Uncommon Productions Presents - The Last Mountain

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Uncommon Productions Presents - The Last Mountain

    Uncommon Productions and DADA Films


    A Film by Bill Haney

    World Premiere 2011 Sundance Film Festival

    Opens in Theaters June 2011

    Publicity: Distribution and Marketing: Los Angeles Dada Films

    Fredell Pogodin & Associates MJ Peckos Fredell Pogodin /Bradley Jones (310)273-1444 (323)931-7300

New York required viewing

    FALCO INK Steven Raphael

    Shannon Treusch/Janice Roland/Erin Bruce (212)206-0118 (212)445-7100

Washington, DC

    Jamie Shor

    PR Collaborative

    (202) 339-9598

    95 minutes • Rated PG


    In the valleys of Appalachia, a battle is being fought over a mountain. It is a battle with severe consequences that affect every American, regardless of their social status, economic background or where they live. It is a battle that has taken many lives and continues to do so the longer it is waged. It is a battle over protecting our health and environment from the destructive power of Big Coal.

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.

David, himself, never faced a Goliath like Big Coal.

    The citizens argue 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 daily in the name of profit. 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, all while claiming to be a miner‟s best friend. As our energy needs

    increase, so does Big Coal‟s control over our future. This fact and a belief that

    America was founded on the democratic principal that no individual or corporation owns the air and water and we all share the responsibility of protecting it, drives these patriotic citizens and their supporters from outside of Appalachia, like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to keep fighting.

    A passionate and personal tale that honors the extraordinary power of ordinary Americans who fight for what they believe in, THE LAST MOUNTAIN shines a light on America‟s energy needs and how those needs are being supplied. It is a fight for our future that affects us all.

    Written, directed and produced by Bill Haney, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and 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. 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.



    The central front in the battle for America‟s energy future, with enormous consequences for the health and economic prospects of every citizen, is the fight for Appalachian coal. In valleys and on mountaintops throughout the heart of the eastern seaboard, the coal industry detonates the explosive power of a Hiroshima bomb each and every week, shredding timeless landscapes to bring coal wealth to a few, and leaving devastated communities and poisoned water to many. With politicians siding with their corporate donors, it falls to a rag tag army of local activists to stand alone for the welfare of their families, their heritage and for a principled and sound energy future. Our film is their film the uplifting story of the power of ordinary citizens to remake the future when they have the determination and courage to do so. Bill Haney


Coal Facts

    *Almost half of the electricity produced in the U.S. comes from the burning of coal.

    *Sixteen pounds of coal is burned each day for every man woman and child in the US.

*Thirty-percent of that coal comes from the mountains of Appalachia.

*Burning coal is the number one source of greenhouse gases worldwide.

The Destruction:

     *Mountain top removal has destroyed 500 Appalachian mountains, decimated 1 million acres of forest, and buried 2000 miles of streams.

The Company:

    * Massey Energy is responsible for more mountaintop removal mining than any other company in the U.S. [Massey agreed to be purchased by Alpha Natural Resources in mid-2011.]

    *Massey Energy is America's 3rd largest coal company by revenue, and it controls all the coal mining in Coal River Valley.

    *Between 2000 and 2006 Massey committed more than 60,000 environmental violations according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The Waste:

    *There are 312 coal sludge impoundments in Appalachia.

    *Massey's 28 impoundments have spilled 24 times in the last decade, contaminating rivers with more than 300 million gallons of sludge; two times the amount released in BP's Gulf oil disaster.

The Jobs:

    *In the last 30 years the coal industry in West Virginia has increased production by 140% while eliminating more than 40,000 jobs.

    *The wind industry in the U.S. already operates more than 35,000 turbines, and employs 85,000 people-- as many as work in the coal industry.


The Political Influence:

    *In the last decade the coal mining industry spent more than $86 million, the railroad industry spent $350 million and coal burning electric utilities spent more than $1 billion on political campaigns and lobbying.

The Health Impact:

    * The health and environmental costs associated with mining, transporting and burning coal, as reported by a new Harvard Medical School study, are estimated to be $345 billion annually or

    more than 17? per kilowatt hour. These costs are often referred to as “externalities” since they

    are costs borne by the public which are not reflected in the price of coal-fired electricity.

    *There are 600 coal-fired power plants across the U.S., and over 600 ash ponds across the country, filled with 150 billion gallons of toxic sludge.

    *Each year emissions from coal-fired power plants contribute to more than 10 million asthma attacks, brain damage in up to 600,000 newborn children and 43,000 premature deaths.

    *The EPA has announced that in 48 states, it‟s unsafe to eat many freshwater fish due to mercury contamination.

    Electricity Costs from Wind and Coal Sources vs. the True Cost of Coal Electricity * 7.9? typical cost of electricity from wind per kilowatt hour

* 6.1? typical cost of electricity from coal per kilowatt hour

    * Per the Harvard Medical School report noted above, the cost of coal electricity goes up by approximately 17? per kilowatt hour, totaling 23.1? or nearly three times that of wind if you

    include the following costs borne by the public: Air Pollution Illnesses, Mercury Poisoning, Health Damages from Carcinogens, Public Health Cost to Appalachia and Climate Change Impact.

Supplying the U.S. with Wind Power

    * The Wind Industry operates more than 35,000 turbines and employs 85,000 people in the U.S. the same number the coal industry employs. In 2009, enough turbines were built to power 2.4 million homes.

    * In 1991, the Department of Energy published a "National Wind Resource Inventory" which pointed out that three states Kansas, North Dakota and Texas have enough harnessable

    wind energy to supply the nation‟s electricity needs. However, since the report was based on 1991 wind technologies and turbines are so much more efficient today, we now know that the DOE‟s projection was a gross underestimate.

    *According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, a Renewable Portfolio Standard of 20% by 2020 would create: 185,000 new jobs from development, $25.6B in income to farmers, ranchers and rural landowners and $10.5B in electricity and natural gas savings to consumers by 2020.



    BILL HANEY Producer/ Director/ Writer

    Bill Haney has written, produced and directed award winning documentary and narrative features for ten years. He is co-founder of Uncommon Productions.

    His most recent feature documentary, The Price of Sugar, which he wrote, produced and

    directed, was short-listed for an Academy Award?, nominated for the NAACP‟s Image Award

    and was the recipient of numerous other honors, including the Gabriel Award and the Audience Award at South by Southwest.

    For PBS, he produced The Road to Reconciliation covering Northern Ireland‟s Troubles and

    highlighting the contributions of victims towards peace. Also for PBS he wrote, produced and directed Gift of the Game in which U.S. baseball players retrace a league founded by Ernest Hemingway in 1940s Havana while exploring U.S./Cuban relations.

    The documentary A Life Among Whales, which he directed and produced, takes a look at one man‟s lifelong passion for the wild and won numerous awards including a Silver Hugo and the Earthwatch Film Award. His feature documentary Racing Against the Clock won the Mass

    General Hospital/Harvard Medical School Humanitarian Award and the Humanitarian Prize from the Senior Olympics.

    Dramatic feature films written and produced by Haney include Tempesta, starring Malcolm

    McDowell; Crusade A March Through Time, starring Emily Watson and winner of major prizes for Best Children‟s Film of the year in Toronto, Chicago and Dublin; and American Violet. The

    latter premiered at the 2008 Telluride Film Festival, won the Audience Award for Best Feature at The Mill Valley Film Festival, the national Excellence Award from the ACLU and was released in 2009 by The Samuel Goldwyn Company.

    In addition to filmmaking, Haney is founder of the eco-housing startup Blu Homes, using advanced technology to make housing greener, healthier and more affordable. He is also chairman of World Connect, a non-profit supporting programs to help women and children in 400 developing world villages.

PETER RHODES Writer/ Editor

    Trained at the BBC in London, Peter Rhodes is a veteran editor of documentaries for PBS, the BBC and major film festivals, with over 50 credits since 1986. His recent work includes Inside

    the Meltdown for FRONTLINE; The Price of Sugar, short-listed for an Oscar? in 2008 for

    Uncommon Productions; Typhoid Mary: The Most Dangerous Woman in America for NOVA

    and The War that Made America, which both won Cine-Golden Eagle awards; Harvest of Fear,

    a FRONTLINE/NOVA co-production which won a Dupont-Columbia Award in 2001; and The

    People v. Leo Frank, PBS, which won a Special Jury Prize at the 2010 History Maker‟s

    Conference. Additional credits for FRONTLINE include Let’s Get Married, Real Justice, Diet

    Wars and for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Reconstruction, Public Enemy #1, Houdini and Race

    for the Superbomb. For Uncommon Productions, Rhodes also edited A Life Among Whales,

    Racing Against the Clock and Gift of the Game, which won “Best of the Fest” at the Woods Hole

    Film Festival.


    An award winning journalist and author, Clara Bingham is a former Newsweek White House correspondent and the author (with Laura Leedy Gansler) of Class Action: The Landmark Case


that Changed Sexual Harassment Law (Doubleday 2002). Bingham‟s book was adapted into

    the 2005 film North Country (Warner Bros.), staring Charlize Theron and Frances McDormand. Both actresses received Oscar? nominations for their roles. Class Action was a Los Angeles

    Times Best Book of the Year and won the AAUW Speaking Out For Justice Award. Bingham is also the author of Women on the Hill: Challenging the Culture of Congress (Times

    Books 1997), and she has written for many publications including Vanity Fair, Vogue, Harper‟s Bazaar, Talk, The Washington Monthly, Ms., and United Press International. She is currently a contributor to The Daily Beast.

    While reporting a story in West Virginia, Bingham, a Kentucky native, witnessed the destructive effects of mountaintop removal coal mining for the first time. Ever since, she has dedicated her time and energy to producing THE LAST MOUNTAIN.


    Eric Grunebaum has written, produced and directed documentary films and other media for 20 years. For Uncommon Productions he co-produced the documentaries Racing Against the

    Clock and A Life Among Whales, and he produced the theatrically released documentary feature The Price of Sugar, which was short-listed for the Academy Awards? and nominated for an

    NAACP Image Award.

    Previously, Grunebaum was a lead producer, director and writer for museum projects at the Chedd-Angier-Lewis Production Co. His media exhibits have been installed at cultural, art and science museums nationwide including Ellis Island, the Portland Museum of Art and the Cranbrook Institute of Science.

    Grunebaum has hiked in New England since he was young and has a strong connection to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, part of the Appalachians. He finds it inconceivable that the form of mineral extraction and destruction seen in THE LAST MOUNTAIN would be permitted anywhere else in the U.S.

TIM DISNEY Executive Producer

    Tim Disney is the executive producer of Uncommon‟s documentaries The Road to

    Reconciliation, Gift of the Game, Racing Against the Clock, A Life Among Whales and The Price

    of Sugar.

    His feature credits include co-writer of Oliver and Company, an animated children‟s film, and

    producer of The Giving, which was a gold prize winner for Best First Feature at the 1992 Houston WorldFest.

    He directed A Question of Faith, selected for the 2000 Sundance Film Festival, and Tempesta, a

    Venice art world thriller based on the novel by Juan Manuel de Prada.

    His most recent feature credit as a director, American Violet, premiered at the Telluride Film

    Festival in 2008, won the Audience Award for Best Feature at The Mill Valley Film Festival and was released in 2009 by The Samuel Goldwyn Company. He is currently at work developing a play, several feature projects and has just completed a short film, Southbound.


    Sarah Johnson Redlich is an environmentalist, philanthropist and educational activist. She has executive produced social issue documentaries including Living in Emergency: Stories of

    Doctors Without Borders which was short-listed for the Best Documentary Oscar? and two


films which premiered at Sundance, Connected: An Autobiography About Love, Death &

    Technology and Miss Representation, which explores media representations of women and

    their corresponding under-representation in positions of power. Redlich also spearheaded the drive to establish a new conservation biology department at St. Lawrence University and build a $60M state-of-the-art science facility based on principles of sustainable design. A former Portfolio and Operations Manager for Franklin Templeton Investments, she is active on the boards of St. Lawrence, the Aspen Science Center and Conservation International, among others.

TIM ROCKWOOD Executive Producer

    Tim Rockwood has helped produce coverage of international sporting events and critical social issues for 30 years. His credits include the Winter and Summer Olympics for ABC Sports; NBA Basketball and the Goodwill Games for Turner Broadcasting; the FIFA World Cup for German television; the Women's Health Alliance news reports for ABC Television stations; Discovery Health Channel's launch; and Avoiding Armageddon, the eight-hour PBS series on weapons of

    mass destruction hosted by Walter Cronkite. In addition to co-founding Solid Ground Films with Clara Bingham and executive producing THE LAST MOUNAIN, Rockwood is producer of the recent documentary feature The Motherland Tour: A Journey of African Women with

    Yvonne Chaka Chaka.


    Laura Longsworth is a producer and director who has played significant roles in the making of nearly a dozen documentaries for PBS, primarily for the history series AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and the public affairs series FRONTLINE. Most recently, she directed and produced Luckey, a film for the Sundance Channel about a family coping with a devastating accident, and she produced The People v. Leo Frank, a film for PBS about a young Jewish man

    who was lynched in Georgia in 1915. For AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, Longsworth produced Golden Gate Bridge and Gold Rush, which won the Erik Barnouw Prize from the Organization

    of American Historians for its telling of the chaotic pursuit of wealth in 19th century California. Work for FRONTLINE includes associate producing Inside The Terror Network

    (winner of a Columbia-DuPont gold baton) and Let’s Get Married, an essay-style documentary

    about some of America‟s poorest citizens.

JERRY RISIUS Cinematographer

    Raised on an Iowa farm, Jerry Risius served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador in the mid-1980s, and began working as a director of photography in New York in the early „90s. Most

    recently, he field produced and shot the Emmy nominated documentary The Devil Came On

    Horseback and he shot much of HBO‟s Brave New Voices and the soon to be released Mann v.

    Ford. He also shot The Price of Sugar for Uncommon Productions and two IDA Documentary of

    the Year projects: Our Brand is Crisis and A Walk to Beautiful, which also won an Emmy for

    Best Informational Documentary (Long Format) for PBS/NOVA. His 20-year career is dedicated to documentary filmmaking and he has worked extensively with PBS (Nature, FRONTLINE, Independent Lens, NOVA, POV), HBO, Showtime, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and UNICEF, among others. He is also a professor in the new MFA program in Social Documentary at the School of Visual Arts in New York. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughters.

STEPHEN McCARTHY Cinematographer


    Stephen McCarthy is a Boston-based director of photography with over 25 years' experience in non-fiction filmmaking. His work appears regularly in prime-time documentary series on PBS, HBO, Discovery, BBC, Channel Four Television and more.

    Recently completed work includes Digital Nation for FRONTLINE, My Lai for AMERICAN

    EXPERIENCE, Master Class/Rehearsing A Dream for HBO and Faces of America with Dr.

    Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for PBS.

    For director Marco Williams, McCarthy shot Banished which screened in the 2007 Sundance

    Film Festival's documentary competition. He is currently shooting a biography of President William Jefferson Clinton for AMERICAN EXPERIENCE.

TIM HOTCHNER Cinematographer

    Tim Hotchner has produced, directed and filmed more than 100 productions ranging from commercials to feature films. Prior to THE LAST MOUNTAIN, Hotchner wrote, directed and shot the highly acclaimed feature documentary Accelerating America.

    Other credits include award-winning films for Americares which tell stories from

    Guatemala, Darfur and the post-tsunami relief effort in Indonesia, work for the Safewater Network, Newman's Own Foundation and The Hole in the Wall Gang. His work has aired on The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Jane Pauley Show, CBS Sunday Morning, Larry King Live, Bravo Profiles and the Fox Movie Channel. He also produced segments for the documentary Tell Them Who You Are. In addition, he was a

    cinematographer for Uncommon's The Price of Sugar and HBO's Behind the Scenes of

    Empire Falls. Hotchner is a graduate of Brown University and is currently studying painting and sculpture at the Arts Student League in NYC.


    For over 15 years, Argentinean Claudio Ragazzi has composed for film and television and performed with respected musicians including Yo Yo Ma and Mili Bermejo. His work includes elements of jazz, Latin American and classical guitar traditions. His score for Next Stop

    Wonderland (Miramax) was on Billboard‟s charts for three months and his score for the feature

    The Blue Diner blended Cuban and modern urban sounds. Ragazzi has scored numerous programs for Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, National Geographic, Telemundo, and PBS

    including Sesame Street, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and NOVA. Ragazzi also scored Uncommon films Gift of the Game and The Price of Sugar.

UNCOMMON PRODUCTIONS - Founded in 2000 by Tim Disney and Bill Haney,

    Uncommon Productions has built a reputation for producing quality, thought-provoking and engaging films. Since its inception it has produced four feature films and five documentaries. Feature films include American Violet which premiered at the 2008

    Telluride Film Festival, won the Audience Award for Best Feature at The Mill Valley Film Festival, the national Excellence Award from the ACLU and was released in 2009 by The Samuel Goldwyn Company; and Crusade A March Through Time starring Emily Watson

    and winner of the major prizes for Best Children‟s Film of the year in Toronto, Chicago and Dublin. Documentary films include The Price of Sugar, which was short-listed for an

    Oscar?, nominated for the NAACP‟s Image Award and received numerous other honors, including the Audience Award at South by Southwest; A Life Among Whales recipient of

    the Earthwatch Film Award, Silver Hugo Award and more than a half a dozen others; and the crowd-pleasing Racing Against the Clock winner of the Mass General


    Hospital/Harvard Medical School Humanitarian Award. For more information visit

And featuring in order of appearance as credited:

     BILL RANEY, president of the West Virginia Coal Association which represents more than 90 percent of underground and surface coal mining production in the state, calls his constituency “practicing environmentalists” and feels that protecting jobs is his top priority. Raney says, "I‟ve got people who depend on mining coal… [T]hey‟re making electricity for you.”

     BO WEBB is a Vietnam veteran, a coal miner‟s son and a former tool-and-die

    shop owner in Cleveland who moved back to his family home in West Virginia in 2001. Webb‟s hopes for a peaceful retirement of hunting and fishing were never realized. Instead, he found that his property, homesteaded by his family in the 1830s on the banks

    of the Coal River, was under siege by a coal company‟s blasting of a mountain ridge right above his house. In 2004, Webb co-founded the grassroots environmental group Mountain Justice Summer. He has organized dozens of protests and acts of civil disobedience, has been arrested himself five times for his efforts to save Coal River Mountain from obliteration and feels that “Coal River Mountain stands as a symbol of

    what could be, and what the future of America not just Appalachia but what the

    Los Angeles Times and future of America can hold.” In 2010 Webb was profiled in the

    awarded the Purpose Prize.

     MARIA GUNNOE lives at the mouth of a narrow valley (“hollow”) in Boone County,

    West Virginia. Severe flooding on her property began soon after the 1,200 acre Jupiter surface mine started removing the ridge above Gunnoe‟s ancestral home in 2000. The flooding

    continued on a regular basis and catapulted Gunnoe, a waitress and mother of two, into action. The daughter, granddaughter and sister of coal miners, Gunnoe now works full time for the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) and has become one of Appalachia‟s most potent

    Goldman spokespeople and persuasive community activists. In 2009, she was awarded the Environmental Prize. Gunnoe believes that the flattening of 500 mountains in Appalachia is destroying not just the mountains but Appalachia‟s communities, culture and rich heritage.

     MICHAEL SHNAYERSON is a contributing editor of Vanity Fair and author of

    Coal River (2008), a book about Massey Energy and mountaintop removal coal mining in the Coal River Valley.

     JOE LOVETT, founder and executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment, has fought on behalf of dozens of communities across West Virginia whose health, property and livelihoods have been damaged and polluted by large coal companies. He has served as counsel in landmark legal cases challenging coal mining practices.


    Lovett's work has resulted in the contribution of millions of dollars to the West Virginia Coal Mining Special Reclamation Fund. Lovett was interviewed on the Diane Rehm Show in 2010.

     DR. ALLEN HERSHKOWITZ is a Senior Scientist at the Natural Resources

    Defense Council and holds a doctorate in resource economics. His work at the NRDC focuses on issues of sustainable development and industrial ecology in particular how forests are

    affected by development.

     DAVID AARON SMITH, from Louisiana, is a member of Climate Ground Zero.

    He has participated in a number of protests including a tree-sit in January 2009 when he and two others perched themselves 60 feet up in three trees just yards from explosives, in a bid to prevent Coal River Mountain from being blown up for the coal underneath.

     ROBERT F. KENNEDY, Jr.’s reputation as a defender of the environment stems

    from a litany of successful lawsuits against polluters. Kennedy was named one of Time Magazine‟s “Heroes for the Planet” for helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group's achievement has spawned more than 200 Waterkeeper organizations on six continents. Kennedy is Chief Prosecuting Attorney for Hudson Riverkeeper, President of the Waterkeeper Alliance and Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council. He is also a Professor at Pace University School of Law and co-director of the Law School‟s

    Environmental Litigation Clinic. Kennedy has been widely published in periodicals and written several books, include the New York Times‟ bestseller Crimes Against Nature (2004), which

    calls into question the environmental policies of the US. In 2009 Kennedy was named one of Rolling Stone's "100 Agents of Change."

     JACK SPADARO is the former director of the National Mine Health and Safety

    Academy, and he served as a mine safety expert for the U.S. Departments of Labor and Interior for 30 years. He is often retained as an expert witness for environmental groups in lawsuits relating to mine health and safety and mining related environmental issues.

     DR. BEN STOUT III is a professor of biology at Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia. He became involved in the issue of mountaintop removal mining when he was asked to testify about stream ecology in a lawsuit over the legality of filling valleys with the rubble from mine sites. Since then, Dr. Stout has become a major scientific advocate for locals who contend that their water supplies have been ruined by mountaintop removal mining and other industrial mining activities nearby their communities.

     JENNIFER HALL-MASSEY lives in Prenter, West Virginia, just 36 miles outside of the capital, Charleston. Her small town has lost six neighbors to brain tumors, including Hall-Massey‟s 29-year-old brother. According to a Sept. 2009 New York Times article “tests showed

    that their well water contained toxic amounts of lead, manganese, barium and other metals that


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