LIBBY, MONTANA
116 minutes, 2007, DVCAM

National Emmy Nomination - Outstanding Coverage of a Continuing News Story

“Definitely deserves Oscar consideration.”  Illinois Times  (read full review)

“Eschewing rhetoric, hysteria, or commentary, the filmmakers employ a form of direct cinema that in its restraint and layering of details has a cumulative power.” Milton Tabbot, IFP/New York  (read full review)

“The filmmakers’ impressionistic, elegiac approach is often suited to the report’s large ironies.”  New York Times

“If the political pressure to prosecute Grace’s executives to the full extent of the law persists, it will be due in part to this deeply moving film. Many critics have praised the ‘objectivity’ of filmmakers Doug Hawes-Davis and Drury Gunn Carr; what they mean is that the directors let the headlines, residents, and Lovick tell the story. This time-tested documentary technique seems fresh in the wake of last year’s much-more-publicized and vocally political Fahrenheit 9/11, but at its root is the recognition that LIBBY, MONTANA isn’t a red-state or blue-state story. It is a story about American democracy and American capitalism, and the battle that must constantly be waged to keep the latter from consuming the former.” San Antonio Current  (read full review)

“Richly rewarding.” Bozeman Daily Chronicle  (read full review)

“As the patient, perceptive LIBBY, MONTANA opens, the town seems set off in a nostalgic haze, a natural splendor indicated by snowy vistas, gamboling dogs, and big blue skies. Though it tracks a horrific and extended saga, Libby, Montana maintains a sense of intimacy…with focus on diurnal details and conceptual ambiguities, probing questions rather than reductionist oppositions of good and evil.”  PopMatters.com  (read full review)

“Among the observers to arrive in 2000 were Drury Gunn Carr and Doug Hawes-Davis of High Plains Films. But unlike many journalists, Carr and Hawes-Davis hung around, letting their cameras capture the tales of years of secrets and lies.”  Missoula Independent  (read full review)

“Incisive and unrelenting.” Mother Jones  (read full review)

“Equal parts mystery, horror film, black comedy, corporate indictment and human tragedy Libby, Montana is expertly compiled and genuinely compassionate when addressing the people involved. The film pulsates with urgency and commitment, and manages splendidly without the abrasive finger-pointing and knee-jerk aggression that has marred reportage in our age of so-called reality television.” http://www.flickhead.com  (read full review)

“In the small, blue collar community of Libby, Montana, hard working men and women have fallen victim to the worse case of toxic exposure in recorded U.S. history. When W.R. Grace came to Libby, the citizens welcomed them with open arms. It seemed that a corporation had finally taken notice of this iconic American town, and was prepared to invest in its honest workers and valuable resources. But then something went horribly wrong. Now, the citizens of Libby, Montana have finally found the courage to stand up to W.R. Grace, and attempt to hold the corporation accountable for their alleged transgressions.  All Movie Guide

“The compelling story of fatal repercussions that befell the town of Libby, Montana years after the local mines closed down. A beautifully made documentary.” Missouri Film Alliance

“This touching and rewarding film will open your eyes to corporate responsibility gone wrong, and what it really should be. What happens when big business sells the souls of their employees, friends and neighbors for an extra penny of profit? It is shocking, moving, tear jerking and ultimately overcoming, but you must learn history so that it never repeats itself again.” Charleston Documentary Film Festival

“Tells the story of the contamination of Libby, Montana, location of what the Environmental Protection Agency has called ‘the worst case of industrial poisoning of a whole community in American history.’” USA Today

“Tonight’s Must-See:  A jolting story of a conservative town that once distrusted big government and now needs it.”  Gannett News Service

***“Recommended.” Video Librarian

“Where does corporate responsibility begin and end? Libby, Montana offers a moving account of a small town’s tragic betrayal by corporate profiteers. What recourse do average citizens have when corporations such as W. R. Grace willfully decimate the health and welfare of the communities in which they operate? Every small town in America should take heed of the message in Libby, Montana: beware of corporations bearing gifts. They will sell the souls of their employees, friends and neighbors for an extra penny of profit.” Timothy McGettigan, Ph.D., Department of Sociology, Colorado State University-Pueblo

“Emotionally powerful. Intense.”  Willamette Week

“Heartbreaking, but also a fine piece of journalistic film-making.  It has the rare quality of being, at once a superb educational piece, a deeply moving story filled with truth and pathos, and a riveting cinematic event.” Don Snow, Professor of Environmental Humanities, Whitman College

“News about Libby sent shockwaves through Western Montana, but it was really the many-layered story that filmmakers Doug Hawes-Davis and Drury Gunn Carr told through their 2004 documentary Libby, Montana that elicited true emotion about the horror of what happened. That’s what a good documentary filmmaker does, and Hawes-Davis gets Missoula’s vote because he taps into our emotional tickers and makes us care. Be on the lookout for his latest example of his award-winning work with his look at Edward Abbey-style activist in Brave New West.” Missoula Independent

” **** Sensational. Best feature documentary of 2004.”   Steve Fesenmaier, West Virginia Library Commission

“This two-hour documentary manages to portray the town’s character, key players with differing perspectives on culpability, and compromised political actions that try to dispel an environmental nightmare. Compelling at feature length, the DVD expands the viewer’s appreciation - both of the film’s achievement and its subject - with deleted scenes, a filmmaker audio interview, and an educational film on asbestos, from a time when it was still deemed an unalloyed miracle of nature. For all audiences.” Library Journal

“A moving emotional portrayal of hard-working people suffering at the hands of big business. Engaging from beginning to end…though other documentaries have covered corporate greed in detail, the damning evidence presented against W.R. Grace & Company is enough to make even the heartiest capitalist grimace in disgust. The true heart of the film, though, lies in the community of Libby. Watching these people stand up and fight for answers is as inspiring as the story itself is depressing.” www.bloggernews.net

“Shocking, devastating.” Combustible Celluloid

“As the townfolk rally and emotions and accusations fly, Libby finds itself under a national spotlight as the case gains prominence and the US government feigns impotence in the wake of corporate indifference. A companion piece to Soderbergh’s Erin Brockovich, Libby, Montana is the powerful and shocking story of a town left to die, but which battled to survive.” Bradford Film Festival

“This powerful documentary traces the toxic tragedy that just led to federal grand-jury indictments against W.R. Grace executives for allegedly covering up the tremolite asbestos problem at the Libby mine that eventually caused the deaths of more than 200 people.” Queen City News

“The film blends the current debate with compelling archival footage during the mining heyday.  Libby residents find themselves beleaguered by medical and economic questions in the wake of the mine shutdown and the bankruptcy proceedings of the former owners (as they try to dodge legal liability and the massive cleanup costs).  Abandoned by their former employer, residents are divided over where to lay blame - on  greedy company officers, or on government officials charged with regulating mining to ensure the public health and safety in Libby and in the 30 states and six countries where products were shipped.”  Real Screen

“Emotionally gut-wrenching.” Missoulian  (read full review)

“Lawyer. Tree hugger. Activist. Musician. Eccentric. You won’t get a rise from Ned Mudd by calling him any of those names. Mudd, 55, makes his home…“it’s the woods,” he says—and he knows exactly what he wants to do with his life. In the 1990s, he was a fierce and outspoken environmental advocate, working on legal cases to slow the clear-cutting of forests, preserve wildlife, clean up rivers and eliminate toxic waste. Today, he records quirky indie discs and composes music for movie soundtracks, mostly documentaries by High Plains Films of Montana.” Birmingham News  (read full review)

“LIBBY, MONTANA begins with a casual mini tour through the small town of around 2600 residents. It looks like a nice place, and it’s certainly breathtakingly gorgeous. But there’s a horrifying story here—a tale of corporate greed and deceit that left a legacy of death and disease for Libby’s inhabitants.”  Worldpress.com  (read full review)

“In the past, documentary filmmakers Drury Gunn Carr and Doug Hawes-Davis of Missoula’s High Plains Films have concentrated on small subjects like prairie dogs and coyotes. Naturalists and Wal-Mart parking lots were about as grandiose as the pair got. But with their latest film, Libby, Montana, the sense of scale has been redefined.” Missoula Independent  (read full review)

“**** Tragic, infuriating, edifying.  A quietly savvy approach to storytelling.”  See Magazine  (read full review)

“Powerfully disturbing…the viewer can not help but be drawn in.”  Educational Media Reviews On-Line  (read full review)

“The film begins by showing the human side of Libby, with images of everyday Montana people in a setting that can equate to any small-town in the country.”  The Daily Evergreen  (read full review)

“The film was nominated under the category Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story - Long Form, and competes against four other documentaries in the category.”  Missoulian  (read full review)

“**** Touching.” filmcritic.com  (read full review)

“Travel to Montana’s Kootenai Valley, where the Rocky Mountain town of Libby bears the scars of more than a half-century of vermiculite mining and Zonolite insulation manufacturing. The discovery that the Libby vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos rocked this picturesque small town to its foundations. Libby, Montana examines the plight of a community faced with asbestos-laden homes and a government that turns its back on the cancer-stricken residents. Once a prosperous mining town, Libby now has the dubious distinction of being the worst case of community-wide toxic exposure in U.S. history. Unlike Michael Moore, filmmakers Drury Gunn Carr and Doug Hawes-Davis do not editorialize, but rather present the facts and let you draw your own conclusion.”  Banff Mountain Film Festival

“The PBS series “P.O.V.” next week takes a long hard look at the devastating toll asbestos exposure has had on Libby.” Great Falls Tribune  (read full review)

“A Masterpiece.” www.hometheatersound.com  (read full review)

“An engrossing chronicle of the situation.” Film Threat  (read full review)

“Libby, Montana is the true story of the town’s struggles with the asbestos mine and the mine’s failure since the 1960s to relay the dangers of asbestos dust.”  Reno-Gazette Journal  (read full review)

“The long, sordid tale of W.R. Grace’s vermiculite mine in a small northwestern Montana town, and the litany of cancers and lung disease the townspeople have subsequently developed, is distilled into a cinematic self-portrait.” Bear Deluxe Magazine  (read full review)

“Even as we documented the history of the town and the clean-up efforts, the story of Libby took on a larger life as Congress was forced to consider what to do about the millions of homes and other buildings in the U.S. filled with vermiculite from Libby,” co-director Carr said.  Missoulian  (read full review)

“Powerful.” Newwest.net  (read full review)

“Excellent…the film accurately tells the tale of Libby with an introduction that mixes the home movies of local families with industry fluff pieces about mining and logging in northwest Montana. That eventually segues into the asbestos story.  Overall, it paints a picture of Libby as a loving, caring family town where something went amiss.”  The Western News  (read full review)

“LIBBY, MONTANA never slips into didactic territory, instead showing the events and testimonies impartially, allowing the audience to realize the horror of the events though unfiltered, raw words from those who experienced it first hand.” The Daily Targum  (read full review)

“Riveting.”  Life Lines  (read full review)

“The betrayal here is knowing and conscious, as corporate figures, with the silent assent of government agencies, deliberately hide or obscure the deadly consequences of their business for townsfolk who have been led to believe that all is well with their world. The familiarity of this narrative does not detract from its tragedy, and in the case of Libby, Montana, the immediacy and sincerity of the documentary form re-enlivens the story.” www.popmatters.com  (read full review)

“Illuminating.”  Salon.com  (read full review)

“In 2000, the northern mining town of Libby, population 4,500, made national news when the Environmental Protection Agency arrived for emergency clean up after decades of mining vermiculite had exposed the town to asbestos. ” Patriot-Ledger  (read full review)

“For seventy years Libby was home to a large vermiculite mine. The ore was later found to contain asbestos and eventually the mine was shutdown in 1990. But that’s just the beginning.” California Gazette  (read full review)

“When the credits roll, you’re left with the feeling that what happened in Libby serves as a warning to those who ignore the effects of our way of life on the environment.” Missoula Independent  (read full review)

“High Plains Films’ documentary about asbestos poisoning and the deaths of more than 200 people makes its way to DVD just as it’s getting a debut in the Big Apple.” Missoulian  (read full review)

“Thoughtful and wrenching.” Portland Mercury  (read full review)

“With an artful interweaving of the town’s economic history and the life (and death) stories of various individuals, the film picks up a compelling rhythm, inexorably pulling you along. LIBBY, MONTANA is a big film about a big problem, well balanced and well told.” Montana Magazine  (read full review)

“The film contrasts the idyllic setting of Libby in the Rocky Mountains with communitywide exposure to a toxic substance.” Associated Press  (read full review)

“The film moves closer to Libby’s heart and soul than did the news coverage.” deepqt.com  (read full review)

“The Dome Theater’s pastel blue and art deco stands out against the gray and cold of Wednesday morning’s Mineral Avenue. Libby’s old mainstreet—whose heyday began to fade decades ago—also looks gray and cold. Other than the theater and its chromatic marquee, the buildings are unhappy stone and dull stucco. The sidewalks are almost empty and traffic is slow. The Dome theater’s marquee announces tonight’s film: Libby, Montana. A High Plains Film. Free.”  Montana Journalism Review  (read full review)

“Carr and Hawes-Davis have never shied away from eliciting strong emotional responses, but this film reaches a new level ... it’s depth and pace, as well as the fantastic archival footage, give it gravitas.” High Country News  (read full review)

“Employing impressive imagery and flashbacks, this film not only tells of a failed American environmental policy, but also of courage, hope and dedication.”  Okomedia Institute

“A national television audience will see the documentary LIBBY, MONTANA on Tuesday on the PBS series P.O.V. The national broadcast premiere is a coup for Drury Gunn Carr and Doug Hawes-Davis, a pair of filmmakers who never went to film school.” Billings Gazette  (read full review)

“Buoyed by poignant interviews with Libby citizens who tell their tales of betrayal, LIBBY, MONTANA is a documentary with heart about big business and the abandonment of human rights.”  VUE Weekly  (read full review)

“Chronicles the heroic efforts of one EPA chief, parachuted into the disaster zone. It follows his rounds amongst innocent, good, loyal townsfolk who put their trust in the ‘company.’  Although the film is about restitution, honour, and, helping a town recover, it is rife with political scandal.”  Trailpeak.com

“It took three years to record 120 hours of video, sort through 80 hours of stock footage, and trim it all down into a two-hour documentary, but the guys at High Plains Films, based in Missoula, have finished the task.”  Helena Independent Record  (read full review)