Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
BURNING THE FUTURE: COAL IN AMERICA
Directed by: David Novak
Running time: 89 minutes
Screenplay by: David Novak & Richard Hankin
Release date: February 29, 2008 (limited NY)
Distributor: Firefly Pix
MPAA Rating: Not rated
This impressive film examines the conflicts between the coal industry and the residents of West Virginia. It depicts the impact in mountain top removal of coal in the Appalachian Mountain region on its residents.
Despite a devastating, century long legacy that has claimed millions of lives and ravaged the environment, coal has become popular and will remain popular. In this penetrating analysis, director and filmmaker Novak interviews various people living in this environment with compelling testimonies on coal's revival and the shattering myth of cheap coal energy. The hard hitting investigative reporting and industry assessment gives light to the economic imperatives America faces and the collusion of business, politics and ecology.
America's thirst for cheap energy, brings turmoil and present day battles between West Virginia's downtrodden residents and the industry that dominates a region. This dominating industry influences politics at the highest levels of government. Burning the Future: Coal in America explodes with shocking images of the havoc wreaked on people, such as toxic (lead) ground water, the obliteration of 1.4 million acres of mountains and the disposal of carbon dioxide into the air.
The activists in the film are not completely against mountain top mining, but instead what they are focusing on is the safety measures that are not met. The documented evidence of poisonings by Gastrologists and Ecologists should be enough to warrant restrictions by such organizations as the Department of Environmental Protection. However, the industry seems to be too politically powerful to receive these types of restrictions. (In a sense, Homeland Security should be called in, because of the threat it presents to civilians, wildlife and plantlife in America.)
The question and answer interview sessions of the documentary give the pace of the film a spontaneous feeling. Filmmaker Novak captures the genuine thoughts and anguish in these forgotten communities as residents speak their minds. The clarity of the footage gives the viewer a sense of really being there. The film really allows the audience to feel the sense of despair in the activist's attempts to bring recognition to this dilemma.
Few of us realize that we burn a lump of coal every time we flip on a switch. Coal supplies more than half the energy needed to power our iPods, laptops, cellphones and anything we use that needs electricity. Thirty-six percent of America's global warming emissions comes from the 500 plus coal burning power plants that provide the nation with over half of its electricity (this is more than all other sources combined.) With that thought in mind, it is crucial for these problems to be solved in order for the West Virginians to survive.
Burning the Future: Coal in America is a sincere appeal to all who believe in cheap electricity to reexamine their habits and consider the underlying cost to human life.
FILM RATING (B)