This year’s Labor Goes to the Movies film series presents a group of films—documentary and fiction—that take the threat of apocalypse as their premise. These two documentaries present stories of ordinary flesh-and-blood people’s resistance to corporate resource extraction that destroys their villages and houses, leaves the land uninhabitable and useless, and poisons water for people and wildlife.
An Evergreen Island
View a clip online.
The people of Bougainville Island, geographically part of the Solomon Islands but politically ruled by Papua New Guinea, shut down a copper mine that savaged the land stolen from one of their villages, and went to war. An Evergreen Island (2000, Australia, Amanda King and Fabio Cavadini) presents the islanders’ accounts of their learning to live with ingenuity and resilience through the retaliatory trade blockade imposed upon them by the government of Papua New Guinea.
Mekim Na Savvy: Bougainville – Small Nation, Big Message . Read a description of the film.
Read McGill professor Aziz Choudry’s article on Bougainville island and the film: http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/cra0677.htm
Before the Mountain Was Moved
This inspiring documentary (1970, US, Robert K. Sharpe) shows the struggle of the residents of Pine Knob, Raleigh County, West Virginia, to work together as they battle powerful strip-mining companies and convince the West Virginia state legislature to pass a strong law requiring mine companies to reclaim the land they destroyed. The focus is on Ellis Bailey, a former miner, as his plainspoken eloquence brings mesmerizing authority to his account of the destruction of his home throughout the film, culminating in his brilliant reluctant testimony before the state legislature. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 1970.
Sharon Persinger, currently the PSC chapter chair at Bronx Community College, grew up in Kimberly, West Virginia, along Armstrong Creek. While Armstrong Mountain was being strip mined, she felt the booms of dynamite bringing down the hillside, watched the mountain cut to expose the coal seam, and dodged trucks as they hauled coal out of the hollow.
Carolyn Strachan is an Australian filmmaker whose films range from avant-garde to political documentaries. She is noted for her film work with Australian Aboriginal communities culminating in the groundbreaking film Two Laws. She was a director of the Sydney Filmmakers Cooperative, on the editorial board of Filmnews, an Australian film journal, and a member of the Sydney Women’s Film Workshop and the Feminist Film Workers. In the U.S., she served on the selection committee for the Nantucket Film Festival. She is a film writer, a member of the selection committee of Labor Goes to the Movies, and teaches film at Hunter College.