Local filmmaker Joe Chang produced and edited this film by writer-director Martha Stephens, an ambitious work that interweaves four storylines over the course of a weekend into a single filmic tapestry. Set in the coal fields of eastern Kentucky, Passenger Pigeons centers on—or touches on—the effects of a coal miner who died in an accident. This is a quiet, subtle little film that benefits from extremely good photography, good performances and a sense of purpose. It was a selection of the 2010 SXSW film festival and is now making its local debut.
The best thing about the film—apart perhaps from the scenes detailing the relationship between Moses (Bryan Marshall) and Benny (Will Casse)—is Stephen’s ability to convey a strong sense of place. This isn’t a movie that just takes place somewhere. This is a movie that truly inhabits—even embodies—that place. The film seems to be an organic creation, growing out of its surroundings. That’s a pretty rare quality in any film, but here it feels absolutely effortless and absolutely right. Even when the narrative stumbles—and it does on occasion—the tone of the film never does. It has an honesty that makes it worthwhile and then some.