundation. Elaine McMillion Sheldon is the director, producer, writer, and co-editor. Shane Boris, Diane Becker, and Peggy Drexler are the producers. The executive producers are Katherine Drexler, Heather A. Baldry, and Erika Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary | POV. The cinematographer is Curren Sheldon and the editor is Iva Radivojević. Shane Boris, Logan Hill, Iva Radivojević, and Heather Hannah are the contributing writers. Curren Sheldon and Molly Born are the co-producers, and Clara Haizlett and Elijah Stevens are the associate producers. Original music is by Bobak Lotfipour, the choreographer is Celia Rowlson-Hall, and the breath artist is Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero.

King Coal will be available for streaming concurrently with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS Video App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. PBS station members can view many series, documentaries and specials via PBS Passport. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.



Director/Producer/Writer/Co-Editor: Elaine McMillion Sheldon

Producers: Shane Boris, Diane Becker, Peggy Drexler

Executive Producers: Katherine Drexler, Heather A. Baldry, Erika Dilday and Chris White for American Documentary | POV

Participants/Cast: Lanie Marsh, Gabrielle Wilson, Doy Leon Russell, Heather Hannah

Director of Photography: Curren Sheldon

Editor: Iva Radivojević

Co-Producers: Curren Sheldon, Molly Born

Associate Producers: Clara Haizlett, Elijah Stevens

Contributing Writers: Shane Boris, Logan Hill, Iva Radivojević, Heather Hannah

Original Music by Bobak Lotfipour

Choreographer: Celia Rowlson-Hall

Breath Artist: Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero

Country: USA

Year: 2023

About the Filmmakers

Elaine McMillion Sheldon, Director, Producer, Co-Editor, King Coal

Elaine McMillion Sheldon is an Academy Award®-nominated, and Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker. Sheldon is the director of two Netflix Original Documentaries - Heroin(e) and Recovery Boys - that explore America's opioid crisis. She has been named a Creative Capital Awardee, Guggenheim Fellow, a USA Fellow by United States Artists, and one of the "25 New Faces of Independent Film,” by Filmmaker Magazine. McMillion Sheldon was raised in West Virginia and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Shane Boris, Producer, King Coal

Shane Boris is an Academy Award®-winning and two-time Academy Award®-nominated producer. His films have also won BAFTA, duPont-Columbia, PGA, and Peabody awards, played at the Sundance, Telluride and Venice Film Festivals, and screened in museums including MOMA and The Louvre. His latest films, the Academy Award®-nominated Fire of Love and Academy Award®-winning Navalny, have collectively received over 40 major industry awards and nominations. Other films include the Academy Award®-nominatedThe Edge of Democracy, the Emmy® Award-nominated The Last Crusie, the Spirit Award-nominated Stray, the Golden Gate Award-winning The Seer And The Unseen, and the Sundance Award-winning All These Sleepless Nights.

Diane Becker, Producer, King Coal

Diane Becker is an Academy Award®-winning, Emmy® Award-nominated, BAFTA, duPont-Columbia, PGA, and Peabody Award-winning producer and the co-founder of Fishbowl Films. Navalny won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award and the Festival Favorite at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and went on to win the 2023 Academy Award® for Best Documentary Feature Film. Additional credits include Tina, Belushi, and POV films Inventing Tomorrow andOn The Divide. Diane is a recipient of the 2023 Dear Producer Award and won the 2020 Sundance Institute/Amazon Producer’s Award for Whirlybird. She is a member of the Producers Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Peggy Drexler, Producer, King Coal

Peggy Drexler, Ph.D. is a Peabody and dupont-Columbia Award winning executive producer of My Name is Pauli Murray (Amazon). She founded Drexler Films, a division of The Peggy and Millard Drexler Family Foundation, in 2017 to educate viewers about iconic figures and critical social issues. Since the inception of Drexler Films she has produced five award-winning documentaries that have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival with her latest documentary Diane Warren: Relentless (2024) launching at SXSW2024. Among the honors The Fight won The Special Award for Social Impact Filmmaking at Sundance and Ask Dr. Ruth won Best Documentary at the 2019 Hot Docs International Film Festival. Prior to starting Drexler Films Peggy had been an investor in a variety of successful, socially conscious, documentaries including Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018), the highest grossing biographical documentary of all time. Dr Peggy Drexler is a member of the Producers Guild of America.

Curren Sheldon, Director of Photography, Co-Producer, King Coal

Curren Sheldon is an Academy Award® nominated and Emmy®-winning filmmaker. He is the director of photography and producer of the Netflix Original DocumentariesHeroin(e) and Recovery Boys, as well as the co-director of photography for Phoenix Rising (HBO) and Keep This Between Us (Freeform). His work has been commissioned by The New York Times, Patagonia, Oh Boy Records, and The Bitter Southerner. Sheldon was raised in West Virginia and lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Iva Radivojevic, Editor, King Coal

Iva Radivojevic is an artist residing on the island of Lesbos. Her films have screened at the New York Film Festival, New Directors/New Films, Rotterdam IFF, DocLisboa, and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA). She’s the recipient of the Sundance Art of Non-Fiction Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, and Princess Grace Fellowship. When not working on her own films, Iva collaborates through writing and editing.

Molly Born, Co-Producer, King Coal

Molly Born is a journalist and producer based in West Virginia. Molly was associate producer on the U.S. team behind the IDA award-winning Netflix series My Love. As a reporter, she has been twice named a finalist for the Livingston Award and was one of the first Report for America fellows in 2018. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR, The New Yorker, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, GroundTruth, and Southerly, among other outlets.

Celia Rowlson-Hall, Choreographer, King Coal

Celia Rowlson-Hall is a multidisciplinary artist who blends narrative storytelling, modern dance, and film – creating a genre all her own. A Bessies Award-winning performer, Celia began her career as a professional dancer, but quickly transitioned to choreographing for film and television. Her choreography and movement work can be seen in Girls (HBO), Aftersun (A24), After Yang (A24), Pearl In X (A24), Birds of Paradise (Amazon), Vox Lux (Neon), and The Fits (Oscilloscope).

Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero, Breath Artist, King Coal

Dominic “Shodekeh” Talifero is a groundbreaking Beatboxer and Vocal Percussionist who pushes the boundaries of the human voice within and outside the context of Hip Hop music and culture. As the first vocal percussionist to do so, he formally served as a dance technique musician and composer-in-residence for Towson University’s Department of Dance for 12 years.

Katherine Drexler, Executive Producer, King Coal

Katherine Drexler graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Fine Arts. In 2014, she was awarded the W. David Dance 1940 Fine Arts Award for excellence on her printmaking work. Katherine worked in the visual arts for four years before joining Drexler Films in 2021, doing development, ideation, and behind the scenes support on current and upcoming projects.

Heather A. Baldry, Executive Producer, King Coal

Heather A. Baldry grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. She is the founder of Narrow Vision Endeavors, LLC which funds films with a social impact.

Elijah Stevens, Associate Producer, King Coal

Elijah Stevens is a documentary filmmaker and producer. He was the associate producer of the Oscar®-nominated documentary Fire of Love. Other feature documentaries include Hollywoodgate, The Seer and the Unseen, and the Academy Award®-shortlisted documentary short Los Comandos. His work has been supported by The Gotham, DOC NYC, DOK.Forum, DocsBarcelona, and Ji.hlava IDFF, amongst others.

Clara Haizlett, Associate Producer, King Coal

Clara Haizlett is a documentary filmmaker from West Virginia and an associate producer on King Coal. Clara has directed, shot and produced several short documentaries for outlets like the Smithsonian Institution and NPR member stations. She gravitates toward stories that explore folklife, cross-cultural dialogue and the natural world.

Bobak Lotfipour, Composer, King Coal

Bobak Lotfipour is an Iranian/Mexican American composer and performance artist from Denton, Texas, who currently lives in Los Angeles. He is best known for his handmade, experimental, percussive sounds using both traditional and nontraditional instruments and unconventional objects manipulated with effects. He also continues to create solo work that can be described as ambient, meditative, experimental, and haunting.


Download King Coal photos here.


About POV

Produced by American Documentary, POV is the longest-running independent documentary showcase on American television. Since 1988, POV has presented films on PBS that capture the full spectrum of the human experience, with a long commitment to centering women and people of color in front of, and behind, the camera. The series is known for introducing generations of viewers to groundbreaking works like Tongues Untied (1989), Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1992), Rabbit in the Room (1999), Of Civil Wrongs & Rights: The Fred Korematsu Story (2001), Made in L.A. (2007), American Promise (2013), Not Going Quietly (2021), While We Watched (2022), A House Made of Splinters (2022) and the mini-series And She Could be Next (2020). Throughout its history POV has featured the work of award-winning, innovative filmmakers including Jonathan Demme, Laura Poitras, Nanfu Wang, Frederick Wiseman, Emiko Omori, Janus Metz Pedersen and Ava DuVernay. In 2018, POV Shorts launched as one of the first PBS series dedicated to bold and timely short-form documentaries. In 2024, Indiewire named seven POV films in its roundup of “The 50 Best Documentaries of the 21st Century”: Faya Dayi (2021), The Mole Agent (2020), Minding The Gap (2018), Cameraperson (2016), The Look of Silence (2015), The Act of Killing (2013) and After Tiller (2013). All POV programs are available for streaming concurrent with broadcast on all station-branded PBS platforms, including and the PBS App, available on iOS, Android, Roku streaming devices, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, Chromecast and VIZIO. For more information about PBS Passport, visit the PBS Passport FAQ website.

POV goes “beyond the broadcast” to bring powerful nonfiction storytelling to viewers wherever they are. Free educational resources accompany every film and a community network of thousands of partners nationwide work with POV to spark dialogue around today’s most pressing issues. POV continues to explore the future of documentary through innovative productions with partners such as The New York Times and The National Film Board of Canada and on platforms including Snapchat and Instagram.

POV films and projects have won 47 Emmy Awards, 28 George Foster Peabody Awards, 15 Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, three Academy Awards® and the first-ever George Polk Documentary Film Award. Learn more at and follow @povdocs on social media.

About American Documentary, Inc.

American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia organization dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.

American Documentary, Inc. (AmDoc) is a multimedia organization dedicated to creating, identifying and presenting contemporary stories that express opinions and perspectives rarely featured in mainstream media outlets. AmDoc is a catalyst for public culture, developing collaborative strategic engagement activities around socially relevant content on television, online and in community settings. These activities are designed to trigger action, from dialogue and feedback to educational opportunities and community participation.

Major funding for POV is provided by PBS, the Open Society Foundations, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, Reva & David Logan Foundation, Park Foundation, and Perspective Fund. Additional funding comes from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, Chris and Nancy Plaut, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, Acton Family Giving, and public television viewers. POV is presented by a consortium of public television stations, including KQED San Francisco, WGBH Boston and THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG.

About PBS

PBS, with more than 330 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and digital content. Each month, PBS reaches over 120 million people through television and 26 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’s broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. Decades of research confirm that PBS’s premier children’s media service, PBS KIDS, helps children build critical literacy, math and social-emotional skills, enabling them to find success in school and life. Delivered through member stations, PBS KIDS offers high-quality educational content on TV – including a 24/7 channel, online at, via an array of mobile apps and in communities across America. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile and connected devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Communications on Twitter.