John Prine: “Summer’s End”

Official Music Video for John Prine’s “Summer’s End.” Directed by Curren Sheldon and Elaine McMillion Sheldon


Watch on Netflix

In the heart of America's opioid epidemic, four men attempt to reinvent their lives and mend broken relationships after years of drug abuse. Recovery Boys, from Academy Award nominated director Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Heroin(e)), is an intimate look at the strength, brotherhood, and courage that it takes to overcome addiction and lays bare the internal conflict of recovery. In an effort to break the cycle of generational addiction and trauma, the young men let go of painful pasts as they live in the present, and build a new community in a farming-based rehab. After rehab, they experience life's trials and tribulations sober, but struggle to find their place and purpose in an often unforgiving society. In today’s world, where shocking statistics about the opioid crisis make headlines daily, Recovery Boys gives a deeply personal look into the unseen lives of those working toward transformation.


“A Director Looks for Beauty in Her Home’s Opioid Struggle”

The New York Times

“Sensitive and life-affirming”

LA Times

“Intimate, poignant, and raw, establishing Sheldon as one of the most vital documentary filmmakers at the moment, especially on the often misunderstood subject of addiction. The social impact of a film like this shouldn’t be understated. Recovery Boys is a film with the power to break down potentially judgmental barriers that can stop someone’s chances to clean up their lives dead in their tracks.”

The Gate

“Unearths moments of raw revelation that quietly highlight our shameful lack of effective help…A moving yet cautionary tale and a painful reminder that recovery is a journey that never really ends.”

The New York Times

“Set in the middle of this crisis, the film provides an exploration of male emotions will be refreshing to anyone who has grown accustomed to staid representations within popular culture, as will the film’s focus on people in recovery instead of people suffering from addiction.”

The Guardian

“Humanizes The Opioid Epidemic”



“At times, ‘Recovery Boys’ is difficult to watch, both in its depiction of drug abuse and in the painful events that occur in the men’s lives. The goal of the film is clearly not to bring audiences down, though, but increase compassion for those who struggle with addiction. Life has not been easy for any of the ‘recovery boys,’ but they approach their 18 months in rehab with so much integrity and determination that it’s impossible to not cheer for them while watching the film.”


“We are with them all the way in a cinematic proximity that develops into raw emotional intimacy by the end. The stakes are real; choices made lead to life or death. Forget our society’s current obsession with superheroes: this is the conflict of which powerful drama is made.”

Film Festival Today

“Essential viewing for all young men”


“A sober and unflinching glimpse into the heart of America’s opioid epidemic”

Ready Steady Cut

“The immediate social impression of Recovery Boys is tremendous.”

Daily Dot

“A simple and affecting story.”


“There’s a tendency in politics to turn real misery into platitudes and abstractions; Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s documentary is the antidote.”

New York Magazine

Once a bustling industrial town, Huntington, West Virginia has become the epicenter of America’s modern opioid epidemic, with an overdose rate 10 times the national average. This flood of heroin now threatens this Appalachian city with a cycle of generational addiction, lawlessness, and poverty. But within this distressed landscape, Peabody Award-winning filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon (Hollow) shows a different side of the fight against drugs — one of hope. Sheldon highlights three women working to change the town’s narrative and break the devastating cycle of drug abuse one person at a time. Fire Chief Jan Rader spends the majority of her days reviving those who have overdosed; Judge Patricia Keller presides over drug court, handing down empathy along with orders; and Necia Freeman of Brown Bag Ministry feeds meals to the women selling their bodies for drugs. As America’s opioid crisis threatens to tear communities apart, the Netflix original short documentary Heroin(e) shows how the chain of compassion holds one town together.


“Putting human faces on the crisis”
New York Times

“A ride-along through a part of the country that has long been stigmatized and caricatured”

“Transcends the politics of our current moment”
Slant Magazine

“A portrait of America few big-city dwellers ever see”
Film Journal

“Direct style strips the doc of any needless propaganda and commentary”
Boulder Weekly

“The very best of the Oscar-nominated shorts”

“Beacons of hope and compassion”

“Finds the humanity numbers too easily ignore”
The Film Stage

“Transcends the art of filmmaking”
The Wrap



“Hauntingly powerful film on the opioid crisis”
Mother Jones

18 documentaries that will change your life
Hello Giggles

“A powerful case for compassion”

Paste Magazine

“Unflinching portrayal.”
Moveable Fest

“Alternating between stark realism and a sense of the surreal”

“Netflix documentary shows the women trying to save a city from addiction”

10 Most Powerful Docs of 2017


For decades, the Navy base known as Sugar Grove Station provided jobs and a sense of stability for the residents of Sugar Grove, West Virginia. Now, it’s being auctioned off to the highest bidder. As their mainstay fades away, members of the community consider the "Upper Base” of the former Navy post, where an NSA listening post remains operational—and sealed off from the rest of the town.

What do Trump's economic promises to the coal industry mean to voters in West Virginia? Twelve thousand mining jobs have disappeared in the state over the last few years -- and 70 percent of the vote went to Trump.


This short film, which premiered at the TEDWomen 2016 conference, explores the history of humans' complicated relationship with time, deconstructs our obsession with controlling it, and contemplates how to be more mindful of this valuable resource. 

Tiffany Noé wanders the early-morning streets of Little Haiti in Miami. She’s north of Miami’s business downtown and across the bay from the neon lights and spring break parties on Miami Beach. Here, the streets are quiet, with some local residents popping out to say hello as Ms. Noé walks by. She’s searching for something that not many people take to the streets of north Miami to find: food.


New York Times Op-Docs




Serious hunting to eliminate a beautiful, but venomous, species rapidly taking over the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The only way to get rid of the invaders is if the greatest predator of all - humans - kill the lionfish before they wreak more havoc.

Directed & Edited by Kerrin Sheldon. Cinematography by Elaine Sheldon & Kerrin Sheldon

The lionfish have invaded your plate, and they're delicious. Ryan Chadwick currently owns three restaurants, a vodka brand and a nightclub, and these days he is trying to make a business out of an environmental problem. Chadwick is serving lionfish to diners at Norman's Cay, his Caribbean-style restaurant on the Lower East Side in New York.

Directed by Kerrin Sheldon. Cinematography by Elaine Sheldon & Kerrin Sheldon. Edited by Elaine Sheldon


New York Times Op-Docs

This short film celebrates the life and work of Seamus Heaney, the most famous contemporary poet in Ireland.

Directed & Produced by Elaine McMillion Sheldon and Kerrin Sheldon 

Abandon These Mountains

Nearly 75,000 gathered in the small community of Holden, W.Va. to celebrate Labor Day at The Friends of America Rally. The rally was sponsored by Massey Energy and cost around $1 million to produce. Guests included: Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity and Hank Williams Jr. III Video by Elaine McMillion / Charleston Daily Mail (2010)

In its heyday, Welch, West Virginia was known as “Little New York” and the “nation’s coal bin.” But with a decrease in the demand for coal and miners, the county has lost 80,000 people since 1950. Ed Shepard has owned and operated his service station in Welch for 62 years and has seen his town transform from a bustling city to a ghost town. Despite lack of business, the 89-year-old still opens his store daily. He says his life at the station gives him purpose. 

There Is Hope For The Area

Shawn and Stephanie Penwarden moved from North Carolina to McDowell County, West Virginia over two years ago. Shawn was initially hauling coal, but when his business slowed down they decided to start providing services to the ATV riders on the Hatfield and McCoy trail. The Penwardens run an ATV repair and parts shop and a small restaurant in Northfork, but not without struggle. They have a hard time finding qualified workers and getting the local support needed to integrate their business into the community. 

The Trout Are Beautiful Here

Elkhorn Creek was listed in Field and Stream as being one of the top 10 trout streams in the country. People travel from all over the country and world to fish the stream and get a glimpse at the beautiful rainbow and brown trout. But due to lack of infrastructure in the old coal mining towns, the Elkhorn suffers from pollution like many Appalachian rivers and streams.

Farming Young

Once urban dwellers, some young adults are choosing the farm life over corporate America. The farmers at Wheatland Vegetable Farms in Loudon County, Va., say that while their new job demands hard labor and longer hours, it provides them with a heightened sense of accomplishment and independence. Video by Elaine McMillion / The Washington Post (2009)

A journey underground with a team of coal miners in McDowell County, West Virginia. 

Basketball at Mount View High School

Hauling Coal

Swim team in Welch, W.Va.

"Country Roads" at church

Learning how to fish

Manuel Collins flatfooting in his home in War, West Virginia. 



New York Times Op-Docs

In Colorado, two towns near each other have divergent reactions to their state’s legalization of marijuana. 


Featured on Gawker

West Virginia stands in a state of emergency after a potentially harmful chemical spilled into a local river and contaminated the water supply. And no one knows how long it will last. More than 100,000 customers in the nine counties receiving water from the 1,500-mile affected network were ordered to stop using their water for almost everything.

Almost six days after a chemical leak left 300,000 West Virginians without drinkable tap water, life is slowly starting to return to normal. Most parts of nine counties that received water contaminated by thousands of gallons of a chemical used in the coal industry still can't use their water. But close to 25,000 customers were able to flush unsafe water out of their homes and businesses. 

THE LOWER 9 (2011)

The Lower 9: A Story of Home is a documentary showcasing four determined Lower-Ninth-Ward residents who share their most intimate stories of home, as they resume their lives over seven years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged their neighborhood. The individual’s stories find voice in a narrative that intersperses contemporary interviews, abstract cinematography of destruction, and powerful scenes of present-day lives.

Directed by: Matthew Hashiguchi
Co-Directed by: Elaine McMillion Sheldon
Produced by: Matthew Hashiguchi, Elaine McMillion Sheldon