In the words from Mother and Director Francine Cavanaugh: We are documentary filmmakers but parents first. I was four months pregnant when we began filming over 6 years ago in Coal River Valley WV. Our first visit was to the local elementary school and we were blown away by its proximity to a large coal facility plant and looming sludge pond. We were also blown away by the spirit of resistance and resolve of a few individuals who took on the mission to have the school moved to a safer ground as well as taking on the coal industry that has been entrenched in their community for over a hundred years.
Judy Bonds whose story we follow says “I am first a mother and a grandmother and to the young people in the world today I have to say I am sorry for what we have done to your world because this is your planet first”. I feel her words today as our son is now seven and I continue to feel the responsibility to do as much as I can to make this a better world for him and all of the worlds children to live in and I continue to receive inspiration from people like Judy Bonds, Maria Lambert, Ed Wiley, and Bo Webb who are all parents and grandparents first.
ON COAL RIVER takes viewers on a gripping emotional journey into the Coal River Valley of West Virginia — a community surrounded by lush mountains and a looming toxic threat. The film follows a former coal miner and his neighbors in a David-and-Goliath struggle for the future of their valley, their children, and life as they know it.
Ed Wiley is a former coal miner who once worked at a toxic waste facility that now threatens his granddaughter’s elementary school. When his local government refuses to act, Ed embarks on a quest to have the school relocated to safer ground. With insider knowledge and a sharp sense of right and wrong, Ed confronts his local school board, state government, and a notorious coal company — Massey Energy — for putting his granddaughter and his community at risk. Along the way, Ed is supported by his neighbors Bo Webb and Judy Bonds, who have their own problems with Massey Energy. Ex-marine Bo Webb retired to his childhood home only to discover that this once-idyllic valley is being transformed by a company practicing “mountaintop removal” – blowing up mountains to extract coal.
Shot over a five year period, ON COAL RIVER follows the transformation of these four remarkable individuals as they fight for the valley they love and for future generations — making dramatic changes against all odds.
Click here to learn more.
For a limited time you can watch it for free on Snagfilms, click here.
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