Last Mountain, The: Bill Haney’s Ecological Documentary

Bill Haney’s ecological documentary, “The Last Mountain,” depicts the heroic battle of ordinary people to stop a giant corporation from destroying their community’s environment and economy.

World-premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the docu will be released theatrically by Dada in New York and Washington on June 3, and later on in other cities.

Featuring veteran environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., alongside local West Virginia community activists Maria Gunnoe and Bo Webb, as well as other concerned citizens, “The Last Mountain” chronicles a David Vs. Goliath kind of story.  It’s a tale of a dedicated effort to stop major coal corporations from continuing Mountain Top Removal, a mining practice which directly causes health and environmental hazards, not to mention the elimination of local jobs.

The mining and burning of coal is at the epicenter of America’s struggle to balance its energy needs with environmental concerns. Nowhere is that concern greater than in Coal River Valley, West Virginia, where a small but passionate group of ordinary citizens are trying to stop Big Coal corporations, like Massey Energy, from continuing the devastating practice of Mountain Top Removal.

The citizens argue that the practice of dynamiting the mountain’s top off to mine the coal within pollutes the air and water, is responsible for the deaths of their neighbors and spreads pollution to other states. Yet, regardless of evidence supporting these claims, Big Coal corporations repeat the process. Massive profit allows Big Coal to wield incredible financial influence over lobbyists and government officials in both parties, rewrite environmental protection laws, avoid lawsuits and eliminate more than 40,000 mining jobs.

While the intent of the docu is worthy and honorable, its arguments are familiar and, more importantly, its filmic strategy is flawed.  The over all impression is of a director who is not very subtle (or technically skillful), opting for a heavy handed agit-prop feature.

Narrated by William Sadler, the film features original music by composer Claudio Ragazzi and includes the song “Your Control” by Crooked Fingers and Neko Case.

Producer, co-writer, and director Bill Haney wants to show that the concerns of these grassroots protesters have about America’s growing energy demands aren’t local to Appalachia, but affect us all—and our future.  Nonetheless, in propagating its message, “The Last Mountain” is the kind of non-fictional work that hits you over the head with a sledgehammer.

About Bill Haney:

Bill Haney is the founder and president of the eco-housing start up, Blu Homes. “The Last Mountain” was co-written and edited by Peter Rhodes and produced by Clara Bingham and Eric Grunebaum.