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31 August 2021

Coal comfort.

by Andrew MacGregor


Short Films: “The Both of Me” - 17 mins 37s

This sobering documentary takes place in and around Boone County, West Virginia - an area blighted by the decline of the U.S. coal industry. Ex-miner Chuck Nelson suffers the consequences of a life spent underground, and is determined to hold Big Coal to account.

He and director Brandon Lavoie guide viewers through towns drained of life, industry, and welfare ("You can't drink the water, and you can't breathe the air!"). Nelson even points out a coal preparation plant built next to an elementary school - a grim, almost blackly comic example of corporate power.

Compounded by ashen colour grading and shots of mining's heydey, 'The Both of Me' is a tough look at a region on life support. However, Nelson's dignified presence and insights reward hardy viewers until the bitter end.


Cinematographer: Jared Levy
Location: West Virginia, USA

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