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The Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania (2005)

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Ratings: 7.0/10 from 48 users  
Reviews: 6 user | 3 critic

In this documentary, Sarah Rush takes us back to the coal-mining town of her youth -- Carmichaels, Penn., population: 556. At the 50th anniversary of the Coal Queen Pageant in August 2003, ... See full summary »

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In this documentary, Sarah Rush takes us back to the coal-mining town of her youth -- Carmichaels, Penn., population: 556. At the 50th anniversary of the Coal Queen Pageant in August 2003, we're introduced to 14 young ladies who are vying for the coveted crown. Written by Raveen87

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16 October 2005 (USA)  »

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$350,000 (estimated)
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Wonderful, genuine documentary
24 February 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania" is a gentle, honest, humorous look into the small town life of a coal mining town in southwestern Pennsylvania (Carmichaels, pop. 565) during an annual beauty pageant.

What at first sounds like a possibly uninteresting or unsophisticated subject, especially to city dwellers, turns out to be riveting, funny, and touching. Documentaries are meant to show viewers something they might not otherwise see, and as fewer and fewer people grow up in small towns, "Bituminous Coal Queens" is a look into a life that seems a million miles away from New York City or Los Angeles.

Documentary-noir fans probably won't like "Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania" because it doesn't seek to uncover the worst in its subject. It is not intent on expose', satire, or worse, but seeks to show universal human truths. The director, David Hunt, says the most common praise he gets from viewers is "thank you for not making them look ridiculous." If you want to smirk with urbane superiority at the country rubes who even hold beauty pageants anymore ("haven't they heard of political correctness?!") skip this one, it will disappoint. If, on the other hand, you want to see strong human connection and personal aspiration in a surprising context, don't miss "Bituminous Coal Queens of Pennsylvania."


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