August 14, 2018
A film about the Shelton Laurel Massacre has placed as a semifinalist for the 2018 Southeastern International Film Festival. The film was produced to accompany “The Civil War in the Southern Highlands: A Human Perspective,” an exhibition curated and displayed at Mars Hill University’s Rural Heritage Museum in late 2017 and early 2018.
“A main feature of the exhibition was an examination of the infamous Shelton Laurel Massacre, which took place in Madison County, North Carolina,” said museum director Les Reker. “By providing recent scholarship on the incident, the film sheds new light on this haunting remnant of the Civil War in Appalachia.”
The Shelton Laurel Massacre happened in January 1863, when Confederate soldiers summarily arrested and executed 13 prisoners in the remote Shelton Laurel valley. That event drove a deep wound into the rural communities of Madison County that lingers to this day. Exhibit organizers say that, in many ways, the events in Shelton Laurel in 1863 have become emblematic of the Civil War as fought in the mountains: confused and complicated, often conducted outside the rules of war by individuals with changeable loyalties, looking only to survive.
Reker served as director of the film. Ryan Phillips, a Mars Hill alumnus, was cinematographer and producer. Writers and other contributors included Carolyn Comeau, Katherine Cutshall, Max Hunt, Maynard Shelton, and Dan Slagle.