Bill Haney’s look at the controversial issue of Appalachian mountaintop coal removal, THE LAST MOUNTAIN, is the next US Documentary Competition title in my film-by-film look at the upcoming Sundance doc slate.
Sundance Program Description:
It’s easy to forget that each time we turn on a light, we are contributing to the ecological damage caused by the coal that generates electricity in this country. THE LAST MOUNTAIN gives us plenty of reasons to remember. Contaminated air, soil, and water; coal dust, cancer clusters, and toxic sludge are all by-products of this widespread energy source.
Focusing on the devastating effects of mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, filmmaker Bill Haney illustrates the way residents and activists are standing up to the industry and major employer that is so deeply embedded in the region. With strong support from Bobby Kennedy Jr. as well as grassroots organizations, awareness is rising in the battle over Appalachian mountaintop mining. Forces are aligning to prevent coal removal on Coal River Mountain and preserve the region’s precious natural resources. Superb storytelling and exquisite photography combine to remind us that this environmental calamity impacts us all.
In the documentary world, Director Bill Haney is probably best known for THE PRICE OF SUGAR, which premiered at SXSW in 2007, where it picked up the Audience Award in the fest’s Emerging Visions section. THE LAST MOUNTAIN also has strong support from some familiar names. In addition to Bobby Kennedy Jr, who figures prominently in the film, its Executive Producer is Walt Disney’s great-nephew, Tim Disney, who worked with Haney on his previous projects.
Why You Should Watch:
The film provides a comprehensive and critical look into the controversial practice and its history, which became legal after the Bush administration made changes to existing environmental protection laws. Significantly, unlike many films dealing with similar controversial issues, Haney is able to secure the participation of coal industry representatives, which allows him to present both sides of the debate.
For screening dates and times at Sundance, click the link in the first paragraph above. The film also has a website which includes an email list sign-up to keep you updated on future screenings.