CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Webster County native is the writer, director and star of “Back Fork,” a new movie filmed entirely in West Virginia that’s being released this week.
“‘Back Fork’ is a story that I think, unfortunately, has been something that all the little small towns and communities back in West Virginia and the surrounding areas could relate to,” said Josh Stewart.
“I was just interested in telling a story from the standpoint of the people there on the ground — what it does to people, what it does to the family and friends, just the way that it’s tearing families and the communities apart through no fault of their own.”
In the film, Stewart portrays Waylon, a grieving father struggling to hold his life and family together.
Waylon eventually turns to prescription pills for relief.
His wife Nida is played by A.J. Cook while Agnes Bruckner depicts his sister, Raylene.
Actor David Selby, a Morgantown native, also has a role.
Locations mostly in Monongalia and Preston County along with those in Webster County were used as backdrops for the film.
Allegheny Image Factory, run by Robert Tinnell and Jeffrey Tinnell from Fairmont who served as film producers, was involved in “Back Fork.”
“We all know that West Virginians are storytellers,” Stewart told MetroNews of the film team.
Stewart said his storytelling got its start during his formative years in Diana.
He’s a graduate of Webster Springs High School and went on to study at New York City’s T. Schreiber Studios before joining the company of the 13th Street Repertory Theatre.
He moved on to theater in Los Angeles and now has a long list of television credits to his name.
“Back Fork,” Stewart’s second feature film, premiered in Los Angeles last week.
In a review, the Los Angeles Times said this “The trio of performances at the center of the film are solid, if muted.”
The movie was also described as “hushed, poetic and intimate” and said to be “beautifully shot, capturing the setting’s natural beauty.”
“As native West Virginians, as we know, it’s one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can’t beat the mountains, you can’t beat the rivers, you can’t beat the landscape there and, equally, you can’t be the hearts of the people there,” Stewart said.
At the same time, he said the not-so-beautiful aspects that may be found in a large number of West Virginia homes dealing with addiction cannot be ignored.
“For me personally, it’s just me telling a story. If it can open eyes in some way, in a different way, then great. With film in general or with stories, it’s a way to link people to some sort of personal connection.”
The release of “Back Fork” includes select theaters and digital platforms like iTunes where the film will be available beginning Tuesday.