Coal Country takes first prize

Winners of the 10th Annual West Virginia Filmmakers Festival in Sutton included the controversial new documentary “Coal Country” by Mari-Lynn Evans and Phyllis Geller.

“Coal Country” was named Best Film at the event this past weekend. Other winners included the psychological western/thriller “Blood River,” which was named Best Narrative Feature. The line producer was West Virginia native Jesse H. Rivard.

The short comedy “Captain” won the Audience Choice Award as well as an Award of Excellence from the jury. Its producer was West Virginia native Caitlyn Renee Campbell.
The 2009 West Virginia Filmmaker of the Year was Russ Barbour, who also won the award for Best Documentary Feature for “Reconstructing Bill: The Story of Governor William C. Marland.”

The Filmmaker of the Year award, bestowed annually since 2003, is the most prestigious honor given to a West Virginia filmmaker and serves as an annual highlight of the festival. Barbour received a trophy sculpted by Sutton artist Bill Hopen.

This year’s films were juried by festival director Kevin Carpenter, West Virginia Film blogger Steve Fesenmaier and filmmaker Sam Holdren. For more information, visit

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4 Responses to Coal Country takes first prize

  1. Rich says:

    The whole premise of “clean coal” is CCS (carbon capture and sequestration) to avoid the catastrophe of global climate change. However, there has not been any significant instance of CCS to date. The key pilot project, FutureGen, was cancelled because of massive delays and cost overruns. Many experts doubt that CCS could be effective, because it the sequestered CO2 would leak out slowly. If it leaks out fast it would snuff out life like it did to the 1700 people killed when CO2 erupted from Lake Nyos in the Cameroon in the 1980s natural disaster. CCS would raise the cost of electricity by 20 to 80% and lower generating efficiency significantly.
    With all of these problems, we must phase out our use coal as an energy source. I know it won’t be easy because it provides so many with their livelihood and it is used to generate about half of the US electric supply and a similar fraction worldwide. However, there are better alternatives – particularly conservation and efficiency and also renewable energy. These energy technologies hold the promise of clean, safe, healthy, and stable jobs as well.
    I admit that having studied the issue and having thought carefully about it, my mind is made up. However, I do look forward to seeing the movie and through it seeing both sides.

  2. London Smog Survivor says:

    I grew up in the 60’s in London. I guess it took 50 years for everyone to forget the smog catastrophes that occurred in London in the 50’s & 60’s. During cold spells everyone stoked their coal burning fireplaces with more coal to stay warm. A weather inversion caused the poisonous gasses & smoke to be trapped in the fog causing thousands of deaths over just a few days and many more after that. The florists ran out of flowers, the funeral homes ran out of caskets. The cinemas closed because the smog crept indoors & you couldn’t see the screen. You couldn’t see down the end of the long hospital wards. Sounds like a horror movie but it wasn’t. You would step out of your house & the air was a thick yellow mustard colour, you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face & you would get lost just yards from your house. We wrapped scarves around our faces but there was no way to avoid breathing the pollution. Coal burning fireplaces were banned in London but the deadly smogs continued through the 60’s.

    Don’t let them fool you – THERE IS NOTHING CLEAN ABOUT COAL!!!!!

  3. Genene Nell says:

    Congrats Jesse! a job well done…

  4. bo webb says:

    Congratulations Coal Country! Well deserved
    The truth speaks for itself. Those that deny the truth deny themselves the blessings of truth.

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