What began as a 300-word comfort blanket Appalachian tale has turned into an award-winning film. Now, seven years after the project began, Bethany Brooke Anderson is bringing Burning Kentucky home to the Bluegrass. “Burning Kentucky is an Appalachian tale about a girl who tries to find the missing pieces of an event that killed her family. And once she pieces together the mystery she has to decide between basically revenge or love.”
Anderson grew up in Lexington and studied theatre at UK and headed to LA after graduation. She spent several years pursuing a career in acting and in 2012 felt drawn to bring her own work to life. She knew her vision had to be brought to life in Kentucky and that’s where 90% of the film was shot. Anderson called it a once in a lifetime experience that she hopes to have again and again. “I’m really inspired by Kentucky and I feel like bringing it back home was the only way to do it. And I think good movies and good stories are told by the voices that are in them and that can relate to them. And Kentucky is my story. And Kentucky is the story of so many of artists that were involved with the film. And so I feel like that resonates with the audience and that they can tell that it’s our story. I feel like an audience in Kentucky is going to resonate to it in a totally different way.”
One of those local artists is Emilie Dhir. Now in college, Dihr spent her high school years at SCAPA with her brown locks dyed golden blonde for her breakout role Aria. She literally grew up while filming Burning Kentucky.
“So we basically had like two shoots that were three years apart. And the first time we started filming I was still 14 or 15 and I remember I was so scared the entire time. I felt very out of my comfort zone. And I was trying to be like very professional and act like I knew what I was doing but I definitely didn’t the entire time. But Bethany was the perfect director to work with for the first time. She was so nurturing and always made sure that I was OK and I knew what was going on. And then by the time we shot the second time I was 18 and so I had grown up a lot on my own and I felt a lot more comfortable because a lot of the same crew came back. Everyone in the cast was so great too. I mean Bethany talks about how well seasoned they were but they were so supportive and encouraging of me. It was like the perfect first time. Honestly.”
Burning Kentucky’s red carpet premiere at the Kentucky Theatre is next Thursday, that’s July 25th at 7:30.