Written and directed by John Sayles, this wrenching historical drama recounts the true story of a West Virginia coal town where the local minersâ struggle to form a union rose to the pitch of all-out war in 1920. When the town of Matewanâs miners go on strike, organizer Joe Kenehan (Chris Cooper, in his screen debut) arrives to help them, uniting workers white and black, Appalachia-born and immigrant, while urging patience in the face of the coal companyâs violent provocations. With a crackerjack ensemble castâincluding James Earl Jones, David Strathairn, Mary McDonnell, and Will Oldhamâand Oscar-nominated cinematography by Haskell Wexler, Matewan taps into a rich vein of Americana with painstaking attention to local texture, issuing an impassioned cry for justice that still resounds today.
Audio commentary featuring John Sayles and cinematographer Haskell Wexler
New documentary on the making of the film featuring John Sayles, producer Maggie Renzi, production designer Nora Chavooshian, and actors Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell, Will Oldham, and David Strathairn
New interview with composer Mason Daring on the filmâs soundtrack
New program on the filmâs production design featuring Nora Chavooshian