Baltimore-based filmmaker Catherine Pancake has made a riveting and ultimately energizing documentary about coal mining in West Virginia, "Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal and the Fight for Coalfield Justice."
"Diamonds" -- which opens the Takoma Park Film Festival tonight and will be shown again Sunday -- plays like a modern-day "Civil Action," only this time the corporate baddies are the leaders and mouthpieces of the coal industry, and the grass-roots crusaders are poor Appalachian residents who are rich in courage and culture. In a scant hour-plus, "Black Diamonds" provides a thumbnail economic and political history of coal mining in the state, a textured portrait of Appalachian life and a convincing case for ending the environmental scourge of decapitating mountains to get to the coal buried inside them.
Free. 7 tonight. Film festival, through Sunday. Takoma Park Community Center, 7500 Maple Ave., Takoma Park. For schedule, http:/
-- Ann Hornaday