Breaks of the Mountain (Film)

Breaks of the Mountain

  •  Tom Hansell
  •  1999
  • Color IconColor
  •  26:42
  •  Betacam SP video
Film Description
Across America, communities are struggling with questions of development. From the urban sprawl of the Northeast, to the suburbs taking over farmlands in the Midwest, to battles over grazing and water rights in the Southwest and the struggle over clearcutting and wildlife habitat in the Northwest, communities are divided over how to use the limited land resources in our country. In the coalfields of central Appalachia, the struggle for sustainable development is intensified by a legacy of economic dependency on coal mining. The Breaks of the Mountain, Russell Fork Gorge is a half-hour documentary about issues an Appalachian coalmining community faces while developing a tourist economy around a river gorge, focusing on the Russell Fork of the Big Sandy River as it flows from Haysi, Virginia to Elkhorn City, Kentucky. The film looks at the threats extractive industry present to this rare gorge, explores the promise of a sustainable ecotourism economy, and looks at the threats tourism could bring to the quality of life in a small town.

Screenings & Festivals
  • Athens International Film Festival
  • Kentucky Folklife Festival
  • National Paddling Festival
  • Twin Rivers Media Festival

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“The economic and political challenges of preserving place are vividly portrayed.” — Journal of Appalachian Studies
“A big and important film. As our society continues to rely less on extractive industries and more on service industries, I can think of no better way to get the dialogue on the right track than viewing Breaks of the Mountain.” — American Whitewater Magazine
“A very good teaching tool in any sustainable development class.” — American Whitewater Magazine
“Interesting, educational, and entertaining.” — Kentucky Historical Society