Directed by: Anne Lewis
Running Time: 58:40
Strip or “surface” mining – where coal is blasted and scraped from the mountain surface – increased dramatically in the Appalachian region in 1961 when the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) signed contracts to buy over 16 million tons of strip mined coal. Though cheaper for the buyer than deep mined coal, the damage done by strip mining was far reaching and had immediate impact on coalfield residents. To Save the Land and People is a history of the early grassroots efforts to stop strip mining in eastern Kentucky, where “broad form” deeds, signed at the beginning of the 20th Century, were used by coal operators to destroy the surface land without permission or compensation of the surface owner. The program focuses on the Appalachian Group to Save the Land and People, whose members used every means possible – from legal petitions and local ordinances, to guns and dynamite – to fight strip mining. The documentary makes a powerful statement about the land and how we use it, and how its misuse conflicts with local cultures and values.
To Save The Land and People tells the story of resistance in the voices of people who were directly involved and demonstrates the creativity and energy that indigenous and working class people bring to the environmental justice movement.
“A wonderfully human and good humored presentation of a major tragedy. A downright truth-telling of a defeat without despair.” – George Stoney, filmmaker and professor, New York University
“Extraordinarily powerful… deserving of national and international recognition.” -- Herbert Reid, Professor of Political Science, University of Kentucky
“To Save the Land and People is by far the best portrayal of surface mining I have ever seen. A graphic exploration of both conservation and environmental justice" ~ Larry Wilson, Coordinator, Appalachian Focus
“An important contribution to the history of Appalachian resistance...very powerful...one comes away from the film keenly aware of the horrors of strip mining and why people fought back." ~ Steve Fisher, Professsor, The Appalachian Center for Community Service, Emory & Henry College
“Resonates with all the tragedy of the land and the people, and all the integrity of their struggle.” ~ Jude Binder, grassroots environmental activist
Screenings & Festivals
Austin Film Society, Texas Documentary Tour
South By SouthWest Film Festival
Louisville Film & Video Festival - Juror's Award
First Interstate Summit for the Mountains, Pipestem, WV