Tag Archives: Mining

Them That Work – How Matewan Inspired a State (2009)

3:12; U.S.

Director: Jason Brown

Synopsis: Documentary about John Sayles’s “Matewan.” Features interviews with John Sayles, Chris Cooper, David Straithairn, and others.




These Hands (1992)

45 minutes, 1992, Tanzania, Africa
Director: Flora M’mbugu-Schelling
in Kimakonde and Swahili with English subtitles

Who would have suspected that a 45 minute documentary about women crushing rocks, without narration or plot, would offer one of the most unforgettable and rewarding experiences of recent African cinema? Flora M’mbugu-Schelling’s quiet tribute to women at the very bottom of the international economic order ultimately deepens into a mediation on human labor itself. These Hands will stimulate viewers to rethink documentary and to question their own role as consumers in a global economy.



Thurmond, West Virginia (1996)

22m; U.S.

Director: Laura Harrison

Synopsis: This films documents the falling fortunes of Thurmond, a coal town. Thurmond was once a thriving community, yet today it stands as a ghost town in the making. It was also the main filming location for John Sayles’ film “Matewan.”  This film, directed by Laura Harrison, looks at the history the town, while subtly probing deeper issues about the importance of community and the identity of a place.



To Save the Land and the People (1999)

59m; U.S.

Director: Anne Lewis

Synopsis: 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.

Contact: Anne Lewis 512-656-0507 (cell)



Tower Colliery (2008)

11m; U.K.

Director: Claire Pollak

Synopsis: The success story of miners who pooled their redundancy money to purchase the land and mine to run Tower Colliery as a workers’ co-operative.

Contact: Brought to our attention in 2010 by: Nicola Seyd for London Socialist Film Co-op

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Posted by on June 13, 2012 in Documentary, Organizing



Under Rich Earth (Bajo Suelos Ricos) [2008]

92m; Ecuador

Director: Malcolm Rogge

Synopsis: Under Rich Earth is a story about ordinary people with extraordinary courage. In a remote mountain valley in Ecuador, coffee and sugarcane farmers face the dismal prospect of being forced off their land to make way for a mining project. Unprotected by the police and ignored by their government, they prepare to face down the invaders on their own. Their resistance ultimately leads to a remarkable and dangerous stand off between farmers and a band of armed paramilitaries deep in the cloud forest. In a world dominated by news of massacres and terrorism, Under Rich Earth offers a surprising and poignant tale of hope and determination.




Widen Film Project (2008)

55m; U.S.

Director: Kelley Thompson

Synopsis: Life in Widen, WV, the famous company town built by J.G. Bradley who was a national and state coal mining leader. Includes the 1952 U.M.W.A. strike.

Contact: Kelley Thompson,, 304-344-1990 (home)



We Dig Coal: A Portrait of Three Women (1982)

58m; U.S.

Director: Thomas C. Goodwin, Dorothy McGhee, Gerardine Wurzburg

Synopsis: On October 2, 1979, Marilyn McCusker was killed working inside a deep coal mine in central Pennsylvania. It had taken her two years and a sex discrimination suit in federal court to get her job as a coal miner. This award-winning film has been called “the best documentary ever made on women in non-traditional occupations.”



West Virginia State Archives Labor Films (Various Years)

5m each; U.S.

Synopsis: A collection of 5 minute long (each) audio and video files of or about historical labor events. Including: Kaiser Aluminum, 1957 Walter Reuther at the West Virginia Centennial Celebration, 1963 Hominy Falls Mine Disaster, 1968 Farmington Mine Explosion, 1968 Black Lung Rally, 1969 UMWA Presidential Candidate Arnold Miller at Miners’ Rally, 1972 Dedication of the Mine Health and Safety Academy, 1976.

Contact: Audio/Video Files from the West Virginia State Archives. Access:



West Virginia’s Underground Economy (2006)

30m; U.S.

Synopsis: A short film documenting West Virginian companies importing employees from out of the state, paying cash to employees to avoid taxes, and using other underhanded tactics . Also seventeen TV commercials about the WV Jobs Act, 40-hour workweek, outsourcing, clean water, business development and other themes.

Contact: Affiliated Construction Trades Foundation- A Division of the West Virginia State Building and Construction Trades Council – AFL-CIO tttp:// Commercials about unfair practices are at Access: