The Back Row Film Series, presented by the Arts and Education Council, continues with a screening of “On Coal River” on at 6 p.m. on July 14 at Green|Spaces, located at 63 E. Main St.
“On Coal River” is a documentary that has been travelling the country since 2010 displaying the risks of irresponsible mountain-top removal tactics that have plagued Appalachian communities for the last century. Coal River Valley is one such community surrounded by lush mountains and a looming toxic threat. “On Coal River” follows a former coal miner and his neighbors in a David-and-Goliath struggle for the future of their valley, their children and life as they know it. Shot over a five-year period, the film follows the transformation of four remarkable individuals as they fight for the valley they love—and for future generations.
Adding excitement to the occasion, filmmakers Adams Wood and Francine Cavanaugh will be in attendance and lead a question-and-answer session after the film, not only about the controversy over Appalachian coal mining, but also the making of a grassroots documentary film.
“There were a lot of extreme ups and downs along the way in terms of the story, funding, etc.,” explained Cavanaugh. “We really had no idea this would be a six-year project. We kept holding out for a clear ending that seemed to be perpetually just around the corner” added Wood.
Ultimately, they came away triumphantly, picking up 2011’s Best Documentary award from the Appalachian Film Festival.
“We learned what a big impact a committed group of individuals can have. When we started the film, very few people outside of Appalachia were talking about mountaintop removal,” said Cavanaugh.
“On Coal River” is not only furthering that conversation, but also doing it in award-winning style. There will be a reception at 6 p.m., followed by the screening at 6:30 p.m. and the Q&A session with the filmmakers at 7:45 p.m. —Cole Rose