Protests in Virginia from "The Last Mountain". Photo by Eric Grunebaum
The Last Mountain
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Bill Haney
"The Last Mountain" is a carefully crafted environmental documentary covering the extensive damage that mountaintop coal removal has caused in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley. Powerful coal companies rule the land in West Virginia. They throw extensive amounts of cash at campaigns to keep officials elected who turn a blind eye to the numerous environmental violations that they commit every year. Over the years large coal mining corporations have systematically broken down the unions—ultimately resulting in the overall loss of jobs, existing workers making less money and working longer hours and an unsustainable and venerable economy. "The Last Mountain" also hones in on the devastating effects that the artificially cheap industry has had on the health of communities—highlighting increased cases of cancer, continual flooding in the region and a process that is contaminating water supplies with arsenic and mercury. Ultimately, "The Last Mountain" serves as a persuasive piece of filmmaking, out to prove that it is impractical to continue investing money into an unsustainable industry. It probably won’t convince the folks that don’t believe in global warming, but the film lays the information out in such a careful and precise way that by its close it is impossible to consider any other alternatives besides changing to a more sustainable alternative.