Beverly and Terry grew up like kin on opposite sides of a mountain ridge in eastern Kentucky. Now in their fifties, the two find themselves in the midst of a debate dividing their community and the world: who controls, consumes, and benefits from our planet’s shrinking supply of natural resources? While Beverly organizes her neighbors to stop Miller Brothers Coal from advancing into her hollow, Terry considers signing away the mining rights to his backyard—a decision that could destroy both of their homes. This tale of social change examines the environmental, human, and cultural impacts of our actions.
With extensive educational resources that include a virtual reality game, educational curriculum, discussion guides, and the People Power short documentary series (available only on the educational DVD), Deep Down is a useful teaching tool in courses related to:
- Environmental Studies
- Women's Studies & Leadership
- Community Organizing
- Cultural Studies
- Law & Public Policy
Deep Down is--without a doubt--the most moving and insightful film yet on the issue of mountaintop removal and it reveals the complexities of a rogue industry that is threatening much more than trees and mountains, but an entire way of life and the soul of a proud people. This movie provides heroes that can stand as examples in any fight for social justice. DEEP DOWN is hugely intelligent, haunting, and moving. I wish everybody in America could see this film.
Silas House, Author & Professor at Berea College in Berea, KY
In “Deep Down” we see ordinary citizens successfully fight mountain top removal to keep their cultural landscape in tact. Though set in coal country, this film is about more than taking on king coal. It elegantly demonstrates the power of citizens’ action anywhere to curb big industry exploitation and greed. Local residents of this eastern Kentucky community liken the painstaking process of learning about their own legal rights and coal industry regulations to peeling back the tight layers of an onion. At the center is a sweet morsel of victory nestled next to terrible knowledge of how much has been lost and may yet be lost. The makers of “Deep Down” have captured a poignant moment in the natural and social history of central Appalachia. And they have given all of us the call to action within our own communities, wherever they may be.
Dr. Katherine Roberts, American Studies Professor at UNC- Chapel Hill
Deep Down is a revelatory film, breathtakingly poignant and poetic, and goes beyond the politics of protest to look at the inexorably connected lives of Appalachian residents...
Incredibly resilient and prepared, Beverly May, who works as a nurse at a clinic for those without insurance, might be one of the most endearing and powerful anti-mountaintop removal spokeswomen in the nation.
Deep Down is flawlessly filmed and edited and the storyline ingenious. One could not have fabricated a finer heroic tale than this David and Goliath reality.
San Francisco Examiner
"Deep Down" is a good example of its genre, telling a story rather than explaining an issue. Compelling narrative dominates the documentary, complemented by sufficient scientific facts to drive home the prevailing message: Coal is dirty. This heartbreaking but ultimately heartwarming account of a small mining community weaves in humor, color, and suspense, making it well worth a look.
Sarah A. Henderson
Sierra Club's "Green Life" Blog
Resource Web Sites
People Power Short Video Series
From the makers of Deep Down, People Power is a series of short educational companion videos that highlight themes in the documentary Deep Down, such as the environment, energy, religion and ethics, sustainability, health effects of mountaintop removal, and female leadership. Each People Power episode, included as HD videos on the educational DVD, has discussion questions and resources available online. Topics covered by the series include:
- A portrait of Susan Lapis, a volunteer pilot
- God's Mountains: religion and mountaintop removal
- Sustainability at Berea College's ecovillage
...and several more.
The Virtual Mine, featured as part of Deep Down's national PBS broadcast, is a complete educational 3D game built by Deep Down in the popular world Second Life. Developed at BAVC's Producers Institute for New Media Technologies with funding from ITVS and MacArthur Foundation, the Virtual Mine is an educational 3D environment, game, and educational curriculum for teachers, students, and anyone who'd like to learn more about mountaintop removal, coal fired power production, alternative energies, and the amazing music and cultural legacy that is at risk in the Appalachian mountains. It is being used for learning and virtual events by teachers and professors worldwide. Educators are welcome to use the game, the Virtual Mine, and the curriculum and to adapt it to suit the needs of their classrooms. Get the Teacher's Guide here.
Deep Down Discussion Guide
This discussion guide, prepared by ITVS Community Cinema as part of Deep Down's national community screening campaign, provides a brief history of mining in the Appalachian mountains, several facts and information sources, discussion questions, and resources for more information.
Mountaintop removal and the environment fact sheet from NRDC
Deep Down's major national outreach partner organization is the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). They created this educational fact sheet which compiles some of the best research on mountaintop removal coal mining and its impact on the environment.
Photo Essay: Revisiting the Appalachian Coal Field
This photo essay from photographer Builder Levy puts the film "Deep Down" in its historical and cultural context.
Resources to Download