I received a screener of Bill Haney‘s The Last Mountain, another evil corporates vs. angry locals doc, just before leaving for Cannes, but I didn’t get to it. I don’t know why I’m not disciplined when it comes to screeners but for some reason I’m not. Only when a movie’s release date is breathing down my neck do I pay attention. It opens in New York this Friday and in Los Angeles on 6.15.
Lewis Beale feels that The Last Mountain “is scarier than any Saw, Alien or Friday the 13th film ever made. It’s a documentary about mountaintop coal removal in West Virginia, starring a group of locals whose environment is slowly turning into toxic sludge and an energy company whose methods are so predatory, they make Wall Street bankers look like acolytes of Mother Teresa.
The doc is “essentially about the fight to stop Massey Energy, a company with more than 60,000 environmental violations from 2000 to 2006, from blasting the top off of Coal River Mountain in a rural area of West Virginia. The fight pits one of America’s largest coal companies, the industry lobbyists it has helped install inside the EPA and a pro-coal governor against a group of local activists with little money and very little political clout.
“The locals see their beautiful, mountainous countryside being turned into a moonscape, and the statistical information the film continually flashes on the screen paints a portrait of a true horror show.
“After seeing Bill Haney’s film, it will be hard for any American to justify the environmental destruction caused by our insatiable need for coal, even though coal-burning power plants provide half of the electricity used in the U.S. One-third of all that coal comes from Appalachia, although the biggest operations in the U.S. are surface mines in Wyoming.
“‘If someone tried to blow up a mountain in Utah or Colorado, they’d be put in jail. Why is that allowed in West Virginia?’ asks environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., who figures prominently in the film. ‘It’s because the public does not know it’s happening,’ he continues. ‘Investigative journalism has disappeared in this country. Americans are the best entertained and least informed people on the planet. If the people really knew, they wouldn’t tolerate it.'”