Short Order: Coal: A Love Story captures a panoramic perspective on an environmental cause celebre

Short Order: Coal: A Love Story captures a panoramic perspective on an environmental cause celebre

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Too often, the political landscape blurs into wide angle and you can’t see the individuals involved anymore. Films can bring humanity (and specificity) back to the political dialogue.

The interactive site, Coal: A Love Story, puts short film to use in an artistic and educational way. By connecting short docs about the coal industry’s history and the people involved on the ground, the website tells the big story in connected sections. (For a more panoramic view of the the issue, check out the 2011 SFF Documentary Competition feature, The Last Mountain, about Big Coal's devastating impact on Appalachia). Both the website and the shorts contained within it are artistically conceived and designed -- stylish while laying out the facts and human stories. The short films show coal's direct and indirect impact on a variety of people, from the miners at the ‘front lines’ to a teenager in a big city who wants to make a difference. Thousands of miles separate them, apt symbolism for the thousands of miles of cable wires that could possibly connect us all to this focal point of Coal: A Love Story, through the internet.

The information and people profiled on the site come across without the usual sanctimony or weighty brick attached. The emotion these shorts evoke comes from within. And the website's interactive elements connect the viewer even deeper to the stories, images, and issues that might otherwise seem like other people's problems. The website ends up delivering an experience that's simultaneously educational and kid-friendly and incisively informative enough to guide adults through this thorny issue during voting season.