A Coalfield Christmas

Family comes first during Christmas - whether they're alive or dead.

Project type: Fiction Short
Project status: Complete
Director/Writer: Julia Maddox
Producer: Mark Lamb
Cinematographer: Prabhat Gurung
Cast: Carol Niswonger
Email: juliamaddox@outlook.com
Website: A Coalfield Christmas
Facebook: A Coalfield Christmas

Film Independent’s Fiscal Sponsorship program opens the door to nonprofit funding for independent filmmakers and media artists.



On Christmas Eve, a teenage girl visiting her old-school grandma in Kentucky gets an unexpected lesson on how to show compassion for others during the holidays.


17 year-old Michelle visits her grandmother, Mamaw, to help her ready the house on the morning of the big Christmas Eve family dinner. While they clean, Mamaw tells Michelle the story of how Granddaddy Red died the previous year, which prompts an unexpected trip to the. local cemetery. Much to Michelle’s shock, Mamaw interrupts a new widow grieving the recent death of her husband. Mamaw comforts the woman by telling her of her own experience, letting her know that her husband will not be alone in the cemetery, that her husband will be there for him now. After the widow and her daughter leave, Michelle asks Mamaw how she knew what to tell the widow. Mamaw tells her to “never let anyone sit alone in their pain, especially if it’s one you know.” Once the women leave, the ghosts of the deceased husbands appear by their headstones, striking up a friendship over a bottle of bourbon swapping stories as the sun sets on Christmas Eve.

Meet the Filmmakers

Julia Maddox – Director/Writer
Julia Maddox is pursuing an MFA in Film at City College of New York. Her feature script, The Coward of Hickory County, was a finalist at the 2021 Atlanta Film Festival Screenwriting Competition and a Second Rounder at the 2021 Austin Film Festival Screenwriting Competition. Her microshort, El Velorio, was a featured selection at the 2021 Chain NYC Film Festival, 2021 aGLIFF/PRism Film Festival, the June 2021 New York Independent Film Festival and the 2021 Reel Pride LGBT Film Festival. She was recently awarded a 2021-2022 BAFTA New York Taffner Family Fund Scholarship. Born and raised in both Madisonville and Murray, Kentucky, small town stories are her specialty.

Mark Lamb – Producer
Mark Lamb has worn many hats in his lifetime working in the arts. A Sturgis, Kentucky native, he has spent his whole life working professionally as a storyteller and dancer. A previous winner of both the National Storytelling Festival and The Moth Grand Slam, he sees working as a film producer so close to home is a great new opportunity.

Prabhat Gurung – Cinematographer
Prabhat Gurung is pursuing an MFA in Film at City College of New York. He recently received two prestigious grants for student filmmakers, the Chantal Akerman grant, and the Dr. David A. Milch grant. He will be filming his thesis short film, The Monk and the Rebel, in his native Nepal in December.

Carol Niswonger – Cast
Actress and Madisonville native Carol Niswonger is a veteran of many Kentucky-based theatrical productions and short films. A life-long teacher, she was the first to teach the screenwriter/director Julia Maddox how to read a script in her seventh grade class in 1983. Carol spent the summer of 1991 as a background performer at Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana in the Penny Marshall Film, A League of Their Own.


For inquiries, please contact fiscalsponsorship@filmindependent.org.