Tribeca Film Festival 2017

“Heartbreaking and enlightening at the same time. A must-watch for everyone because we should all be in this together.”
– Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

From the Ashes

Directed by Michael Bonfiglio

A compelling look at the lives and issues behind the “war on coal,” From The Ashes premiered at the 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and the National Geographic Channel.

Presented by

National Geographic

Produced by

Radical Media

in Partnership with

Bloomberg Philanthropies

Theatrical Trailer

What People Are Saying

“From the Ashes” went on the road to more than a dozen cities around the world for special advance screenings. Here’s what viewers had to say after watching the film.

Featured Song

In 1946, singer-songwriter Merle Travis wrote the song “Dark as a Dungeon” to describe the harsh and dangerous conditions that coal miners experienced every day. American musician, singer-songwriter John Mellencamp recorded a special version of the song in support of From the Ashes.

Where to Watch

From the Ashes is available for purchase on Amazon, iTunes, GooglePlay, Hulu, and other digital platforms, as well as on DVD.


From the Ashes premiered in the United States on the National Geographic Channel on June 25th. If you reside outside the United States, please check your local listings or visit to view the schedule.

Move America Beyond Coal

Join Bloomberg Philanthropies in supporting the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign to secure the retirement of half of the nation’s coal fleet by the end of 2017. The Sierra Club is currently on schedule to meet this goal and continues to make progress despite politics in Washington. The initiative is one of the most effective campaigns to cut carbon emissions in history. It will help the United States speed up the growing shift seen among communities, ratepayers, investors, utilities, and state and local governments to move away from expensive, outdated power plants and towards clean energy solutions.

Voices from the Film

There are many different voices in the conversation around coal. Here are some from the film.

Photo of Carl Pope

Carl Pope

Environmentalist / Author

Coal is an 19th century source of fuel. And we’re in the 21st century.

Photo of Misti O'Quinn

Misti O’Quinn

Dallas, Texas Resident

It’s your lungs. If you don’t breathe, then what?

Photo of Charles Hawkeye Dixon

Charles “Hawkeye“ Dixon

Retired Coal Miner

This country made a promise in 1947, that they would guarantee health care and pension benefits to coal miners if they would work in these here coal mines. Now, we fulfilled our promise. We’ve done it. And a hell of a lot of us died doing it.

Photo of Regina Lilly

Regina Lilly

Lincoln County Resident

Other people are angry because, you know, I mean they are losing everything.

Photo of Michael Oppenheimer

Michael Oppenheimer

Climate Scientist, Princeton University

The warming by the end of this century could be as high as 5 or 6 degrees Celsius. It would be warmer than it’s been since the dinosaurs were dominant more than 65 million years ago, and it’s not clear whether the human endeavor could survive in such a world. It’s now a question of whether we can control which direction it goes, so we can go into a climate friendly world, instead of a climate inferno, basically.

Photo of Louise Carter-King

Louise Carter-King

Mayor of Gillette, Wyoming

At one time they said if we were our own country, we’d be like Saudi Arabia. You know, we’d have as much energy underneath as they do.

Photo of Duane Ankney

Duane Ankney

Montana State Senator

The thing about coal – it’s labor intensive. Somebody’s taking a paycheck home on Friday night, putting shoes on the baby.

Photo of Dow Constantine

Dow Constantine

King County (Washington) Executive

We wanted to do our part, first of all, to reduce climate emissions. That’s what our residents want.

Photo of LJ Turner

LJ Turner


Coal is a wonderful thing, but it comes at a pretty expensive cost.

Photo of Darryl Anderson

Darryl Anderson

Gillette, Wyoming Resident

If we can do something different with it, like clean coal – I don’t know if we can or not – but it could be a very good thing for us if it happens.

Photo of Deborah Graham

Deborah Graham

Salisbury, North Carolina Resident

We live in constant fear every day. Who fears their water?! We don’t live in a third world country. I mean, this is the United States of America here! And we’re fearing our water.

Photo of Brandon Dennison

Brandon Dennison

Coalfield Development Corporation

As a region, we’re not ashamed of powering this country for a hundred years. We’re proud of that and we should be proud of that. But I think that we’re waking up to the realization that if we’re going to survive, we’re going to have to adapt.



Directed By: Michael Bonfiglio
Produced By: Sidney Beaumont
Executive Producers: Jon Kamen, Joe Berlinger, Katherine Oliver, Justin Wilkes
Director of Photography: Ronan Killeen
Edited By: Dave Marcus
Music By: Mark Orton
Co-Producers: Rachel Koteen, Lindsay Firestone
Segment Director: Sidney Beaumont
Consulting Producer: Antha Williams
Archival Producer: Hilary McHone
“Dark as a Dungeon” performed by John Mellencamp