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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Coal Country

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October 02, 2009

Movie Review Friday: Coal Country

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Coal Country (2009)

Coming soon

Coal Country is a brave film. A riveting exploration of the environmental, political, and societal impacts of coal mining in Appalachia, the film focuses on mountaintop removal, a process by which mountains are leveled by explosives so that corporations can scoop up the exposed coal.

Though the film does have an environmental message and isn't afraid to strongly state that this type of mining should not exist, it doesn't shy away from opposing viewpoints. The filmmakers interviewed industry insiders and coal miners, and allowed them to speak for themselves.

The documentary also shows how coal mining harms local communities, as economic development is stunted to keep locals dependent on coal for their livelihoods. The result: The area stays poor, its environment ruined, and more carbon dioxide is emitted. Coal Country also gives voice to activists who have stood up against mountaintop-removal mining even though their stand has made them outcasts in their communities.

The dramatic footage of whole mountains being blown up is as heartbreaking. And the outstanding soundtrack, including the works of musicians Gillian Welch and John Prine, complements the images. This is a must-see for anyone concerned about healthy ecosystems, economic justice, and climate change.

--Kyle Boelte


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