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Linefork (2017)

An immersive meditation on the passage of time and the persistent resonance of place, Linefork follows the daily rituals of an elderly couple living in Kentucky's Appalachian Mountains. Now well into his eighties, Lee Sexton is the last living link to the distant past of a regional American music. A retired coal miner with black lung, Lee and his wife, Opal, continue to farm the land where he was born. Together they face encroaching health concerns and stark economic realities. Recorded over three years, Linefork is an observational film documenting their marriage, their community, their resilience, and the raw yet delicate music of an unheralded banjo legend, linked to the past yet immediately present.
Far down a holler along Linefork Creek, deep in Kentucky coal country, tucked away at the end of Dead End Road, live Lee & Opal Sexton. Well into their eighties, the Sextons humbly while away their days farming their little plot of land and getting by on Lee’s small coal miner pension. But in spite of their unassuming ways, Lee Sexton is actually a living legend of Appalachian music. The last of dying breed, Lee is a master banjo player with a unique style deserving of a place among the canon of musicians from the region such as Roscoe Holcomb, Marion Summner, and Bill Monroe to name a few. Though now hampered by hearing loss and hand injuries sustained in the mines, Lee somehow continues to perform regularly at square dances and to even teach his distinctive style to a new generation eager to preserve a vanishing cultural tradition. Linefork observes, without commentary, the slow, daily ebb and flow of life at the end of Dead End Road. Capturing the visual and sonic echoes that mark the mysterious Appalachian landscape with barking dogs, crowing roosters and banjos in an effort to transmit a profound experience of what it’s like to be there.

“This slow, meditative film presents us with such transcendent, time-stopping moments in the sludgy flow of everyday events: moments of musical transport, moments of marital love. Those little daily miracles are the film’s true subject, and they’re worth waiting for. Lee and Opal Sexton hardly seem to notice them—who does while they’re happening?—but they come at us with the force of revelation.”

— From "Life Stand Still Here" by David Gates, author of Jernigan and A Hand Reached Down to Guide Me

  • Jeff Silva
    Ivan and Ivana
  • Vic Rawlings
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 36 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    March 1, 2017
  • Production Budget:
    15,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Visions du Reel
    April 15, 2016
    European Premiere
    Buenos Aires
    April 21, 2016
  • Open City Documentary Festival London
    United Kingdom
    September 7, 2017
    UK Premiere
Distribution Information
  • Cinema Guild
    Country: United States
    Rights: All Rights
Director Biography - Jeff Silva, Vic Rawlings

Jeff Silva is an american filmmaker, teacher and film programmer based between Boston & France. Jeff’s work explores the quotidian aspects of his subjects lives, often over long spans of time. His most recently completed personal projects include Linefork (2016), Ivan & Ivana (2011), and Balkan Rhapsodies: 78 Measures of War (2008) have been exhibited at festivals, and museums internationally, including: MoMA's Documentary Fortnight, The Viennale, Visions du Reel, Valdivia, and Flahertiana. A long-time affiliate of the Sensory Ethnography Lab at Harvard University, Jeff helped develop the curriculum and methodology of the program while a teaching fellow aside founder and director Lucien Taylor. Jeff has also been programming documentary and experimental cinema for the past 15 years at BALAGAN, an the offbeat and alternative screening series which he co-founded in 2000 in Boston.

Vic Rawlings bought his first motion picture camera in 2012 to begin work on Linefork as Co-Director/Cinematographer/Editor with Jeff Silva; he was soon taught by Ernst Karel to record sound. He considers himself a lucky man. This project marks his entree to filmmaking. He is a musician and freelance teacher who tours internationally. As a multi-instrumentalist (banjo/guitar/mandolin/etc.), he has contributed music to film, theater, and television soundtracks. Rawlings is also active as an electro-acoustic musician and sound installation artist. Visiting artist/teaching residencies have included Oberlin Conservatory, MIT, Harvard, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Princeton, Dartmouth, Wesleyan, among many others. He lives near Boston, USA.

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