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Take one last ride with Popcorn Sutton in his prized Model A as the infamous moonshiner motors deep into Appalachia to run one last batch of traditional bootleg whiskey.
In The Last One, Sutton searches for a suitable site to set up operations, then clears it, builds a furnace, brews corn mash and finally distills it into his special blend of high proof moonshine. See this irrepressible personality reveal the craft of traditional distillation as practiced by his forbears and a lifetime of white lightning memories.
The Emmy award-winning documentary also features interviews with Appalachian folklorists, storytellers, and noted authors exploring the role of moonshine in Appalachian history and identity. Yet, the affable Sutton dominates the film, weaving explanations of points of craft with stories of a lifetime of experiences in the moonshine trade.
Popcorn Sutton’s fame grew exponentially in March 2009 when he committed suicide following a series of highly publicized moonshine busts. He was scheduled to report for an eighteen-month prison term and elected instead to end his life. Obituaries appeared in publications around the country including the Washington Post and New York Times.
“Popcorn’s death underscores the cultural preservation value of films like The Last One, a fact that I doubt escaped the Emmy selection committee," says Neal Hutcheson, producer and director of The Last One.
The Last One was produced by Sucker Punch Pictures and funded in part by grants from the North Carolina Arts Council and United Arts of Wake County. Hutcheson is best known for his collaborations with the linguist Walt Wolfram at NC State University, including the popular documentary Mountain Talk, which laid the groundwork for several further documentaries including the PBS release The Queen Family, and a dramatic film, Gary Carden’s The Prince of Dark Corners.