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WV Netflix doc receives Oscar buzz

February 28, 2018

By Tony Rutherford

A short documentary by West Virginia University alumna Elaine McMillion Sheldon and her husband, Kerrin, has been nominated for Best Documentary Short by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Shot in Huntington, "Heroin(e)" focuses on the efforts of three women from the community trying to combat the drug epidemic.

Huntington Fire Chief Jan Rader, drug court Judge Patricia Keller and Realtor Necia Freeman are the women featured, and they will be invited to attend the ceremony.

Rader said, "Elaine and Kerrin are very talented. I would love to see them get an Oscar. I am also thankful that the documentary is starting conversations that are necessary to get us all through this epidemic."

The entertainment industry has faced high profile drug addiction issues. "Heroin(e)" demonstrates that "addiction knows no boundaries" from an A-list performer to a next door neighbor, Rader said.

Should the film receive the win, the honor could generate more awareness of measures implemented by Huntington to combat the epidemic. International exposure on the Oscar telecast and other screenings will potentially allow the efforts of these women and the city to gain the attention of private philanthropic foundations that would otherwise not learn of Huntington's challenges. It has already led to appearing on a panel at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit and she was a guest of Sen. Joe Manchin at the 2018 State of the Union Address.

Rader has been called an unlikely heroine. Born in Ironton, she attended gemology school in California and worked for eight years at a Fairfax County, Virginia jewelry store. After witnessing a woman have a heart attack and turn blue in front of her store, Rader enrolled in CPR, EMS and firefighting classes. That propelled her into learning how to rescue someone from a burning building and administer certified professional medical care.

You might describe her as more than a hometown heroine; she's Huntington's superwoman even though she does not have a cape. As another writer stated, "She is paving the way for young girls looking to do big things that might think they can't because they are a girl. Rader is here to show them they are wrong, and she is just right down the street."

The film has been shown on Netflix, as well as a one night screening at Marquee Pullman Square sponsored by the Marshall University Journalism Department, and a Charleston Q&A sponsored by WV Executive Magazine.

Film industry trade publications - Boxoffice, Variety, Hollywood Reporter - had favored the production for an Academy nomination. Although buzz varies, it's favored by some to win the Oscar.

Rader had told that if nominated by the Academy, she, Judge Patricia Keller and Necia Freeman would be invited to attend the ceremony.

Tony Rutherford is a film reviewer for and a member of the Huntington Regional Film Commission.



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