Independent Lens | Rich Hill
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Watch Monday, January 5, 2015 at midnight on WMHT TV.
Watch Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 7:30pm on WORLD. 

Produced and directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, Rich Hill goes inside the homes and lives of small town America, where kids confront heartbreaking choices, marginalized parents struggle to survive, and families cling to the promise of equal opportunity and a better life — someday. The film follows three teenage boys, Andrew, Harley, and Appachey, as they struggle with isolation, broken families, and lack of opportunity, providing an immersive and realistic picture of growing up poor in America. Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary.

Rich Hill, Missouri, population 1393, is seventy miles south of Kansas City and fifteen miles east of the Kansas border. Once a thriving mining town, Rich Hill’s decline began when the coal was mined out shortly after World War II. Today, like many other small towns in America, it has fallen on hard times, as have the families who still call it home.

First cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo share a deep bond and affection for Rich Hill, the hometown of their parents. Despite its current bleak circumstances, they felt drawn to portray the daily challenges townspeople face, and to focus in particular on the lives of three teenage boys. The film bears witness to the challenges facing the millions of American children living in rural poverty today, and reveals the sustaining power of family bonds. While there is sometimes shame in their circumstances, these children have immense pride in their families, however fractured they may be, because family means having a reason for being, and a place in the world.

“At its heart, our film is an invitation to empathy, to share a connection with those who might otherwise be avoided and dismissed,” said Tragos. “Out of that place of connectedness and shared humanity, we hope audiences will question how we justify denying resources and social capital to vulnerable families, who are, at the most fundamental level, so much like our own.”

Visit the Rich Hill companion website ( which features information about the film, including an interview with the filmmakers and links and resources pertaining to the film’s subject matter.