ABOUT THE FILM

About Black Diamonds

To book Black Diamonds for screening contact BullFrog films or email blackdiamondsinfo@gmail.com.


Black Diamonds charts the on-going story of citizen efforts to curb or stop large scale coal surface mining in Appalachian states.

Maria Gunnoe - Mountaintop Removal

Citizen Activist Maria Gunnoe

These mammoth operations have covered over1200 miles of headwater streams with mining waste; demolished thousands of acres of hardwood forest; and flattened over 480 Appalachian mountain peaks. Citizen testimony and visual documentation interwoven with the perspectives of government officials, activists, and scientists create a riveting portrait of an American region fighting for its life--caught between the grinding wheels of the national appetite for cheap energy and an enduring sense of Appalachian culture, pride, and natural beauty.

 

The film contains citizen video footage from as far back as 1997documenting intense blasting in local neighborhoods in Blair, WV and picks up the thread of the legal battle from 1998 to 2005. The film's approach includes a wide range of testimony from local citizens mixed with community meetings, and various dramatic turning-points including the disastrous 2001 floods, major MTR legal decisions, the tragic death of a child from an errant boulder dislodged from a strip mine site, safety issues at Marsh Fork Elementary, and the beginning civil disobediance push of Mountain Justice Summer. Black Diamonds is notable for its chorus of local voices showing the diversity and range of problems from a regular citizen point of view corroborated by scientific research and expert testimony. We are extremely grateful to Bob Gates for his early and inspiring work on this issue including "For the Land and the People," "All Shook Up," and "Mucked." Some of his foundational blasting interviews are excerpted in Black Diamonds.

 

The Film Crew:

Catherine Pancake

Producer/Director

 

Ann Pancake

Research/Interviews

 

 

Black Diamonds Sound Design and Music
The sound track for Black Diamonds is a unique mix of contemporary and traditional artists. Many of these artists contributed music to this film on a volunteer basis due to their support of the documentary's themes.

Original and untilted works by
Jack Rose
Jack, residing in SoWest VA, was so moved by my stories of the folks in WV dealing with mountaintop mining that he produced an instrumental piece entitled "Mountaintop Lamento" regarding the practice.

 

"Curandera"
Performed by Susan Alcorn

Curandera, Uma Sounds, 2003

 

 "Twin Beam"
Performed by Susan Alcorn
Curandera, Uma Sounds, 2003

 

 "Broken Obelisk"
Performed by Susan Alcorn
Curandera, Uma Sounds, 2003

 

 "That 25 Cents That You Paid"
Performed by Sarah Gunning
Courtesy of Rounder Records

 

 "Procession of Cherry Blossoms"
Performed by Six Organs of Admittance
Courtesy of Ben Chasny

 

 "Home"
Performed by Six Organs of Admittance
Courtesy of Ben Chasny

 

 "I Am a Poor Pilgrim of Sorrow"
by the Old Regular Baptists from the recording entitled Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways, SF40094, © 2002

 

 "High on a Mountain"
by Ola Bella Reed from the recording entitled Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways, SF40094, © 2002

 

 "Moonshiner"
by Roscoe Holcomb from the recording entitled Classic Mountain Songs from Smithsonian Folkways, SF40094, © 2002

 

“Red Rocking Chair”
Performed by Diane Jones and Hubie King
From the recording There Are no Rules

 

“Baby O/Stillhouse”
Performed by Diane Jones and Hubie King
From the recording There Are no Rules

 

Vic Rawlings, Banjo
Recorded by Mike Bullock at Plus One Studio, Somerville, MA

Incidental Guitar by Andy Hayleck

 

 

 

 


Selected Press & Reviews

  • Educational Media Reviews Online
    By Charles Burkart, Media Bibliographer, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
    3/20/2007
    Read the review of Black Diamonds
  • The Washington Post
    Article by Ann Hornaay
    11/26/06
    Washington, DC
    View Article
  • Baltimore City Paper "Tragic Mountains" Article by Bret McCabe 3-29-06 Baltimore, MD View Article
  • The Roanoke Times "Film explores issues surrounding mountaintop removal" Article by Tim Thorton 4-9-06 Roanoke, VA
    View Article

 

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