The film explores one of the world’s most dangerous coal fields.
“Broken Landscape,” the award-winning documentary on the feudal and dangerous conditions in northeast India’s coal fields, will be shown in India this week. On Friday evening at 10 p.m. India Standard Time (12:30 p.m. EDT), CNN-IBN will broadcast the documentary as a special screening for World Environment Day.
Nearly a year in the making, “Broken Landscape” is based on the reporting that Keith Schneider did last year for Circle of Blue and the Wilson Center, a collaborator on our Global Choke Point project. Starting from the quiet sweep of a canoe paddle stirring the contaminated waters of southeast Meghalaya, “Broken Landscape” takes viewers down a makeshift tree-branch ladder into one of the region’s deep rathole box mines, where serious injuries are endemic and miners regularly die of cave-ins and drownings.
In April 2014, the National Green Tribunal ordered the mines shut until safety and environmental practices improved. The court order prompted protests and a huge march that was captured on film by Sean Peoples and Michael Miller, the co-producers.
Peoples, a filmmaker with the Wilson Center, premiered “Broken Landscape” at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Montana last year. The 13-minute documentary explores the aftermath of the unexpected court-ordered shutdown of one of the world’s most lawless and dangerous coal fields in Meghalaya, India.
“Broken Landscape” describes communities frustrated and broken by mining practices — the distress of local villagers afraid of the water; the work stoppage that leaves desperate immigrant miners jobless and homeless; the loss of income sustained by mine owners; the mix of skepticism and despair expressed by journalists with the Shillong Times who understand the enduring consequences of reckless mine practices to the land and its residents.
Judges recognized “Broken Landscape” as one of the 10 best documentaries among the 125 films shown during the Montana festival. The screening this week in India presents “Broken Landscape” to an audience that could reach 45 million viewers, by far the largest number of people who have seen the film.
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