Front Porch Blog

“Black Diamonds” movie wins prestigious award


*2006 Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media Awarded to Catherine Pancake, Creator of Mountaintop Removal Documentary

*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, November 10, 2006, Baltimore, MD —
*Catherine Pancake, West Virginia native and Baltimore, MD resident has received the prestigious Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media award for her documentary film, “Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal and the Fight For Coalfield Justice.”

The film is the first of its kind to offer a wholly comprehensive survey of Surface mining and mountaintop removal practices (removing the tops of mountains to expose coal seams) in West Virginia. The Paul Robeson Fund awards grants to documentary films that critically address social issues and whose distribution is used for progressive social justice organizing.

The grant is highly selective and awarded to only a handful of projects from hundreds of applications. Pancake will use the funds to distribute the film to mountaintop removal activist groups who cannot afford the purchase or rental of the film, to create a special DVD that will allow groups to use the film in educational presentations, and to continue to raise awareness about the issue of mountaintop surface mining and its impact on Appalachian community and culture.

“By allowing free access to “Black Diamonds,” the Robeson Fund helps us continue our work with the tools we need to make a difference,” said Julia Bonds, Outreach Coordinator, Coal River Mountain Watch, West Virginia.

“Black Diamonds”* *is a riveting portrait of radical community resistance — an American region fighting for its life–caught between the grinding wheels of the national appetite for cheap energy and an enduring sense of Appalachian culture, pride, and natural beauty. The film features voice over talent by Lauren Graham (of *Gilmore Girls) *and includes testimony from Julia Bonds, WV activist who received the 2003 Goldman Award (the nation’s largest environmental activist award). Ken Hechler, former WV Secretary of State, William Maxey, former Director of WV Division of Forestry, and the passionate, committed citizens of West Virginia.

*ABOUT CATHERINE PANCAKE*: Catherine Pancake is a filmmaker, cultural worker and activist. Her work has screened at the Philadelphia International Film Festival, Kansas International Film Festival, West Virginia International Film Festival, Docs In Progress Series, Contemporary Museum Baltimore, AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD, numerous universities and conferences, and the Millennium Theater, NYC. She received a Maryland State Arts Council Grant for her work on *Black Diamonds.*

*ABOUT THE PAUL ROBESON FUND:** *Named to honor singer, actor and civil rights activist Paul Robeson, the Fund supports media activism and grassroots organizing by funding the pre-production and distribution of social issue film and video projects and the production and distribution of radio projects, made by local, state, national or international organizations and individual media producers. The Fund solicits projects of all genres that address critical social and political issues, combine intellectual clarity with creative use of the medium and demonstrate understanding of how the production will be used for progressive social justice organizing. For more information about the Paul Robeson Fund go to

Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal and the Fight for Coalfield Justice
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