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Rich Hill: An Intimate Exploration of Poverty and Childhood in the American Midwest

This film is an intimate, heart-wrenching exploration of the lives of three boys grappling with poverty in the heart of America.

Keywords: Rich Hill, poverty, childhood, socioeconomic disparity, resilience, American Midwest, documentary


"Rich Hill" is a poignant documentary directed by Andrew Droz Palermo and Tracy Droz Tragos released in 2014. It offers an intimate look into the lives of three boys in Rich Hill, an economically distressed town in the Midwest. The relevance of this documentary is underscored by the ongoing discussion on wealth disparity and the struggles faced by those living in poverty in America.


"Rich Hill" intimately chronicles the turbulent lives of Andrew, Harley, and Appachey. These three boys, each facing their unique set of challenges, navigate their adolescence while grappling with the harsh realities of poverty. Their fragile family bonds serve as their only source of strength amidst the instability of their circumstances.

More Film Analysis


The documentary adopts a deeply observational approach, allowing the boys' stories to unfold organically. The directors have done an outstanding job in providing a raw, unfiltered portrayal of life in low-income America. The depth of the subject exploration and the sensitive presentation style make for a compelling watch.

Historical and Factual Context

Rich Hill, Missouri, the town where the documentary is set, has been grappling with economic instability for years. The directors have effectively used this backdrop to highlight broader issues of poverty and economic disparity in America.

Key themes in the film

  • The impact of socio-economic status on childhood and adolescent experiences
  • The strength of familial bonds in the face of adversity
  • The resilience of the human spirit against overwhelming odds

Film Comparisons

"Rich Hill" can be compared to other documentaries like "American Factory" and "Hillbilly" that also explore economic struggles in the American heartland. However, "Rich Hill" stands out due to its focus on the intersection of poverty and childhood.

Noteworthy Moments

One of the most significant moments in the documentary is when the boys express their dreams and aspirations for the future, a poignant reminder of their resilience and hopefulness despite their circumstances.


"Rich Hill" has been lauded by audiences and critics alike for its honest portrayal of poverty in America. It holds an IMDb rating of 7.2 and has received 6 wins and 9 nominations in various film festivals.


"Rich Hill" is a must-watch documentary, shedding light on the often overlooked stories of those living in impoverished conditions. It is particularly relevant for viewers interested in social justice, economic disparity, and child welfare.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 7.2
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: Not available
  • Metacritic score: Not available
  • Film festival awards: 6 wins & 9 nominations



  • Andrew: A 13-year-old boy with dreams of a better life
  • Harley: A 15-year-old grappling with a troubled family background
  • Appachey: A 12-year-old using humor as a coping mechanism



  • Rich Hill, Missouri: The economically distressed town where the boys live

Key questions raised by the film:

  1. How does economic disparity impact the lives of children and adolescents?
  2. What role do family bonds play in coping with adversity?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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  1. A famous book, it would be "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls, depicting a family's struggle with poverty.
  2. A famous song? "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, capturing the hope for a better life despite adverse circumstances.
  3. A famous piece of art? "The Two Fridas" by Frida Kahlo, symbolizing resilience in the face of hardship.
  4. A famous celebrity? Johnny Depp, who rose from a background of poverty to become a successful actor.
  5. A colour? Grey, representing the bleakness of their situation, but with shades of hope.
  6. A music style? Blues, with its roots in expressing struggle and hardship.