July 2014 Film Review of “Moving Mountains” by Steve Fesenmaier, Charleston Gazette film reviewer

“Moving Mountains”, based on Penny Loeb’s 2007 award-winning book by the same name, is a masterpiece of contemporary activist cinema. The acting, music, cinematography and everything else related to the film is as good as the recent hit film, “Winter’s Bone,” that helped propel Jennifer Lawrence to fame (“The Hunger Games,” “Silver Lining Playbook.”) I completely enjoyed the film and was happy to see what great acting the film presents. It may be the best independent feature ever made in our state. The acting by well-known Hollywood actress Theresa Russell (“Spiderman 3” and many other Hollywood films)who plays the role of Trish Bragg, a lady who refused to take “no” as an answer both from state bureaucrats and the coal companies that totally dominate the economy of Mingo County and southern West Virginia. She and a group of other ladies fight relentlessly to get their water back. This is a common problem in the area, not just Mingo County. I have to congratulate my friend T. Paige Delporto for his fine low key acting, giving the women especially his movie wife Trish Bragg, the quiet support she needs to show her great will to tackle the almighty coal industry Greg Harpold, another well-known local actor, does a great job playing a leader of the coal miners who side with the coal companies in this “war on coal.” Congrats to Penny and everyone who worked on this great film. I hope that PBS or some other network will eventually show the film so that millions of people can see it. “Moving Mountains”was filmed in Mingo County, Charleston, Shepherdstown and Martinsburg. “Moving Mountains” was a finalist for Best Christian Feature at Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival, where Theresa Russell was nominated for Best Actress, and Rachel St. Gelais won second place as Best Youth Actor. Russell was also nominated for Best Actress at Hoboken International Film Festival, while the upcoming New Hope Film Festival program features the film in its lead story.



West Virginia Public Radio August 21, 2014

Actors Greg Harpold and Scott Carpenter (also music supervisor) interviewed the morning of West Virginia Premiere


The Highlands Voice Dec. 2014

A movie review by John McFerrin
An enthusiastic crowd cheered the movie “Moving Mountains” at its Morgantown showing on November 12. The movie is the story of Trish Bragg of Mingo County and her struggle against the devastating effects of mining on her community.
TThe movie is “based on a true story”; it does not claim to be a documentary, accurate in every detail. There are some little inaccuracies, some things in the movie that didn’t happen exactly that way in real life. Someone intent on picking at the factual accuracy could find some things to pick about.
Yet none of this matters because the story is so powerful. It is the story of Trish Bragg. She was a plaintiff in two different lawsuits. One was Bragg v. Robertson, the challenge to mountaintop removal and valley fills in which the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy was also a plaintiff. The other was an action to get drinking water for her community, water that had been lost due to mining.
Although the lawsuits are there in the background, the movie is not about the lawsuits. There are no dramatic courtroom confrontations, no razor sharp cross examination, no witness stand confessions. The movie is about the personal cost that mining imposes upon people and the personal struggle that is required of those who stand against it. There are scenes of Trish interacting with her neighbors, scenes of those same neighbors shunning her as she moves forward with the fight. There are scenes showing how scared people can be when they think the mining might disappear. There are scenes where Trish is tired to the point of collapse but carries on. There are arrogant coal executives, indifferent state regulators, and overbearing lawyers. It is spot on as a portrait of the people, attitudes, and struggle in such a fight.
I had known Trish from our days when we were part of the West Virginia Organizing Project, an organization that plays a part in the movie. Trish is played by Theresa Russell who does a fine job of capturing Trish and telling her story. Ms. Russell may have been delivering lines from a script, as any actress does, but when she said them it sounded like things Trish would say in exactly the way Trish would say them.
There is one tiny moment in the movie that deserves comment only because it packs so much into a single exchange. There is a scene when Trish and others are in a meeting to try to negotiate with coal officials. A coal guy comes in, shakes her hand, and addresses her as “Pat.” It is so much the way coal companies and their representatives do things. They shake hands, try to be friendly, pretend that we are all here to just work things out.
The only trouble with this is approach here is that her name is Patricia; her friends call her Trish. There is not a person on earth who calls her Pat. The coal guy is not her friend; he is a coal guy pretending to be her friend, using what he thinks is her name. In the movie, as she would do in life, she calls him on it.
The movie is decidedly un-Hollywood. There are no special effects. Those mountains shown being blown up on screen are actual mountains being blown up. Some of the players—such as Ms. Russell—have had success as Hollywood actresses but most of the cast was made up of local people with limited professional experience. The movie makers didn’t build any sets or scout the country for a location that fit their idea of what West Virginia looks like. Instead, the movie set in Mingo County was made in Mingo County and, not surprisingly, looks like Mingo County.
Had the movie makers had $165,000,000 (the budget of the movie playing in an adjacent theater) to spend, they might have been tempted to make a more conventionally Hollywood movie. Had they yielded to that temptation, they would have been lured into the mistake that many Hollywood movies make: special effects and snappy one liners can carry a movie. They forget that it’s the story that matters. It’s not the special effects, the carefully constructed sets, etc. If you have a good story and can tell it well, at this movie does, nothing else matters.
The screening was a little bit of Hollywood meets West Virginia. There was no red carpet and no paparazzi, although I did have my picture taken with Trish Bragg. Trish was there, as was Penny Loeb who wrote the screenplay as well as the book upon which the movie was based. Highlands Conservancy member and Morgantown lawyer Pat McGinley was there; he has a role in the movie as a lawyer. (He does an excellent job; since he is playing himself this is not much of a stretch.) Before and after the movie the audience could visit with Trish, talk to Penny, etc. It made the evening a bit more special.


Charlotte (NC) View Internet Oct. 1, 2014

Radio interview with Penny Loeb, Trish Bragg, T. Paige Dalporto, Paul Corbit Brown, Austin Jetton http://www.blogtalkradio.com/charlotteview/ 2014/10/01/oct-1-charlotte-view-moving-mountains-the-movie-deep-mining-water-wells "An interview of courage and hope."


Mooresville Tribune September 25, 2014


The story of former Mooresville resident Patricia Bragg and her struggle to save her small West Virginia community from contaminated water is garnering more attention on the big screen, as an independent film depicting her story hits theaters and film festivals nationwide.
Bragg, who moved from Mooresville to Pie, W.Va. in 1976 after she married a coal miner, became an advocate for her neighbors when irresponsible mining practices left her well, along with 48 others, completely dry in the mid-90s.
“Our wells were drying up and for a community that has no infrastructure and no public water and sewage, that’s a big deal,” she previously told the Tribune. “We were totally without water and that’s a panicky situation.”
Through Bragg’s subsequent battle to get state mining officials to force the coal company to provide new wells, she met investigative journalist Penny Loeb, who documented the ongoing meetings with government officials and big corporations.
Loeb turned her notes into a book, titled “Moving Mountains: How One Woman and Her Community Won Justice from Big Coal,” which was published in 2007. She then transformed the book into a script and the film had its first test-showing in Mooresville in August 2013 with more than 300 people in attendance.
“We used Mooresville to critique the movie and passed out questionnaires,” said Bragg. “Mooresville citizens helped make our movie better; we retooled it based on their suggestions. We wanted to make sure that the storyline made sense out of our West Virginia community and that the audience understood that it wasn’t about us being against the mining industry, but more about our demand for clean water.”
After an editing session, the movie has been shown in several theaters across the country and the new version will be re-shown in Mooresville at the AmsStar14 on Oct. 6. Tickets need to be purchased ahead of time at http://www.tugg.com/events/11140 , as according to Loeb, at least 60 more tickets must be sold in order for the movie to have its big-screen premiere.
Outside of theaters, the film has won the Cultural Spirit Award at the New Hope Film Festival and was a finalist for Best Christian Feature at Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival, where Theresa Russell (who portrays Bragg) was nominated for Best Actress, and Rachel St. Gelais (who plays Bragg’s daughter, Kayla) won second place as Best Youth Actor. Russell was also nominated for Best Actress at Hoboken International Film Festival.
Next up for the movie will be a showing at the LA Femme International Film Festival on Oct 16-19.
“The film is really starting to buzz a bit and people are grasping and embracing it,” said Bragg. “It seems people can relate to it because it’s about a struggle that could happen to anyone. We all need clean water.”
While she is promoting the film, Bragg hasn’t stopped in her journey to educate the public about their rights to a source of clean, readily-available water.
“Just going around to local churches and schools, I’ve heard about fracking (a process to extract oil or gas by injecting liquid at high pressure into rock formations to force open existing fissures) gearing up in North Carolina,” said Bragg.


Front Row at the Movies April 10, 2015 Tropic Cinema Key West FL

"Moving Mountains" Is a Moving Movie

Exclusive Interview by Shirrel Rhoades

Penny Loeb set out to write an article about coal mining for U.S. News & World Report and ended up making a movie. It only took her 17 years.

The article morphed into a book ("Moving Mountains: How One Woman and Her Community Won Justice from Big Coal") and then a screenplay and finally an award-winning independent film starring actress Theresa Russell.

"Moving Mountains" will be screened on Sunday at the Tropic Cinema. Producer-screenwriter Penny Loeb and the film’s editor Kevin Rhoades will be on hand for a Q&A following the showing.

This film offers a different kind of role for Theresa Russell. You’ve seen her in movies ranging from "The Razor’s Edge" to "Black Widow," "Wild Things" to "Spider-Man 3." Here she plays a coal miner’s wife named Trish Bragg. Think: Erin Brockovich. Bragg is a real-life heroine who stood up to a billion-dollar coal company whose deep mines were polluting the water supply of Pie, West Virginia.

"A friend of mine was looking for a place to build," Trish Bragg tells the story. "I found her a lot next door to my house, up this holler between two mountains, but there wasn’t no water in the well. That didn’t sit well with me. Several of us were having water trouble. At one point we had 49 wells down in our community. Some of the folks were little ol’ people with third grade educations. They didn’t know what to do."

"It was the result of deep mining," Trish Bragg nods. "But the coal company was very rude, said they didn’t have any responsibility."

When Penny Loeb first visited the southern West Virginia coalfields she was "astounded by the destruction of a historic community." A 20-story dragline shovel called Big John was hanging off a mountain above the houses, timber was clean-cut, mountaintops sheared off, and the water polluted. Dozen of burnt homes attested to the families who had fled the area.

Bragg and her neighbors went to see the Department of Environmental Protection. "It’s the squeaky wheel that gets to the oil, they told us." So before you know it, she had earned herself the nickname, "Mouth of the South."

"I’d taught Sunday school for many years, so I knew how to educate. I began teaching people how to protest." They challenged a long-held mindset in Appalachia, that "one simply does not fight the coal mining company."

"I had threats on the phone, coal trucks ran me off the road, and people followed me." Was she scared? "Absolutely."

"These companies are powerful entities with finances, machinery, and the backing of government," she says. "But fight back we did."

A lawsuit was named after her: Bragg vs. Robertson. It cleared the way for the community having more rights against the coal companies.

"Along the way, we made friends, lost some; laws changed for the betterment of coalfield citizens and built strong relationships with government offices we had feared to enter before. We were on a mission!"

Pie community now has public water. The coal companies provided some of the money for the new system.

"I’m not against mining," Trish Bragg says. "My husband was a coal miner. He belonged to the United Mine Workers. I’m against irresponsible mining."

Penny Loeb’s "Moving Mountains" documents that quixotic quest. "Struggles over mining continue in West Virginia," she says, "But ‘Moving Mountains’ shows that, sometimes, victories emerge." You can find out more at www.movingmountainsthemovie.com.



Audience Comments

“It’s a story – real – moving – and inspirational.”

“A story of faith and perseverance. How the average everyday person can make change.”

“If you choose to use your voice, you can make a difference.”

“It shows how faith and prayer brings answers.”

“This movie is inspirational, fun, well done, funny – I loved it! I loved the ups and downs. The fight.”

“Reminds me of Courageous and Fireproof. Non-fictional movie that’s very personal in feelings.

"You have truly inspired and made a difference in so many lives! You have touched my heart! Thank you for sharing your story!"

“Very moving. Shows what everyday people can accomplish when they put their heart into it.”

“I would say this movie is about more than the struggle between coal and responsibility to the environment. It is a movie about a woman’s heart. About courage and overcoming ‘mountains’ to peace in the valley for her family and neighbors.”

“The movie should be seen by all who want clean air and water. It was great.”

“You have truly inspired and made a difference in so many lives! You have touched my heart! Thank you for sharing your story!”

“I know everyone worked very hard to put this film together and should all be congratulated on a job well done!”

“Great movie. If you get a chance to see it. Please do. It was great.”






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