Director's Statement

The Electricity Fairy examines the human costs of our dependence on fossil fuels. The seeds of this project were archival footage left on the cutting room floor from my 2002 documentary Coal Bucket Outlaw. I spent several years experimenting with creating a new film entirely from old footage, without success.

In 2006 I learned that Dominion Power proposed to build a coal fired power plant in neighboring Wise County, Virginia. I spent the next three years in Wise County with my camera following each step of the process for approving the power plant. During this time I worked closely with local citizens who were fighting the power plant as well as government officials who were promoting the plant. Both parties believed that they were working to better their home community.

However, examining the controversy from a historical perspective revealed that Dominion’s power plant was just one more example of the economic development philosophy that has lead to the social and environmental problems that have plagued the Appalachian coalfields for the past century. I use archival footage to illustrate these connections and to provide a bit of humorous relief.

I hope that after viewing The Electricity Fairy audience members will start to explore their personal connection to the energy we consume.

Thomas S. Hansell is a documentary filmmaker and installation artist who lives and works in the Appalachian Mountains. Hansell teaches Appalachian Studies and Documentary Studies at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, and has twenty years experience at the Appalshop media arts center working with students and adults to create media about their communities. Hansell has taught community video workshops in throughout the U.S as well as in China and Indonesia.

Hansell’s documentary work has been broadcast nationally on public television and has screened at international film festivals. He is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hansell’s documentary Coal Bucket Outlaw was broadcast on public television in 30 states. His most recent documentary project, The Electricity Fairy, screened at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2010 and was recently selected by the Southern Arts Association for the Southern Circuit tour of independent filmmakers.