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277 Ratings


Directed by John Sayles
United States, 1987
Drama, History, Crime


A labor union organizer comes to an embattled mining community brutally and violently dominated and harassed by the mining company.

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Matewan Directed by John Sayles

Awards & Festivals

Cannes Film Festival

1987 | Directors' Fortnight

Academy Awards

1988 | Nominee: Best Cinematography

Independent Spirit Awards

1988 | Winner: Best Cinematography

1988 | 5 nominations including: Best Feature

Critics reviews

John Sayles’s Matewan, an intricately scripted and historically nuanced drama about the insurrection of coal miners in 1920 West Virginia, might have been the best U.S. film to premiere at Cannes in 1987… But to savor this ambitious convergence of labor politics, racial legacies, and multiethnic tensions, or marvel at Haskell Wexler’s textured resourcefulness in filming gunfights in pitch-black woodlands, festivalgoers that year had to plumb the Directors’ Fortnight section.
May 22, 2017
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The film—designed in shades of moss, brown, and charcoal, and bathed in delicate, diffuse light by Haskell Wexler, whose camerawork earned an Oscar nomination—is rooted in the textures and rhythms of an earlier era; it’s easily the most visually expressive of Sayles’ features. But it is, above all, a movie driven by the speaking voice…
September 25, 2014
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