Burning The Future Movie Review

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In a way a 21st Century followup to Barbara Kopple’s coal miner classic, Harlan Country USA, Burning The Future: Coal In America chronicles the ongoing battle for dignity and quality of life being waged by the people of the coal mining regions of West Virgina against the greed of encroaching corporations endangering their very continued existence. Director David Novak, in an exhaustive inquiry into a number of heated issues from a variety of points of view, investigates how mountaintop mining – literally the blowing off of the tops of the Appalachian Mountains with explosives to accelerate the emptying of coal resources there – has brought disaster to those ecosystems and surrounding towns of nearly apocalyptic proportions.

The alarming effects of this government sanctioned economic ravaging of those areas, partly under pressure from the global energy crisis, include the massive floods that we hear about all the time on the news, wiping out communities and towns at the foot of those mountains; the ensuing poisoning of the drinking water and streams from the runoff of arsenic and lead, and the related fatal human illnesses and disappearance of the aquatic life; and the eradication of the unique mountain region ecosystem second only to the tropical rainforests.

Burning The Future makes its eloquent case with both compassion and collective rage, allowing the people of West Virginia to speak for themselves as they emerge natural born leaders in response to a looming threat to their very survival, and the survival of their children and future generations to come. If a documentary has the potential to save lives in the apparent absence of concerned and caring authorities, Burning The Future surely stands as an exemplary contribution to determined human advocacy.

Burning The Future: Coal In America is playing at the Landmark Sunshine Theater in NYC and opens at the Town Center 5 in LA on March 7th, followed by a nationwide release. More information is at: BurningTheFuture.org. The documentary will also be televised as part of the Sundance Channel’s series, The Green, beginning Tuesday, May 13th. The Sundance Channel is the first television network in the United States to establish a regularly scheduled program dedicated to the environment.

American Coal Productions

Unrated

4 stars

Prairie Miller is a New York multimedia journalist online, in print and radio, who reviews movies and conducts in-depth interviews. She can also be heard on WBAI/Pacifica National Radio Network’s Arts Express.