About the film

Remington Smith

Director, Producer, Cinematographer

Contact

Rubbertown is Louisville, Kentucky's neighborhood of heavy industrial manufacturing plants, and is located near a power plant and a toxic landfill site. These facilities are adjacent to residential neighborhoods.

The documentary Rubbertown follows Louisville, Kentucky resident Monika Burkhead as she tries to move her entire house to another county after suffering through years of regular leaks, spills, and occasional explosions at the nearby facilities, alongside fellow residents reporting higher rates of cancer and respiratory illnesses.

Part Studs Terkel-style oral history, part travelogue-from-hell, Rubbertown mixes traditional documentary storytelling techniques with exploratory POV expeditions, weaving together an examination of the environmental, political and social conditions affecting residents of Rubbertown.

Through Monika's house-moving narrative and the parallel story of Charles Pope, the film presents the perspectives of individuals varying in race, class, and regional affiliation, all within Louisville’s borders. The film's diversity reflects Louisville’s particular combination of spaces, with urban areas closer to the city occupied by African-Americans, and white residents in rural areas further from the city center. In exploring these spaces through a POV lens and falling into impromptu conversations, Rubbertown offers a unique documentary experience—one that invites audience members to explore the issues for themselves, and sparks an interest in what’s going on in their own backyard.

Participants

Monika Burkhead

Monika Burkhead has been a resident of Riverside Gardens in Louisville, Kentucky since 1975. She became an environmental activist once she learned of the health risks of living in the shadow of LG&E's smokestacks, the continued threat posed by the Lee’s Lane Landfill (where she has caught children swimming in a pond) and chemical plants nearby regularly having spills. Her daughter Jennifer developed a kidney stone disease, colitis and Crohn’s when she was 13, all of which Monika attributes to living in Rubbertown.

Monika Burkhead

Charles Pope

Charles Pope has lived on Louisville, Kentucky's west side all his life. When his mother died of Bronchoalveolar lung cancer, doctors told him it was potentially linked to her proximity to Rubbertown. In 2003 he joined REACT (Rubbertown Emergency ACTion) with Eboni Cochran, and began taking air samples and organizing the community to fight pollution in their neighborhood.

Charles Pope

Media

Screenings

Louisville International Festival of Film
October 15
11:30am
Louisville, KY

Louisville Premiere Screening
September 30
8:00pm
Louisville, KY

Y'allywood Film Festival
September 30
6:00pm
Avondale Theatre

Louisville International Festival of Film
September 15
11:00am
Louisville, KY

Snake Alley Festival of Films
June 25
Burlington, IA

Indie Grits Film Festival
April 16
4:30pm
Columbia, SC

Upike Film and Media Film festival
April 9
4:30pm
Pikeville, KY

17th Crossroads Film Festival
April 2
1pm
Jackson, MS

38th Big Muddy Film Festival
February 27
12pm
Carbondale, IL

Request a screening

Resources

A history of Rubbertown in the news

History

Reports & Documents

Current

2015

Archive