Barbara Kopple

Barbara Kopple – American Dream (1991)

Depicting the effects of a mid-1980s strike by the employees of a Hormel meat-packing plant in Austin, Minnesota, Barbara Kopple’s Academy Award-winning documentary American Dream observes both the daily struggles of the striking workers and the behind-the-scenes conflicts amongst the union leaders. Upset at a proposed pay cut, the local union chapter begins the strike against the advice of their parent organization, hiring an outside consultant who encourages the workers. This consultant’s aggressive, no-compromise approach turns the conflict into national news but also alienates management. Read More »

Barbara Kopple – Desert One (2019)

Observational documentarian Barbara Kopple has a long history of making herself seem invisible, but the vérité intimacy and anti-establishment zeal of Oscar-winning classics like “Harlan County, USA,” and “American Dream” suggest that her signature work couldn’t have been made by anyone else; Kopple isn’t absent from these films so much as she’s sublimated into the air they breathe. “Desert One” is different — you couldn’t find Kopple’s fingerprints on this comprehensive but incurious account of the Iran hostage crisis if you watched the movie through a magnifying glass. Read More »

Barbara Kopple – Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)

This film documents the coal miners’ strike against the Brookside Mine of the Eastover Mining Company in Harlan County, Kentucky in June, 1973. Eastovers refusal to sign a contract (when the miners joined with the United Mine Workers of America) led to the strike, which lasted more than a year and included violent battles between gun-toting company thugs/scabs and the picketing miners and their supportive women-folk. Read More »