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The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania

8/3/2006 —

Monday, July 24, 2006

UNIONTOWN, PA - Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus will host the only public showings in Pennsylvania of the documentary “The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania” on Saturday, August 19, at 12:30, 3:30, and 7:00 p.m. in the Maggie Hardy Magerko Theatre in the campus Community Center.

The film, which was written and directed by David Hunt, and produced by FourBoys Films, owned by Hunt and his wife, Patricia Heaton, is only available through Netflix.

"The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania" documents the odyssey of Hollywood actress Sarah Rush back to her roots as a 16-year-old pageant winner, growing up in Southwestern, PA. "Coal Queens" is filled with colorful local characters, and is a humorous look at small town America.
The town of Carmichaels (population 556) and its vanishing way of life is a far cry from Hollywood. Coal mining has shaped this area of the country, instilling a strength and pride in its citizens. The film captures the spirit of the community during the 50th Anniversary celebrations of the Coal Queen Pageant and the King Coal Festival in August of 2003.
We travel with Sarah back to her hometown and subsequently to the State Theatre in Uniontown, where rehearsals for the pageant are underway. The contestants have won the right to represent each of 14 high schools from the area in the competition, which is comprised of talent, "the impromptu" question and answer session and the evening gown display. Through the lives of the girls and the events surrounding the pageant we learn more about them and the ties that bind the wider community. The film moves between trials of the pageant and the lives of the locals, especially the coal miners, who toil beneath the earth, knowing that the demise of their livelihood is just around the corner.

Writer, director and producer David Hunt was born in Norfolk, in the East of England.  His film credits include: "Bobby Jones, Stroke of Genius" (Rowdy Herrington), "Eyes Wide Shut" (Stanley Kubrick), "Jade" (William Friedkin), "The Dead Pool" (Clint Eastwood), "Trip to Tunis" and "Closing Ranks."

Theatre credits include: "The Memory of Water" at the Manhattan Theatre Club, "Thérèse Raquin" and "Triumph of Love" at the La Jolla Playhouse, "Hamlet" at the Baltimore Center Stage and "Progress" at The Long Wharf.
Television credits include: In the U.S.- Monk (USA), Num3ers (CBS), the TNT mini-series "The Grid", the CBS telepic "Murder on the Orient Express", the Sky/TV Fox UK thriller entitled "Bombmaker", Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS), "Miracle in the Woods" (CBS MOW), "The Dancer's Touch" (ABC MOW) "The Client" (CBS) and "Falcon Crest" (CBS). In England- "Beck" (BBC), "Dream Team" (Fox U.K.), "The Black Velvet Gown" (ITV-Emmy Award winner), "Anna Lee" (Carnival Films/ A&E), and "The Chief" (Anglia). He went on to graduate from the Advanced Program at the Juilliard School.  David was a schoolteacher and coach before he began his studies in New York with Larry Moss.

Hunt said, “Since forming FourBoys Films in 2001 with my wife Patricia Heaton, my desire to direct a film intensified. The opportunity presented itself in the summer of 2003, when an actress friend of ours mentioned to us that she was returning home to her small coal mining town in rural Pennsylvania for the 50th Anniversary celebration of a coal festival and pageant. It sounded fascinating and I was intrigued. My wife suggested that we should produce a documentary and then encouraged me to make it the subject of my first film.”

Hunt remarked that during filming, “I was moved by the sense of community in this tiny place, the people's pride in their coal mining heritage and how they loved their town, warts and all. I admired the way they all rallied around a common cause in the form of their annual celebrations and coal queen pageant and freely gave their time and money in support. Their spirit struck me as quintessentially American and so I chose to celebrate their lives, their traditions, and a special way of life that is fast disappearing.”

 Ticket prices are $5 per adult, $3 per student, and children under 5 admitted free.  Students may include elementary, junior high, senior high, and college students.  Proceeds will benefit the creation of a scholarship fund.

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For more information call Melanie Thomas at 724-430-4199.

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