Strangers and Kin

Director: Herb E. Smith
Release Year: 1983
Running Time: 58:48
Original Format: 16mm Film
Color / B&W: color

Using funny, often poignant examples, Strangers and Kin shows the development and effect of stereotypes as technological change collides with tradition in the Southern mountains. The film traces the evolution of the “hillbilly” image through Hollywood films, network news and entertainment shows, dramatic renderings of popular literature, and interviews with contemporary Appalachians to demonstrate how stereotypes are created, reinforced, and often used to rationalize exploitation. Strangers and Kin suggests how a people can embrace modernity without becoming “strangers to their kin.”

Screenings & Festivals

American Film Festival–Finalist

Festival Internacional de Cinema/Figueira da Foz, Portugal

Hawaii International Film Festival

Museum of Modern Art

Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute

Western Psychological Association Conference


“Any society is diminished when one of its segments is stereotyped or exploited. Viewing Strangers and Kin is not a provincial exercise. It is part of our growth as a viable democracy.” –Wilma Dykeman, author and historian

“Excellent….Stimulating….Original in its presentation….Useful in classes on the topics of ethnicity and minorities, American culture and society, popular culture, and film.” –George L. Hicks, Brown University, American Anthropologist

“There’s not a TV watcher or movie fan who won’t be surprised and enhanced by this lively and meaningful presentation on stereotypes we thought we had discarded 20 years ago.” –Peter Wood, Professor of History and Film, Duke University