A Documentary Short by Clara B. Pena

About the Film

Of Apples and Anthracite, set in Paonia, Colorado, is a documentary about developmental pressures on rural communities. It’s the story of grandparents, parents, children, and grandchildren--why they move to a place like Paonia, why they stay, why they leave, and why they return.

"And then there’s that feeling you get when you drive across the Continental Divide -- Colorado's Western Slope opening up beneath you. It’s like a weight has lifted, and you can breathe again.

I suppose we were like many of the families that call Paonia home: hard-working, mostly happy, and lucky to have found our elsewhere. But today, Paonia finds itself at a crossroads. Closing coal mines and potential oil and gas leases have shaken the valley. How will we create a resilient economy that's good for the people and the land? Do we pursue a solar or agricultural niche? Nurture an economy based on tourism? Extract coal, oil, and gas? And how will all this impact the next generations?" -Boyd Boland, Narrator, Of Apples and Anthracite

A Union Pacific coal train passes through the North Fork Valley. Behind the train, in the distance, stand the iconic Mount Lamborn and Land's End mountain peaks.
"[This project] responds to the growing desire of artists and arts organizations to use their creativity and talents to make a difference in their community. At the same time those engaged in issues like education, poverty, public safety and health increasingly are looking to the arts as a partner in their work."

-Gary Steuer, Bonfils-Stanton

“I think our community’s story has the potential to resonate with people across Colorado and the globe because, as James Joyce put it, 'in the particular is contained the universal.' Our valley’s struggle is the universal struggle for survival and prosperity. I hope the film allows people from many perspectives to celebrate the history of our valley while reimagining our economic future.”

-Clara Boland Pena, Director/Producer

For full details about the Inspired: Art at Work project, please visit elsewherestudios.org/inspired-art-at-work.