After Coal

What happens when fossil fuels run out? How do communities and cultures survive?
After Coal profiles inspiring individuals who are building a new future in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky and South Wales. This hour long documentary invites viewers to the front lines of the transition from fossil fuels.

  • Tom Hansell
    The Electricity Fairy, Coal Bucket Outlaw
  • Patricia Beaver and Tom Hansell
  • Hywel Francis, Helen Lewis, John Gaventa,
    Key Cast
  • Sally Rubin, Tom Hansell, Rebecca Branson Jones
  • Ben Sollee, Cor Meibion Onllwyn, The Higher Ground Choir, 9Bach, and more
  • Southern Documentary Fund
    Fiscal Sponsor
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    57 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    January 31, 2016
  • Production Budget:
    240,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United Kingdom, United States
  • Language:
    English, Welsh
  • Shooting Format:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Virginia Film Festival
    Charlottesville, VA
    United States
    November 5, 2016
  • Louisville International Festival of Film
    Louisville, KY
    United States
    October 14, 2016
  • Athens International Film and Video Festival
    Athens, Ohio
    April 7, 2016
    North American Premiere (#1)
  • West Virginia International Film Festival
    South Charleston, WV
    October 21, 2015
    work-in-progress screening
    invited program
  • Hay Festival
    Hay-on-Wye, Wales
    May 27, 2016
    United Kingdom Premiere
    invited program
  • Princeton Environmental Film Festival
    Princeton, NJ
    April 7, 2016
    North American Premiere (#2)
Director Biography - Tom Hansell

After Coal director Tom Hansell is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose work has been broadcast nationally on public television and screened at international film festivals. His documentary Coal Bucket Outlaw was broadcast on US public television and screened in China and Indonesia. His most recent documentary, The Electricity Fairy, screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010 and was selected by the SouthArts for the Southern Circuit tour of independent filmmakers. After Coal is Hansell’s first international project.

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Director Statement

What happens when fossil fuels such as coal and oil are depleted? How do coal mining communities adapt and survive? As a filmmaker who has spent my career living and working in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky, these questions are close to my heart. I have a stake in the communities that are facing the limits of our fossil fueled economy.

To explore the challenges facing communities in transition, I traveled to South Wales, where most coal mines shut down after the 1984-1985 miners’ strike, and met inspiring individuals who have fought to rebuild their local economy. After Coal explores the successes and the failures of Welsh programs to clean up mine waste, retrain miners, and develop wind farms – comparing these efforts to similar projects planned in Appalachia. Original and traditional music from both regions underscores stories of tragedy laced with hope, revealing the uncommon strength that has allowed these two cultures to survive in the harshest of conditions. I believe that comparing the Welsh and Appalachian experience with coal will help us see a future beyond fossil fuels.

To see my past work, go to