Independent Lens: Rich Hill

About This Episode


Go inside the homes and lives of small town America, where kids confront heartbreaking choices, marginalized parents struggle to survive, and families cling to the promise of equal opportunity and a better life — someday. Rich Hill follows three teenage boys, Andrew, Harley, and Appachey, as they struggle with isolation, broken families, and lack of opportunity, providing an immersive and realistic picture of growing up poor in America.

Rich Hill, Missouri, population 1393, is 70 miles south of Kansas City and 15 miles east of the Kansas border. Once a thriving mining town, Rich Hill’s decline began when the coal was mined out shortly after World War II. Today, like many other small towns in America, it has fallen on hard times, as have the families who still call it home.

The film bears witness to the challenges facing the millions of American children living in rural poverty today, and reveals the sustaining power of family bonds. While there is sometimes shame in their circumstances, these children have immense pride in their families, however fractured they may be, because family means having a reason for being, and a place in the world.