By Hayley M. Cook
WILLIAMSON – A movie filmed in, and centered around, the Mingo County area will premiere at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21,at West Virginia State University Capitol Theater in Charleston.
“Moving Mountains,” filmed in West Virginia during the summer of 2012, and starring actress Theresa Russell, tells the story of Trish Bragg of Pie, as she and her friends fight for safe drinking water after a deep mine destroyed their wells.
“Moving Mountains” filmed in Mingo County, Charleston, Shepherdstown and Martinsburg, features the work of many actors, musicians, crew members and extras from West Virginia. It also received assistance from the West Virginia Film Industry Investment Act.
The film, which was been favorably received at different film festivals, spans a decade and reportedly features an “unexpected ending.”
The film was a finalist for Best Christian Feature at Bare Bones International Film & Music Festival, where 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 the Hoboken International Film Festival, while the upcoming New Hope Film Festival program features the film in its lead story.
One upcoming Charleston Gazette review states: “’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.”
Rave reviews also came from the 300-plus member of an audience at a test-showing last year, with comments such as: “It’s an awesome story about fighting for what you believe in no matter what. Have faith in the Lord and he can use you no matter who you are, your age, or where you are from. Don’t be afraid, fight and you can overcome.”
The movie is based on the award-winning 2007 book, “Moving Mountains: how one woman and her community won justice from big coal,” written by Penny Loeb, who wrote and produced the movie. Though based on actual events, with most of the actual people portrayed with their real names, telling a feature story necessitated altering some events and characters. Trish Bragg, a co-producer, read and approved the portrayals of such characters. More of Loeb’s 17-year journey to the film’s completion can be found under “Production Notes” at www.movingmountainsthemovie.com.
The West Virginia actors included in the film are: Greg Harpold, Michael (Meredith) Martin, Taylor Horst, John Halstead, Tina Larson, James Butcher, Dustin Tichenor, Wyatt Payne, Lisa Gandee, Dennis Harrison, James Caniford, Danielle H. Moore, Jeannie Young, Ricardo Accurso and T. Paige Dalporto (who also composed songs in the movie).
Other West Virginia musicians include Debra Schultz, Craig Nobles, Megan Carpenter, Elaine Purkey and Arlene Varney. Scott Carpenter, who also acted, arranged the score. Editor Kevin Rhoades, now in Brooklyn, New York, was a longtime filmmaker in West Virginia.
Definitely a “bare bones” production, financed with savings and more, Loeb and Bragg say they are grateful to Jeanie Clark, production manager and director, the only person who could have gotten them through, and Michelle Farrell, “whose Baltimore-based team, produced the superb cinematography.”
Loeb and Bragg also said they got terrific support from West Virginian Holly Siders, first assistant director. Additional footage was filmed by West Virginians Bill Richardson and the late Bob Gates. The two also offer gratitude to all those who provided the locations, including the Capitol Complex and Berkeley County Courthouse.
At the Aug. 21 screening, those in attendance can meet Trish Bragg, Penny Loeb and many of the actors, crew and musicians. A portion of proceeds will be donated to community groups. Tickets are on sale for $10 each at http://www.tugg.com/events/10397. Some will be available at the door, but it may be best to buy ahead of time just in case.
To stay updated on the film, check the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/movingmountainsthemovie. Other West Virginia screenings will be announced soon.
Hayley Molloy Cook is a news reporter and writes features for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279, or on Twitter @hayleymcook.