USA – 2011 – 95 MIN – COLOUR - FEATURE - IN ENGLISH
A FILM BY BILL HANEY
In the valleys of Appalachia, a battle is being fought over a mountain. It is a battle with severe consequences that affect every American, regardless of their social status, economic background or where they live. It is a battle that has taken many lives and continues to do so the longer it is waged. It is a battle over protecting our health and environment from the destructive power of Big Coal.
￼The mining and burning of coal is at the epicenter of America’s struggle to balance its energy needs with environmental concerns. Nowhere is that concern greater than in Coal River Valley, West Virginia, where a small but passionate group of ordinary citizens are trying to stop Big Coal corporations, like Massey Energy, from continuing the devastating practice of Mountain Top Removal.
David, himself, never faced a Goliath like Big Coal.
The citizens argue the practice of dynamiting the mountain’s top off to mine the coal within pollutes the air and water, is responsible for the deaths of their neighbors and spreads pollution to other states. Yet, regardless of evidence supporting these claims, Big Coal corporations repeat the process daily in the name of profit. Massive profit allows Big Coal to wield incredible financial influence over lobbyists and government officials in both parties, rewrite environmental protection laws, avoid lawsuits and eliminate more than 40,000 mining jobs, all while claiming to be a miner’s best friend. As our energy needs increase, so does Big Coal’s control over our future. This fact and a belief that America was founded on the democratic principal that no individual or corporation owns the air and water and we all share the responsibility of protecting it, drives these patriotic citizens and their supporters from outside of Appalachia, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to keep fighting.
A passionate and personal tale that honors the extraordinary power of ordinary Americans who fight for what they believe in, THE LAST MOUNTAIN shines a light on America’s energy needs and how those needs are being supplied. It is a fight for our future that affects us all.
Written, directed and produced by Bill Haney, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder and president of the eco-housing start-up, Blu Homes, THE LAST MOUNTAIN was co-written and edited by Peter Rhodes and produced by Clara Bingham and Eric Grunebaum. Narrated by William Sadler, the film features original music by composer Claudio Ragazzi and includes the song “Your Control” by Crooked Fingers and Neko Case.
The central front in the battle for America’s energy future, with enormous consequences for the health and economic prospects of every citizen, is the fight for Appalachian coal. In valleys and on mountaintops throughout the heart of the eastern seaboard, the coal industry detonates the explosive power of a Hiroshima bomb each and every week, shredding timeless landscapes to bring coal wealth to a few, and leaving devastated communities and poisoned water to many. With politicians siding with their corporate donors, it falls to a rag tag army of local activists to stand alone for the welfare of their families, their heritage and for a principled and sound energy future. Our film is their film – the uplifting story of the power of ordinary citizens to remake the future when they have the determination and courage to do so. – Bill Hane
"In Bill Haney’s thoughtful and elegantly made documentary THE LAST MOUNTAIN, aerial shots of West Virginia’s Coal River Valley provide a stunning perspective of mountaintop removal – an efficient and dramatic surface mining technique to extract coal that is deposited in layers."
- THE GLOBE AND MAIL
"In THE LAST MOUNTAIN, director Bill Haney shows just how uneven the battle in Appalachia is between powerful elites and ordinary folk who struggle to protect their environment, their local communities and their own health and well-being. In fact, Haney persuasively makes the argument that, if anything, things are getting worse."
- THE TORONTO STAR
"...compelling and chilling in equal measures..."
- NOW MAGAZINE
"...footage of activists being dragged out of a government building as they’re stating their case speaks for itself."
- THE GRID
"...will snap people into self-awareness..."
"THE LAST MOUNTAIN is a damning look at Big Coal and its landscape-decimating practices, a litany of disheartening statistics and enraging testimony. But director Bill Haney leavens the lament with a moving portrait of the West Virginia residents who are standing up to the bulldozing — physical and spiritual — to save an Appalachian peak from the fate of its neighbors."
- LA TIMES
"Thoroughly fed up but refusing to give in, the residents of the Coal River valley in West Virginia endure earsplitting explosions, raining boulders, toxic sludge and poisoned wells. Their tormentor is the union-busting, environmental-law-flouting Massey Energy Company and its use of the controversial mining strategy called mountaintop removal. Their solution is a grass-roots campaign to force the company to cease and desist, and Bill Haney’s furious documentary, THE LAST MOUNTAIN is completely on board."
- NEW YORK TIMES
"Vanity Fair Nominates: THE LAST MOUNTAIN"
- VANCITY FAIR
4 Stars! "educates and entertains"
- TORONTO SUN
"Community activism can move mountains. But can it stop them from being moved?"
- THE NATIONAL POST