See this film if you can: “Deep Down,” a new documentary that premieres this week on PBS’s Independent Lens, is a portrait of a small mining community in Kentucky and its contentious internal division over the destructive policy of mountaintop removal. We’ve previewed it. It’s poignant, disturbing, uplifting, and gets right down to the grassroots. (First airing November 23; check local listings.)
“Deep Down” premieres on Tuesday, November 23, at 10:00 P.M (58 minutes). Local schedules may vary. In the Washington, D.C. area, it is scheduled to air on Sunday, November 28, at 10:30 P.M. on WHUT, Maryland Public Television.
Companion website for Deep Down at Emmy award-winning Independent Lens has additional material on the film.
About the film, from the websites:
The film explores the human impact of our voracious appetite for energy through the life of a small town where coal is king.
Beverly May and Terry Ratliff grew up like kin on opposite sides of a mountain ridge in eastern Kentucky. Now in their 50s, the two find themselves in the midst of a debate dividing their community and the world: who controls, consumes, and benefits from our planet’s shrinking supply of natural resources?
At issue is the practice of mountaintop removal mining, in which explosives are used to blow up mountaintops, exposing the seams of coal underneath while destroying communities, cultures, traditions and lives along the way.
While Beverly organizes her neighbors to stop a coal mining company from advancing into her hollow, Terry considers signing away the mining rights to his backyard — a decision that could destroy both of their homes. Their once-peaceful mountain community of Maytown finds itself in the center of a contentious battle over energy and the wealth and environmental destruction it represents.
The policy of mountaintop removal mining often divides communities like Maytown, where neighbors have existed peacefully for generations. While the mining companies provide much-needed jobs in areas with severe economic challenges, they also force people to make the choice between income and the health and safety of their communities. Through the richly nuanced story of Beverly May and Terry Ratliff, Deep Down explores issues of environment, economics, and public policy and culture, revealing the devastating impact of our energy consumption against an explosive backdrop: Appalachia's centuries-old struggle over the black rock that fuels our planet….
Quotes in the film from people in the community:
“All of us in coal-producing communities, we know what the real cost of electricity is.”
“And when you say coal is the only job we have – why is coal the only job we have? You would have thought after 100 years it would have brought some prosperity into this region, instead of destruction.”
“This is the side of capitalism that’s not very pretty. This is America.”
“You don’t regulate an abomination – you stop it.”
“Imagine -- a society that is dependent on blowing up mountain after mountain after mountain. That there’s a group of people who decide to stand up against it – that is exceptional.”
“Floyd County is a little more democratic than it was two days ago. Even though it’s a radical thing to challenge a coal company, we did it.”