Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mine Your Own Business

"This is not about global warming," we were crisply informed by Freyda Levy before the movie began. "It's about economic development." Levy is the president of the Moving Picture Institute, which supports film-makers and films "who are committed to protecting and sustaining a free society."

Not the usual movie screening. Instead of a movie theater or screening room, this one was held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Instead of a dozen scruffy movie critics, the audience was about 70 Hill staffers wearing IDs with blurred photos on chains around their necks.

The movie was Mine Your Own Business, funded by industry, but made by journalists Phelim McAleer and Ann McElhinney, who retained editorial control. The premise of the film is that a responsible mining company has been thwarted from developing mines in some of the poorest communities by well-meaning but carpet-bagging environmentalists who have a romantic notion of "peasant" culture and are thus condemning these people to lives without opportunity for jobs, health care, and education.

The mining companies, of course, are carpet-baggers too, with their own ideas of what is best for these communities, not coincidentally what is best for the mining companies as well. But they make some good points and have some devastating footage. As a movie, it is ragged and amateurish. As advocacy it is further evidence that in the era of Michael Moore, "An Inconvenient Truth," and You Tube, a movie is worth a million words. And $10 million in lobbying.

1 comment:

Pam said...

Watching this reminded me of touring a "retired" silver mine in Idaho. We learned that silver couldn't be mined profitably in that mine, but can in places in Mexico -- not just because of wages, but also because of looser environmental regs. This in an area that is visibly scarred by our domestic mining industry.

Though environmental groups may not put enough value on human need, money doesn't have a conscience.