Wednesday, June 18, 2014

East End Film Festival - Goodbye Gauley Mountain (2013)

Ecosexual (e-co-sex-u-al): noun

1.    ‘An environmentally conscious person whose adherence to green living extends to their romantic and/or sexual life’
2.   A person who anthropomorphises nature and finds it erotic

Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle are charming, enigmatic, liberals who are on a two-women crusade to spread the word of ecosexuality: a combination of environmental activism and sexuality.  They want to shift the metaphor from Mother Earth to Lover Earth, and they are doing it in public as loud as they can.

Stephens is at the helm as director of their new documentary that explores the perils of Mountain Top Removal, alongside the erotic majesty of nature.  Primarily focussed on their home state of West Virginia, Stephens begins the story of deep mining tragedies of the 1930s up until the 2010 Massey Energy disaster that killed 29 people.

Mountain Top Removal is the process of using explosives to crack open the summit ridges of mountains in order to harvest coal seams that lay near the surface.  It is a highly destructive procedure that requires millions of tonnes of ‘overburden’ (ecosystem waste) to be dumped onto nearby forest areas.

Along the way Stephens and Sprinkle interview plenty of locals that oppose MTR, including going to a Ted Nugent rally of devout climate-denying republicans that cling to their “we coal signs”.  These people are being told that coal=jobs whilst being denied information about how living close to this kind of industry increases the likelihood of cancer and deformed infancy.  The choice should be so simple…

Activism in America is alive and well, but due to its anti-establishment nature is relegated almost exclusively to feature films that are exhibited outside of the studio system.  This is a tragedy in itself given the amount of airtime spent to analysing the stock market and other energy markets.  Even though most people would sacrifice a clean planet for cheaper energy, most people simply do not know the facts about the consequences of energy production.

Beth does a wonderful job in the documentary of making the subject fun and extremely watchable.  Most of the science is told in cute but compelling stop motion / animation, and her and Annie's screen presence is incredibly relaxed.  Their mission of travelling the world and publicly marrying the moon, or the sea in order to raise awareness about the environment is a brilliant strategy.

Combining sex and activism seems so obvious in hindsight.  Why did no-one think of it before...

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