Front Porch Blog

“Black Diamonds” Receives The Spadaro Documentary Award

(PRLEAP.COM) April 2007, Baltimore, MD— Catherine Pancake, West Virginia native and Baltimore, MD resident has received the prestigious “Spadaro Documentary Award” for her documentary film, Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal and the Fight For Coalfield Justice. The award’s name honors the activist and whistleblower, Jack Spadaro, who has spent his entire professional career working within the coal mining industry for the betterment of the Appalachian community. One award is given annually to recognize the best film, video, radio, television, or other media presentation on Appalachia or its people. The award was recently presented to Catherine during the Appalachian Studies Association’s (ASA) annual meeting “Piecing the Appalachian Experience: Celebrating an Organization and a Region: The 30th Anniversary of the Appalachian Studies Association” at Maryville College in Maryville, Tennessee.

Jack Spadaro, for whom the award is named, had this to say about Black Diamonds after it’s screening at the ASA conference. “Black Diamonds had me with it all the way through. By the end I was in tears. I have known these people and participated in their struggle for nearly forty years. With great compassion and forcefulness, Catherine Pancake has told the story of their fight to save the Appalachian Mountains and their communities. She has given voice to a people who have shown amazing dignity and courage on a daily basis against the powerful forces of the coal industry and unresponsive and uncaring government agencies. Catherine Pancake’s film illustrates the violence and destructiveness of mountaintop removal mining, but, more importantly, she shows us the power of good people joining together to resist and ultimately triumph over injustice.”

Catherine also received a 2006 Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media Award and a Maryland State Arts Council Grant for her work on Black Diamonds. The film has been screened at the Kansas International Film Festival, West Virginia International Film Festival, Anchorage International Film Festival, Takoma Park Film Festival, and numerous universities and conferences.

Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal & The Fight for Coalfield Justice is distributed by Bullfrog Films and DVDs are now available for purchase by going to or contacting Bullfrog films at 800-543-FROG (3764) or {encode=”” title=””}

ABOUT BLACK DIAMONDS: Black Diamonds 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. It 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, West Virginia native and Baltimore resident, is a filmmaker, cultural worker and activist. As a filmmaker and artist, Catherine’s work has been shown at The Baltimore Museum of Art, Ohio State University, Philadelphia International Film Festival, Contemporary Museum Baltimore, AFI Silver Theater, Silver Springs, MD, Millennium Theater, NYC and many more venues. Catherine is also an award-winning producer for commercial web site projects and online marketing.





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