With the recent wave of social justice and children-competition docs hitting festivals and gaining distribution, it felt a little like some filmmakers were on the prowl to find that new cause, event or under reported problem to expose and then rapidly make a movie about it.
Organically finding a topic, putting in the time to capture it and then telling a strong story was taking a backseat to this formulaic process, which came about after a few successful docs of this nature and with the rise of reality TV. Adams Wood and Francine Cavanaugh’s film ON COAL RIVER has both kids and a cause but their film defies formula and relies solely on intimate, first-person, storytelling.
ON COAL RIVER isn’t the first documentary about mountain top removal mining but its timing, the film’s setting and its characters are what make its stand out from the rest. It’s acutely evident how the people in the film trusted the filmmakers, allowing them total access into their lives and situations. This kind of trust doesn’t come from an out-of-town production company, rolling in with their cameras for three day shoot.
Wood and Cavanaugh became fixtures in this WV community while compiling hundreds of hours of footage over the 6 years it took to shoot and edit their film. From all that they managed to tell four intimate stories and give a sense of what life in West Virginia is like amidst this complicated issue. By choosing not to showcase what Mountain Top Removal literally is, but instead profiling who and how its dramatically affecting the real people in this community who live on the front line of this world-wide issue, makes this film both heartwrenching and powerful. Buy your tickets today.
SPECIAL FREE SCREENING Friday 6/25 4:30PM
Direct from New York City, Reverend Billy and The Mountain Top Choir celebrate the World Premiere screening of ON COAL RIVER with an outdoor performance on the Heavenly Blue Staircase, downtown Silver Spring plaza.
— Rod Murphy lives with his wife and two children in Asheville, North Carolina where he (www.614films.com) produces music videos, corporate videos and independent films. He has won multiple awards and received several grants for his documentary features GREATER SOUTHBRIDGE and RANK STRANGERS.
His work has been screened in over 35 film festivals internationally and seen on PBS, The Sundance Channel and IFC. He is currently in production with actor/producer Andi MacDowell on a new documentary. His third feature documentary, BEING THE DIABLO is premiering on the film festival circuit in the summer of 2010.