Articles about Deep Down
Deep Down Interview in Belgrave Review PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Wednesday, 06 April 2011 14:44

A Story From the Heart of Coal Country
by Erin, Belgrave Review (March 31st, 2011)

Deep Down: A Story From the Heart of Coal Country takes a look at mountaintop removal in Maytown, eastern Kentucky, where coal is king. The documentary focuses on two Maytown residents who find themselves on opposite sides of the argument when a large coal company makes a move to mine in the area.

We had the great opportunity to ask co-directorsJen Gilomen and Sally Rubin to talk to them their most recent documentary Deep Down. Check out what they had to say!

Q. Deep Down is a very interesting story about an issue that many Americans don’t know much about, yet coal is still the number one source of energy. How did two Californian women end up in eastern Kentucky? What inspired you to write this story?

A. We began with the desire to make a film about industry and socioeconomic class in America, which led us to explore the Appalachian region. Our families are from the mountains of east Tennessee and the small town industrial community of Peoria, Illinois, so we had personal connections to rural working America and the Appalachian region. We were committed to putting a new face on Appalachia, to offer the people of this region a look at their lives through the lens of outside media, that was different than what had been previously offered. We then discovered mountaintop removal coal mining, and knew right away that this was the issue our film would explore. We were looking for a story we could follow from start to finish, and it was then a matter of finding subjects on the cusp of a story who could carry a rich and personal story and provide complex perspectives. In June, 2007, we met Beverly May, who introduced us to her friend Terry, and we were off and running.

Q. What were your main goals with the film? How does it inspire mindfulness around energy consumption and increase demand for alternative energy?

A. We have three main goals for impact: 1) to connect Americans in a new way to Appalachia, its mountains, and its people; 2) to raise awareness of mountaintop removal mining and support related policy; and 3) to inspire mindfulness around energy consumption and increase demand for alternative energy.

Older than the Himalayas and central to the American story, the Appalachian Mountains are unmatched in their ecological diversity and cultural wealth. Global audiences are hungry for environmental stories that delve deeper than the purely scienti?c, political, and stereotypical. Therein lies the potential for a human story, like the story in Kentucky, to reconnect Americans to our own power to affect the future. Deep Downincites debate, motivating people to create change on both a personal level and a global level. By asking us to trace our power lines to people far removed from our daily lives, and by making real human connections between viewers and subjects, Deep Down inspires all Americans to protect Appalachia, our shared legacy, and our planet.

Q. Is it possible to balance economic interests and environmental ones? It’s a difficult argument seeing people choose between the present and future. How did your opinions evolve over filming?

A. Our opinions evolved a lot over the period of filming, and there were really several challenges: being west-coast filmmakers trying to make a long-form cinema verité documentary portrait, which required access and intimacy to tell the story in the way we wanted to tell it, was difficult at times. Gaining the kind of access we wanted — and keeping it — was always hard. We believe that our subjects, always cognizant of our own potential bias and concerned as much about the integrity of the film as we were — kept us on our toes and made us better filmmakers. Additionally, not being from Appalachia ourselves, and being lifelong environmentalists, we definitely initially had a “one-sided” view. When we saw the horrific mountaintop removal mines, our first reaction was to think that it had to stop immediately, without really questioning what was behind this issue, what alternatives were immediately available, and who, ultimately, was responsible for causing this destruction. Once we began uncovering the intricacies of the topic, and how deeply reliant Appalachia is on coal, the film and its message became much more complex.

Q. It’s a complex situation because ultimately the community feels powerless because they are caught up in this huge machine that was built to mine coal. Either way they have to deal with impacts. Can you elaborate?

A. As we enter the twenty-first century, America’s energy consumption is at an all-time peak, expected to double by 2030. 50% of American homes garner 90% of their electricity from Appalachian coal. Coal has always been the root of the Appalachian economy and people are reliant upon this industry to support their families, so eliminating coal is not an option. Finding alternatives to mountaintop removal mining is.

Q. What role does the tight knit culture of the communities play in these decisions confronted by your protagonists Terry and Beverly?

A. Mainly, it just makes it more challenging to make your own decision without being influenced by others. It’s a small community and people talk; people generally know what each other are doing.

Q. The mining companies seem to be praying on the poverty of these communities. What was it like trying to interact with the mining companies in your film?

A. People often ask us whether we attempted to involve the coal company and mining community in our film, and the answer is yes, persistently and through every avenue imaginable. We made contacts at the upper echelons of the mining company through family connections, we called and spoke to them openly, we interviewed and filmed with folks from the industry who ultimately would not participate in the film for fear of losing their jobs. The truth of the matter is, people are afraid of retribution, and we understand why. There are no more coal mining unions in Appalachia to protect these workers. With industrialization, and with giant machinery like a drag line, mining can be done with fewer and fewer people, so competition over jobs becomes all the more intense. Ironically, the fewer jobs there are, the greater a wedge is driven forcing people in a tightly knit community apart, into those who make their living directly or indirectly through mining, and those who suffer the consequences. In the end, we were able to incorporate the voice of a local mining engineer, an old family friend of the Ratliffs, who contributes his own balanced and complex view of mining, and voices of the miners, their families, and company representatives at the public hearings we captured. Although Beverly and Terry provide sometimes opposing and always complex perspectives on coal mining, we do wish the folks from Miller Brothers Coal would have been willing to speak with us so we could include their perspective in the film, but we don’t think their absence detracts too much from the story we were trying to tell, which isn’t ultimately about the company, it is about people in their own lives grappling with the consequences of our consumption of energy.

Q. You made the film very intimately and really picked up on the way in which human beings struggle with themselves and their decisions. Is that something you intended from the start?

A. Yes- and a lot of this had to do with accessing and gaining trust. We gained the trust of our subjects the same way trust is built in any friendship or relationship: by spending time with them, by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable, and by proving ourselves reliable and worthy of their trust. Returning repeatedly to the region for almost three years, and keeping in touch with genuine interest between our visits, showed these folks that we were here to stay, that we weren’t looking to “grab a story” and leave, that we wanted to understand the issue, and that we were willing to spend the time and the resources to do it. In doing so, we had to let go of our own hang-ups, and really, truly listen with love and compassion.

Q. Where can our readers find out more about organizing at a national level?

A. Our organizing with the film has involved partnerships with: the Natural Resources Defense Council, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Appalachian Voices, Mujeres de la Tierra, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Interfaith Power and Light, and the Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship. We suggest that readers start with a local chapter of a national organization working to serve the issue they’re fighting for.

 
Big Mountains, Big Energy PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Monday, 10 January 2011 15:03
Big Mountains, Big Energy
6:30 pm, Thursday, January 13th
The Hollywood Theatre – 4122 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland
Join Us for a Night of Films Exploring Our Use of Coal and its Impact on Mountain Communities.
The nation’s eyes are on the Pacific Northwest as coal companies are lining up to develop major coal export facilities along Oregon and Washington coasts. Crag Law Center and Columbia Riverkeeper invite you to join us on Thursday, January 13th at 6:30 pm, for Big Mountains, Big Energy, an evening of films at the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd). This evening of educational films is sponsored by Next Adventure.  Supporting sponsors include Mr. Sun Solar,  Mountain Khakis and Patagonia. Doors open at 6:05 pm, films start at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or in advance via the Hollywood Theatre website:
www.hollywoodtheatre.org/ Please see below for the evening schedule and detailed descriptions of the films.
Guest panelists will be on hand to discuss the films, including Deep Down filmmaker Jen Gilomen and Columbia Riverkeeper director Brett VandenHeuvel. The event will include a raffle featuring mountaineering and outdoor gear.
CLICK HERE FOR ADVANCED TICKETS!
DEEP DOWN – 6:30pm, 56 minutes
“It’s not true that everyone has a price.” – Beverly May
“Deep Down is–without a doubt–the most moving and insightful film yet on the issue of mountaintop removal and it reveals the complexities of a rogue industry that is threatening much more than trees and mountains, but an entire way of life and the soul of a proud people. This movie provides heroes that can stand as examples in any fight for social justice. Deep Down is hugely intelligent, haunting, and moving. I wish everybody in America could see this film.”-Silas House, author of Clay’s Quilt, Eli the Good, and Something’s Rising
To keep up with our world’s increasing demand for energy, we are mining the earth for natural resources and putting communities worldwide at risk. The documentary film Deep Down tells the story of the human impact of our voracious appetite for energy through the lens of a town deep in the Appalachian mountains of eastern Kentucky, where coal is king. Through a complex human story that cuts across environment, economics, public policy, and culture, the story of Beverly May and Terry Ratliff reveals the devastating impact of our energy consumption against an explosive backdrop: Appalachia’s centuries-old struggle over the black rock that fuels our planet.

6:30 pm, Thursday, January 13th
The Hollywood Theatre – 4122 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland

Join Us for a Night of Films Exploring Our Use of Coal and its Impact on Mountain Communities.

The nation’s eyes are on the Pacific Northwest as coal companies are lining up to develop major coal export facilities along Oregon and Washington coasts. Crag Law Center and Columbia Riverkeeper invite you to join us on Thursday, January 13th at 6:30 pm, for Big Mountains, Big Energy, an evening of films at the Hollywood Theatre (4122 NE Sandy Blvd). This evening of educational films is sponsored by Next Adventure.  Supporting sponsors include Mr. Sun Solar,  Mountain Khakis and Patagonia. Doors open at 6:05 pm, films start at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $10 and are available at the door or in advance via the Hollywood Theatre website: www.hollywoodtheatre.org/

Please see below for the evening schedule and detailed descriptions of the films.
Guest panelists will be on hand to discuss the films, including Deep Down filmmaker Jen Gilomen and Columbia Riverkeeper director Brett VandenHeuvel. The event will include a raffle featuring mountaineering and outdoor gear.

CLICK HERE FOR ADVANCED TICKETS!

 
High Impact Mind Opening Screenings PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Monday, 10 January 2011 12:04
By Dianne Anderson
What exactly do the Appalachia Mountains in the deep down rural coal-mining Kentucky town have in common with low-income Black city folks?
As it turns out, a lot more than either side can imagine.
An upcoming screening explores something that most Americans should be able to relate to by now, no matter their color--powerful energy companies trying to cut a profit and its impact on the poor.
While Appalachia struggles with coal as its primary energy resource, urban areas across America are also dealing with their own energy problems, such as high voltage lines strung across mostly low- income communities, which typically translate to mostly Black and Brown people.
On Tuesday, November 30, the Central Area Association and Long Beach Public Library is sponsoring this month’s screening of “Deep Down,” an exploration of what happens when big business wins favor over communities under the promise of jobs. The community cinema film screening will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the main library.
“It’s important to come out and gain an awareness of how our energy companies are making a profit on our backs,” said Danyel Johnson, who sits on the board with the Central Area Association.
For both whites and Blacks in low income areas, the number one concern lately is scraping by with the basics in life, like food and housing. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to fight the power or the power companies. There’s no time to think about how it impacts them directly.
Johnson is hoping that local African Americans will get out for the documentary, a mind opening experience, and see that energy is more than flipping a switch.  In the coming months, several films are planned to cover high impact social issues in the community.
“It all boils down to profit,” Johnson said. “That is all a corporation is set up to do, and you would like to think that they care about the residents of a particular area.”
Specifically, the film looks at a coal mining corporation and its influence in the largely white Appalachian Kentucky town, and a resulting split between those who need jobs and those who see the company trying to destroy the environment. That community also stands concerned about the subsequent rise of PCB’s levels in city water.
“For the Black community, for all communities, it’s being aware of not just the benefit that you get today by going along with desire for profit, but understanding the long term ramifications,” Johnson adds.
As America runs out of energy resources and jobs, coal mining coming into a place like the Appalachians with the promise of jobs and security sounds great, but at a high price.
She sees a strong correlation today in local communities of color, where there is heavy presence of high voltage power lines along with more traffic into the port of Long Beach that generates more pollution. That, in turn, brings on more asthma and related illness.
“It’s not that far of a leap from Appalachia to low-income southern California,” she said. “Despite what all the hate mongers want to say, this country is based on profit corporations, rich people and poor people.”
Evidence mounts with a variety of studies around the health impact of high voltage lines. Some say the towering power lines are linked to childhood leukemia and other cancers, while some studies are viewed as inconclusive. At least one study draws a correlation between electromagnetic fields and breast cancer.
John Malveaux, president of the Central Area Association, said the film is an important examination of power and money-based struggles that exist from the poorest white rural areas down to the poorest communities of color.
The film highlights the age-old problem of how big companies come in bringing hope of more jobs to poor people, at the same time gaining a foothold to the purchase of land and carry out their mission of exploitation.
“Electrical [power] lines are often located in minority community,” he said. “It speaks to community civic engagement, what a community can do to combat the outside influences of money and power over a community.”

By Dianne Anderson, Long Beach Leader

What exactly do the Appalachia Mountains in the deep down rural coal-mining Kentucky town have in common with low-income Black city folks?

As it turns out, a lot more than either side can imagine.

An upcoming screening explores something that most Americans should be able to relate to by now, no matter their color--powerful energy companies trying to cut a profit and its impact on the poor.

While Appalachia struggles with coal as its primary energy resource, urban areas across America are also dealing with their own energy problems, such as high voltage lines strung across mostly low- income communities, which typically translate to mostly Black and Brown people.

On Tuesday, November 30, the Central Area Association and Long Beach Public Library is sponsoring this month’s screening of “Deep Down,” an exploration of what happens when big business wins favor over communities under the promise of jobs. The community cinema film screening will be held from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the main library.

“It’s important to come out and gain an awareness of how our energy companies are making a profit on our backs,” said Danyel Johnson, who sits on the board with the Central Area Association.

For both whites and Blacks in low income areas, the number one concern lately is scraping by with the basics in life, like food and housing. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to fight the power or the power companies.

There’s no time to think about how it impacts them directly.

Johnson is hoping that local African Americans will get out for the documentary, a mind opening experience, and see that energy is more than flipping a switch.  In the coming months, several films are planned to cover high impact social issues in the community.

“It all boils down to profit,” Johnson said. “That is all a corporation is set up to do, and you would like to think that they care about the residents of a particular area.”

Specifically, the film looks at a coal mining corporation and its influence in the largely white Appalachian Kentucky town, and a resulting split between those who need jobs and those who see the company trying to destroy the environment. That community also stands concerned about the subsequent rise of PCB’s levels in city water.

“For the Black community, for all communities, it’s being aware of not just the benefit that you get today by going along with desire for profit, but understanding the long term ramifications,” Johnson adds.

As America runs out of energy resources and jobs, coal mining coming into a place like the Appalachians with the promise of jobs and security sounds great, but at a high price.

She sees a strong correlation today in local communities of color, where there is heavy presence of high voltage power lines along with more traffic into the port of Long Beach that generates more pollution. That, in turn, brings on more asthma and related illness.

“It’s not that far of a leap from Appalachia to low-income southern California,” she said. “Despite what all the hate mongers want to say, this country is based on profit corporations, rich people and poor people.”

Evidence mounts with a variety of studies around the health impact of high voltage lines. Some say the towering power lines are linked to childhood leukemia and other cancers, while some studies are viewed as inconclusive. At least one study draws a correlation between electromagnetic fields and breast cancer.

John Malveaux, president of the Central Area Association, said the film is an important examination of power and money-based struggles that exist from the poorest white rural areas down to the poorest communities of color.

The film highlights the age-old problem of how big companies come in bringing hope of more jobs to poor people, at the same time gaining a foothold to the purchase of land and carry out their mission of exploitation.

“Electrical [power] lines are often located in minority community,” he said. “It speaks to community civic engagement, what a community can do to combat the outside influences of money and power over a community.”

 
Deep Down mentioned on the HEP spot blog PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Wednesday, 01 December 2010 17:18

"Ethics Beyond Sentience," I discuss mountaintop removal in Appalachia. The new film Deep Down does a very nice job getting into the complexities of the issue for the people who live in Appalachia, and the film actually has a happy ending, insofar as the people in the town/holler targeted for mining got a legal decision that de facto made mining there economically unfeasible. I also just caught wind of an article in Science highly critical of MTR. Another good piece is here. In a way, it's too bad that we need the article in Science magazine to make the practical case against MTR, since although the ecological impact surely matters to the people in those hollers, too, that doesn't seem to be the deeper (or deepest) reason to leave the mountains alone.


Posted on The HEP Spot blog on November 27, 2010

 
Deep Down on the PJStar PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Wednesday, 01 December 2010 17:13

Woodruff grad's film is playing in Peoria

A Peoria native's documentary on mountaintop coal removal will air on local television this weekend, and the director will head home to host a screening and question-and-answer session at a local theater.

Jen Gilomen, a 1994 Woodruff High School graduate who now lives in San Francisco, co-directed "Deep Down: A Story from the Heart of Coal Country." The film will be aired at 11 p.m. Sunday on WTVP-TV, Channel 47, as part of the PBS "Independent Lens" series. Gilomen will screen the documentary at 7 p.m. Saturday at Peoria Theater, Film and Event Center, 3225 N. Dries Lane. A question-and-answer session will follow the 52-minute film, and admission is $8.

"Deep Down" focuses on mountaintop removal coal mining in the Appalachian region. Environmentalists charge that the process has destroyed ecosystems, buried streams and poisoned aquifers with heavy metals and toxins.

 


posted on the pjstar.com: http://www.pjstar.com/news/x1104625121/Woodruff-grads-film-is-playing-in-Peoria

 

 
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