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The Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes & The Course Of Country Music

Directed by Beth Harrington

The Winding Stream: The Carters,  The Cashes & The Course Of Country Music still

US, 2014, 91 min, in English

THE WINDING STREAM is a story about the family at the heart of American roots music. Starting with the Original Carter Family—A.P., Sara and Maybelle—the film traces the trio’s early musical success, the transformation of the act into The Carter Sisters, June Carter’s marriage to legend Johnny Cash, and the efforts of the present-day Carter family to keep the music alive.

"Impressively researched and deftly crafted...Genuinely uplifting."



Thoughtfully assembled...Exudes a quirky warmth.

New York Times - NYT Critics' Pick

Packs enough drama, music and history to fuel a miniseries...Thoroughly entertaining.

The Hollywood Reporter

A real crowd-pleaser...Superb historical footage and rare music clips.

Boston Globe

Likely to thrill devotees as it hips new audiences...The film stands as a reminder of how much it can mean just to listen.

Village Voice (Critics' Pick)

Cogent and compelling as a pop-culture history lesson, and genuinely uplifting.


Fascinating...the music lives on.

Best of SxSW Music Movies Rolling Stone

Informative and provocative.


A gift to anyone interested in our musical roots.

Mother Jones

A deeply satisfying traditional doc about deeply satisfying traditional music that balances reverence and dramatic edge.

10 Best Music Documentaries of 2014

For anyone with even a passing interest in pop music, Harrington's richly textured doc is a treasure of folkloric Americana.

East Bay Express

Illuminating history lesson...with clever animation and engaging interviews.

San Francisco Chronicle

Beth Harrington's lovely documentary...doubles as a history of the spread of folk music.

SF Weekly

Equal parts musical entertainment and emotional human experience.

Berkeley Daily Planet

Honest and heartfelt as a country song.


A handsome and nigh-faultless history of [an] iconic roots dynasty...that'll have country and roots music fans salivating.

City Arts

Will take you on a marvelous meandering journey through American musical history that you will never forget.

Movie Magazine International

A pure delight.

Vancouver Observer

A loving and comprehensive tribute to the timeless music of this musical dynasty.

Film Journal International

A must-see for anyone interested in American roots and folk music. Includes some knockout musical performances...that are worth the price of admission alone.

Tallahassee Democrat

Fresh and revealing...the music is the final element that lifts The Winding Stream into the sublime

Lincoln Journal Star

Rich with legends from the mountains of Virginia and beyond. A well made, informative, emotional documentary.

American Standard Time

It's the story of a family hanging together over nearly a century, and of a specific strain of popular music that runs through America like no other.

Now Magazine

Harrington reaffirms her status as one of our most worthy musical film directors.


The history is surprising and fascinating. The film is rich in fresh detail and insights.

The Utah Review

By the time we lift the needle off the 78 player and head for home, we're quite in love with Maybelle and the Carter clan.

Helena Independent Record

A must-see for roots music enthusiasts.

Bold Life Magazine

An apt and wonderful tribute to the Carter-Cash musicians, their devotion to family, and their contributions to American music.

Texas Art & Film

An affectionate and often compelling tribute that's accessible to both longtime fans and newcomers alike.

What (Not) To Doc

Brings warmth and depth...that helps you appreciate the classic songs even more.

Santa Fe New Mexican

A documentary clearly forged from the love of its subject.

Riverfront Times

If you think country & western amounts to little more than a guy or gal in a cowboy hat warbling about a truck, all it will take is a couple of minutes of the Carters' raw energy to set the record straight.

San Diego Reader

For lovers of country and roots music this is a film not to be missed.

The Horn

A real treat...skillfully interweaves archival photography and recordings with animation.

Christianity Today

The film's level of detail is uncommon and hearing it all in the voices of the original trio's surviving descendants, along with archival recordings of Maybelle and Sara, is thrilling.

Post Defiance

An incredible story that strikes at the heart of country music and its preservation.

Elmore Magazine

Crafted like a great country song, full of love, heartbreak, triumph, loss and redemption.

Berkshire Fine Arts

Concise and informative...Entertaining.

Cleveland Movie Blog

Simply put, it is the greatest documentary about musicians I have ever seen.

Louis Proyect

A loving, musical look at the path carved by the family, whose music influenced a young Johnny Cash.

Cleveland Magazine


Oregon Live

A long-term labor of love, the film will be of interest to anyone with even a passing interest in country music.


Not only a fascinating historical excavation of a family's enormous contribution to American music, The Winding Stream is also visually stunning.

She Shreds

The family's contribution to country, folk, and roots music is vast.

Art Fuse

This is a story for the ages.

The Real Easy Ed

A fascinating look at one family's experience at the heart of what we now call country music.

Connect Savannah

The first non-fiction feature to offer a definitive look into the history, legacy and ongoing worldwide influence of Virginia's famed Carter Family.

Do Savannah