Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Black Diamonds A film about WV coal with a local twist

Variety of new books, articles focus on mining damage

Black Diamonds Movie

March 11, 2006
Photos by Vivian Stockman
Mountaintop removal and the fight for coalfield justice

Years of work by sisters Catherine and Ann Pancake culminated March 11, 2006 as the South Charleston Museum hosted the world premiere of Black Diamonds: Mountaintop removal and the fight for coalfield justice.

About 125 people attended the premier of this documentary--still a work in progress, with film festival entries coming this summer. West Virginia's mine safety hero, former Congressman Ken Hechler (also an OVEC member!) was the only politician in the audience. The admission price was $2; the $250 raised went to the widows of the Jan 1, 2006 Sago Mine Disaster.

Catherine first contacted OVEC in 2002 about her documentary project. Over the years, we helped Catherine is various small ways--so were quite excited to see the results of the Pancake sisters' work.  Several OVEC members appear in the film, which heavily features OVEC organizer Maria Gunnoe and Coal River Mountain Watch's Judy Bonds. As the final credits rolled, with thanks to many familiar people and groups, the audience rose to give the film a standing ovation.

Here are a few of pictures from the evening.

Assorted rebel rousers and even nice regular folks gather outside the theatre.
Assorted rebel rousers and even nice regular folks gather outside the theatre.

OVEC super-volunteer Michael Morrison and Huntington-based painter Chris Worth enter the filling theatre. Former Congressman Ken Hechler is at left middle, at edge of picture.
OVEC super-volunteer Michael Morrison and Huntington-based painter Chris Worth enter the filling theatre. Former Congressman Ken Hechler is at left middle, at edge of picture.

Historian Dr. Fred Barkey give Catherine Pancake the key to the city of South Charleston.
Historian Dr. Fred Barkey give Catherine Pancake the key to the city of South Charleston.

Our story takes to the big screen.
Our story takes to the big screen.

The movie explains the dangers of coal sludge impoundments.
The movie explains the dangers of coal sludge impoundments.

Bill Raney, president of the WV Coal Association gets to have his say.
Bill Raney, president of the WV Coal Association gets to have his say.

Maria Gunnoe addresses the crowd after the film. Event organizer Steve Fesenmaier. ken Hechler and Judy Bonds also spoke that evening.
Maria Gunnoe addresses the crowd after the film. Event organizer Steve Fesenmaier. ken Hechler and Judy Bonds also spoke that evening.

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