Thursday, September 14, 2006

Documentary: Black Diamonds (Lexington, Spetember 27th)

A new documentary film, Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal and the Fight for Coalfield Justice, will premiere in Lexington on September 27th at 7:00 p.m. at the University of Kentucky’s Taylor Education Building auditorium located at the corner of Upper and Scott Streets.

Black Diamonds, by sisters Ann and Catherine Pancake, explores the transformation of our nation’s oldest mountain ranges, presenting a survey of West Virginia surface mining and mountaintop removal practices and how they affect the land and people. A riveting portrait of community resistance, this 70-minute film shows an American region fighting for its life, caught between the national appetite for cheap energy and an enduring sense of Appalachian culture, pride, and natural beauty. Black Diamonds includes testimony from Julia Bonds, West Virginia citizen turned activist who received the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2003. Ken Hechler, former West Virginia Secretary of State, William Maxey, former Director of West Virginia Division of Forestry, and many other West Virginia citizens also share their experiences and expertise.

The film was written, directed, and produced by West Virginia natives Catherine and Ann Pancake. Catherine is an experienced filmmaker whose work has been screened at The Baltimore Museum of Art, the Philadelphia International Film Festival, and New York City’s Millennium Theater among other venues. She won a Maryland States Arts Council Individual Artist award for Black Diamonds. Ann Pancake is a writer who explores cultural conflict in contemporary West Virginia in her fiction and non-fiction. In 2004 she was awarded a Pushcart Prize.

Following the screening, Catherine Pancake will discuss her film with the audience. Erik Reece, UK English instructor and author of the critically acclaimed Lost Mountain, a work about mountaintop removal, will introduce Pancake and her film.

Sponsored by the University of Kentucky’s Appalachian Studies Program, the event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. For more information, contact Kate Black at 859-257-4207 or at

“…a searing documentary…mixes history, sociology, advocacy journalism, and personal portraits vividly depicting the catastrophic ecological and cultural effects wrought by mountaintop removal.”—Michael Yockel, Baltimore Magazine, May 2005

“Black Diamonds is the ‘Harlan County USA’ of the 21st century.”—Steve Fesenmeier, writer, film programmer, and WV 2006 Hero of History

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