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When making documentaries, nothing pays off as well as a massive investment of time. For her brand-new American Hollow, filmmaker Rory Kennedy spent a year with a family that ekes out an existence in one of the most impoverished sections of Appalachia, the United States’ largest rural poverty belt. The Bowlings are subsistence farmers who also gather such plants as ginseng and blood root, but their survival ultimately depends on government assistance. As they came to trust Kennedy, they revealed the intimate details of their economically borderline lives, as well as demonstrating their strong ties to family, tradition, and their hardscrabble land. American Hollow is screened tonight at 7 p.m. at the National Archives, 7th and Pennsylvania Avenue NW. Free. (202) 501-5000. (MJ)