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Free Fresh Docs Screening: “Overburden” Depicts a Coal Industry in Peril

Community members gather at Liberty High School in Glen Daniel, West Virginia, on Friday, April 9, 2010 for a candlelight vigil four days after the mine disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine operated by Massey Energy.

A community candlelight vigil in Glen Daniel, West Virginia, on April 9, 2010, four days after the disaster at the Upper Big Branch Mine operated by Massey Energy. Video still from “Overburden.”

On July 25, the Center for Documentary Studies and the Southern Documentary Fund will present a free screening of director Chad Stevens’ coal country documentary, Overburdenas part of the Fresh Docs series, which features works-in-progress and recently completed films. Screenings are followed by a moderated conversation with the filmmaker in which the audience participates. 

Friday, July 25, 7 p.m.
Full Frame Theater, American Tobacco Campus
320 Blackwell Street, Durham, North Carolina

After a West Virginia mine disaster kills her brother, a coal miner’s daughter—a fiery, pro-coal conservative—joins forces with a tree-hugging grandmother to take on a powerful coal company. Overburden is “the first documentary to bear witness to the end of coal in America” through the story of individuals confronting the might of corporate power and emerging victorious. Decades after Barbara Kopple filmed her seminal documentary Harlan County, USA, the coal industry is in peril. The epicenter of change may come from the most unexpected place—the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains—as Betty and Lorelei unite to rebuild their fractured community. Read a recent story by Chad Stevens from Proof, the National Geographic photography blog.

Chad A. Stevens is an Emmy-winning filmmaker, editor, journalist, and professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He has also received an Alfred I. duPont–Columbia University Award and two Webby Awards in Documentary. Most of Stevens’ work centers on environmental visual communication, with innovative projects that range in topic from hydraulic fracturing to the BP Gulf oil spill and that include Powering a Nation, an acclaimed interactive documentary series from UNC funded by the Carnegie and Knight Foundations.

Catherine Orr (co-producer and assistant editor) is a multimedia journalist specializing in documentary storytelling and the co-founder of StoryMineMedia. She was the editor-in-chief of Coal: A Love Story, an award-winning Powering a Nation project; her short film Born into Coal won the gold award in the 2012 College Photographer of the Year competition, and third place in Picture of the Year International.

Elena Rue (co-producer and assistant editor) is program director of the Lewis Hine Documentary Fellowship at the Center for Documentary Studies, where she also teaches multimedia classes. Rue is co-founder, with Catherine Orr, of StoryMineMedia. She was a fellow with UNC News21, which produced Powering a Nation. Rue’s short film Shared Origins has been featured in several prominent LGBT film festivals including Frameline and Outfest.

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