“Hollow: An Interactive Video” about the complex history of McDowell County, W.Va., will be screened for the first time on Oct. 31, at 7 p.m. in the Virginia Tech Bioinformatics Institute Auditorium.

The directors of the film will be on hand to lead a discussion.

A non-linear Internet-based documentary, “Hollow” shares the stories of 30 of McDowell County residents. Once a thriving county of over 100,000 residents, McDowell County is now the poorest in coalfield Appalachia and one of the most economically stressed in the country with a population of about 21,000.

“Hollow” merges cinematic techniques with Web-based storytelling to encourage a dialogue about issues that small-town America faces, not just those in the Appalachian coalfields of McDowell County. It offers a familiar story for many American rural counties via residents telling about their own lives. 

“Hollow” was produced and directed by Elaine McMillion and Tricia Fulks, who are transforming the nature of documentary film journalism through their use of the interactive capacities of Web-based documentaries.

A seminar for interested faculty and students will be held with the producers on Friday at 1 p.m. in the seminar room at Solitude, the large white building at the end of the Duck Pond at 705 West Campus Dr.

Using a WordPress blogging tool that feeds into the main experience called Holler Home, McDowell County residents can continue to update their stories and initiatives. Audience members also will have opportunities to contribute their own narratives to the documentary online after the discussion. 

“On one hand, the film illustrates the extreme poverty and consequences of the loss of an economic base,” said Anita Puckett, professor of Appalachian Studies in the Department of Religions and Culture. “But, it also communicates the residents’ strong sense of belonging in ways that the directors hope will work as a catalyst to promote positive change, improve county life in the future, and help provide potential solutions to serious county sustainability problems.”

“Hollow” has been positively reviewed in The New York Times and a writer at The Huffington Post called it “the most magnificently presented, Web-aware journalism I’ve ever seen.”

The screening is free and open to the public. The auditorium is located at 1015 Life Science Circle, on the corner of Washington Street and Duck Pond Road. The auditorium is located on the lower level of the building, with an entrance near the parking lot.

For more information, Puckett may be contacted at 540-231-9526.

This event is sponsored by the Solitude and Appalachian Studies Preservation Fund; the Women and Minority Artists and Scholars Lecture Series, the College for Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, the Appalachian Studies Program; and the Department of Religion and Culture.