Matewan

by John Sayles

United States of America
1987
135 min
OV English - with French subtitles
Feature film
Fiction
Color
DCP

John Sayles will be attending

Retrospectives & Focus 2021

Official synopsis

In the twenties, the story of violent social unrest in a small mining town.

The programmer’s eye

West Virginia, 1920. Activist Joe Kennehan (Chris Cooper) arrives in the mining town of Matewan to convert workers to unionism. He then discovers a divided population, enslaved by the employers but also by their prejudices. Thanks to Kennehan's verve, the miners and their families eventually form a united front and wage a merciless battle against the company that exploits them. The revolt is underway. A gripping counter-story of the American dream, “Matewan” is a staple of John Sayles' filmography.

— Nathan Reneaud

Biography and Filmography

After graduating from high school, John Sayles led an itinerant life and held various odd jobs, while writing short stories and novels. He joined the stable of producer Roger Corman, where he wrote screenplays. He worked in particular for Joe Dante (“Piranha”, 1978, “The Howling”, 1980). Using his reputation as a screenwriter to finance his films, John Sayles built a remarkable filmmaker career, in terms of both originality and independence in the context of American cinema. Produced with a miserable budget, his first film, “Return of the Secaucus Seven” (1980) was a hit among critics and stood as a precursor of “buddy movies”. Attentive to social reality, John Sayles poses as the heir to the counterculture of the 1960s. Each of his films preserves a documentary aspect and features characters forced to redefine their social position. “Lianna” (1983) evokes female homosexuality, “The Brother from Another Planet” (1984), in burlesque fashion, tells the adventures of a black alien in the streets of New York. Sayles then tackled an episode of workers' struggle in the United States with “Matewan” (1987). Complexity of the subjects, ambiguity of the characters: John Sayles maintained a very personal course which placed him on the fringes of the dominant entertainment cinema. From “City of Hope” (1991), a convincing portrait of an American town, to “Limbo” (1999), which evokes the life of a small people of Alaska, he demonstrated an uncompromising eclecticism hailed belatedly by the European critic. Her only commissioned film, “Baby It's You” (1982), a romantic comedy starring Rosanna Arquette, underlines the fluidity of her style. (Ciné-Ressources - French Cinémathèque)

2010 : AMIGO - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2008 : THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES - Mark Waters - Screenwriter
2007 : HONEYDRIPPER - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2004 : SILVER CITY - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2003 : CASA DE LOS BABYS - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2002 : SUNSHINE STATE - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1999 : LIMBO - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1997 : MEN WITH GUNS - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1996 : LONE STAR - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1994 : MEN OF WAR - Perry Lang - Screenwriter
1994 : THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1992 : PASSION FISH - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1991 : CITY OF HOPE - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1989 : BREAKING IN - Bill Forsyth - Screenwriter
1988 : EIGHT MEN OUT - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1987 : MATEWAN - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1987 : WILD THING - Max Reid - Screenwriter
1986 : THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR - Michael Chapman - Screenwriter
1984 : THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1983 : BABY IT’S YOU - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1983 : LIANNA - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1983 : ENORMOUS CHANGES AT THE LAST MINUTE - Mirra Bank - Screenwriter
1982 : THE CHALLENGE - John Frankenheimer - Screenwriter
1981 : THE HOWLING - Joe Dante - Screenwriter
1980 : RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS 7 - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1980 : BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS - Jimmy T. Murakawi - Screenwriter
1980 : ALLIGATOR - Lewis Teague - Screenwriter
1979 : THE LADY IN RED - Lewis Teague - Screenwriter
1978 : PIRANHA - Joe Dante - Screenwriter

John Sayles

Chris Cooper, James Earl Jones, Mary McDonnell...

Maggie Renzi

Park Circus

de John Sayles

After graduating from high school, John Sayles led an itinerant life and held various odd jobs, while writing short stories and novels. He joined the stable of producer Roger Corman, where he wrote screenplays. He worked in particular for Joe Dante (“Piranha”, 1978, “The Howling”, 1980). Using his reputation as a screenwriter to finance his films, John Sayles built a remarkable filmmaker career, in terms of both originality and independence in the context of American cinema. Produced with a miserable budget, his first film, “Return of the Secaucus Seven” (1980) was a hit among critics and stood as a precursor of “buddy movies”. Attentive to social reality, John Sayles poses as the heir to the counterculture of the 1960s. Each of his films preserves a documentary aspect and features characters forced to redefine their social position. “Lianna” (1983) evokes female homosexuality, “The Brother from Another Planet” (1984), in burlesque fashion, tells the adventures of a black alien in the streets of New York. Sayles then tackled an episode of workers' struggle in the United States with “Matewan” (1987). Complexity of the subjects, ambiguity of the characters: John Sayles maintained a very personal course which placed him on the fringes of the dominant entertainment cinema. From “City of Hope” (1991), a convincing portrait of an American town, to “Limbo” (1999), which evokes the life of a small people of Alaska, he demonstrated an uncompromising eclecticism hailed belatedly by the European critic. Her only commissioned film, “Baby It's You” (1982), a romantic comedy starring Rosanna Arquette, underlines the fluidity of her style. (Ciné-Ressources - French Cinémathèque)

2010 : AMIGO - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2008 : THE SPIDERWICK CHRONICLES - Mark Waters - Screenwriter
2007 : HONEYDRIPPER - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2004 : SILVER CITY - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2003 : CASA DE LOS BABYS - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
2002 : SUNSHINE STATE - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1999 : LIMBO - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1997 : MEN WITH GUNS - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1996 : LONE STAR - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1994 : MEN OF WAR - Perry Lang - Screenwriter
1994 : THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1992 : PASSION FISH - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1991 : CITY OF HOPE - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1989 : BREAKING IN - Bill Forsyth - Screenwriter
1988 : EIGHT MEN OUT - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1987 : MATEWAN - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1987 : WILD THING - Max Reid - Screenwriter
1986 : THE CLAN OF THE CAVE BEAR - Michael Chapman - Screenwriter
1984 : THE BROTHER FROM ANOTHER PLANET - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1983 : BABY IT’S YOU - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1983 : LIANNA - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1983 : ENORMOUS CHANGES AT THE LAST MINUTE - Mirra Bank - Screenwriter
1982 : THE CHALLENGE - John Frankenheimer - Screenwriter
1981 : THE HOWLING - Joe Dante - Screenwriter
1980 : RETURN OF THE SECAUCUS 7 - John Sayles - Director and screenwriter
1980 : BATTLE BEYOND THE STARS - Jimmy T. Murakawi - Screenwriter
1980 : ALLIGATOR - Lewis Teague - Screenwriter
1979 : THE LADY IN RED - Lewis Teague - Screenwriter
1978 : PIRANHA - Joe Dante - Screenwriter