COAL RUSH, 5 years in the making, is a documentary-film following the relentless battle for justice of a rural Appalachian community that has sued major coal company Massey Energy, accused of contaminating the drinking water of more than 700 West Virginia residents with billions of gallons of improperly disposed toxic coal slurry.
The film examines one of the worst yet least publicized US industrial contamination disasters from all angles – including Massey Energy’s standpoint - while bringing an important story of human suffering into focus.
COAL RUSH deals with some of the most pressing social and environmental issues in America today – concerns over toxins in Americans’ tap water, rural poverty, alleged corporate malfeasance, and government failings – through the universally-appealing story of a highly controversial legal saga.
In the summer of 2011, after 7 years of litigation, the case ended, only days before trial, with a $35 million settlement without Massey Energy admitting any wrongdoing, but only after a judge was recused and the case assigned by the WV Supreme Court to a Mass Litigation Panel.
COAL RUSH serves as a powerful example of how dedicated individuals uniting to defend a universal right can ring an alarm bell on the environmental hazards potentially affecting any of us - rural or urban, and reveals a disconcerting picture on the pollution of our nationwide water resources.
Filippo Piscopo is a New York-based filmmaker, born and raised in Italy, who gained international acclaim for his 2006 NYC theatrically released documentary Urbanscapes, co-directed with his wife Lorena Luciano, which received rave reviews by movie critics from major U.S and European press. His award-winning work includes Venice Film Festival and Houston WorldFest Finalist Award documentary Dario Fo and Franca Rame: A Nobel for Two, and Coal Rush (Competition - Atlanta Film Festival, Hot Springs Film Festival), funded, among others, by the New York State Council on the Arts.
Filippo collaborates as free-lance TV producer-director for major European TV networks and United Nations TV on documentaries filmed on location throughout the United States and Europe, and along with his wife Lorena Luciano is co-directing In the Middle, a MacArthur funded documentary on the Italian journey of an African family forced to flee Libya in the aftermath of the Arab Spring and now facing an uncertain future in crisis-stricken Italy.
Born and raised in Italy, Lorena Luciano graduated from the School of Law of Milan University but never became a lawyer, pursuing instead a career as a documentary filmmaker in the United States, where she lives since 1996.
Over the years her documentaries have been shown at major international film festivals (Venice Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, Hot Springs FF, Houston FF et al.) receiving recognition by prestigious publications such as the New York Times, Variety, The Huffington Post, La Repubblica, and Il Manifesto among others.
She has been awarded with individual artist grants from the MacArthur Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Tide and the Ben & Jerry Foundations.
In New York City, where she lives with her husband and two children, she collaborates as a TV producer/editor with numerous broadcasting networks (United Nations TV, RAI Public Television, Swiss TV etc.)
With her husband Filippo Piscopo she is currently co-directing In the Middle, a new feature-length documentary supported by the United Nations that chronicles the odyssey of an Arab family who fled the upheavals in North Africa to find refuge in Southern Italy right in the middle of one of the most ferocious economic crisis Italians can remember in decades.