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News & Screenings
bev_terry_speakingWelcome to the blog for Deep Down. This is where we post announcements, screening information, and updates about our film, as well as articles and news about related issues.  Check out the full list of upcoming screenings and special events. If you're interested in hosting your own screening, see our host a screening page and please contact us so we can post your screening information here. To stay connected or get involved, join our newsletter (at right).

Reel Power Grassroots Mini-Grant Recipients Announced PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Wednesday, 04 April 2012 19:26

This month, the screenings of "Deep Down" and other Reel Power films begin across the nation.  Check out the "supertrailer" for this collection of powerful environmental films that together, tell a much bigger picture about energy and our relationship to it. 

Deep Down in Belarus with the American Documentary Showcase PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Wednesday, 01 February 2012 12:43

In October of 2011, we had the priviledge of traveling to Belarus to present Deep Down and several excellent American documentaries as part of the U.S. State Department's American Documentary Showcase program.

Deep Down's People Power series at Wild and Scenic Film Fest PDF Print E-mail
Sally Rubin / Tuesday, 17 January 2012 21:22

We're just back from the Wild and Scenic Film Festival's 10th Anniversary festival, where Deep Down's People Power series premiered with its 8th episode, "Mountain Roots."


Mountain Roots is about Carol Judy, a traditional Appalachian wild root digger from Eagan, Tennessee, who supports her family and cures her mother's cancer by gathering ginseng and other roots from her ancestral mountains. When a coal company comes to town and threatens a 10-mile strip, Carol rises as a leader in her community and works to fight the pending mine.


As always, participating in Wild and Scenic's admirable festival was not only a privilege but a total blast. The weekend was graced by such films as Josh Fox's Gasland, the beautiful Buck, and the most recent mountaintop removal mining film to hit big screens, The Last Mountain. Wild and Scenic's mission is to "inspire people and unite communities to heal the earth." It does just that.

We were particularly honored this year to have had the opportunity to screen "Mountain Roots" in the historica Nevada Theater. The film was also nominated for Best Short at the festival. Thank you, Wild and Scenic, and our fans and supporters in the Sierra Nevada mountains, for another terrific year!

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.

A Valentine's Message from Deep Down PDF Print E-mail
Deep Down / Monday, 14 February 2011 22:00
Please turn on your images.

February 14, 2011

 Happy Valentine's Day!
Beverly and the story of Maytown are making an international impact like never before, as Beverly May spent the weekend occupying Kentucky Governor Beshear's office.  Deep Down has sent ripples of hope out into the world, inspiring and motivating millions of people. And neither the film team behind Deep Down or Beverly have stopped with their tireless work to help raise awareness about mountaintop removal. Last month, our collective work had a direct impact, as the EPA acted to put the Spruce mine to a halt.


Kentucky Rising

bevCurrently, Beverly May (star of Deep Down) and her neighbor, Rick Handshoe (also featured in the film), are taking part in a non-violent direct action inside the Kentucky Governor's office with a group of 12 other brave Kentuckians including the acclaimed author, Wendell Berry.  The group has identified itself as 'Kentucky Rising,' and you can see live updates of their 3-day occupation of the Governor's office here: www.kentuckyrising.blogspot.com.
A special profile of Beverly inside the Capitol is here: http://kentuckyrising.blogspot.com/2011/02/update-from-inside-capitol-beverly-may.html.


Word of Beverly, Rick and the courageous actions of the Kentucky Rising group have spread throughout the country and internationally.  Late last night Bill McKibben released a statement of support on his 350.org blog:  http://www.350.org/en/about/blogs/first-egypt-now-frankfort.

I've been hearing from people across America today who are electrified by what's going on in Frankfort. It's about time that people said: "no more business as usual, if that means leveling the mountains of  southern Appalachia.'  And it comes as no surprise that Wendell Berry is in the forefront, as he has been for an entire generation. When the rest of the nation sees the person we most associate with Kentucky taking a stand like this, we pay attention.
-- Bill McKibben


Additional coverage of the event is available on the Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/live-at-the-ky-capitol-on_b_822537.html


You can be a part of this historic event.
Take a moment today and call or email http://www.governor.ky.gov/contact.htm the Governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear.  Tell  Governor Beshear: "I stand with Beverly May and the others in your office.  Please end mountaintop removal and create sustainble jobs for the Eastern Kentucky coalfields."  
Then get your own home copy of Deep Down to share the story of Beverly May and Wilson Creek with your community at http://deepdownfilm.org/store, and encourage the educators you know to use the film and resources in the classroom. Understanding the issue of mountaintop removal and spread awareness is the first step in stopping the destruction.  So thank you, the fans of Deep Down, for the important work you are doing.


Going Global
Co-Directors Sally Rubin and Jen Gilomen are getting ready to travel internationally with the American Documentary Showcase, where we will be spreading a message of democracy, free speech, and the possibilities for local community organizing to international audiences.  The program, funded by the U.S. State Department, is a showcase of the best in American independent filmmaking, and Deep Down is poised to make a dramatic impact in the countries we visit this year. We are deeply honored to be among Oscar and Emmy winning filmmakers and other important films in spreading the values of democracy and community struggles internationally. We are also pleased to announce that Deep Down is a finalist for the Global Social Change Festival in Bali, where we hope to spread this message further.  You can read more on our international efforts and effect on our blog here.


The Deep Down Soundtrack

You can now get the complete and beautiful Deep Down soundtrack, with music from our composer Joshua Penman, here: http://deepdownsoundtrack.bandcamp.com/


Thanks for being our valentines this year.
Jen Gilomen & Sally Rubin, Co-Directors
and the Deep Down team: Lora, Lynn and Jason

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Latest News from Deep Down

Reel Power Grassroots Mini-Grant Recipients Announced

This month, the screenings of "Deep Down" and other Reel Power films begin across the nation.  Check out the "supertrailer" for this collection of powerful environmental films that together, tell a much bigger picture about energy and our relationship to it.