penelope buitenhuis - writer / director
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Based on the real events following the 1992 strike vote at Giant Mine, a Yellowknife gold mine in Canada's North West Territories, where miners make big money working in challenging conditions. Rather than back down to union demands, American mining magnate Peggy Witte hires strike breakers, contracts Pinkerton security forces to patrol the mine gates and then sits back to watch union members turn on each other and the town tear itself apart. After numerous valient attempts by the idealist protagonist Jim O'Neil to bring the two sides together, an explosion claims the lives of nine miners who crossed the picket line set up by members of CASAW (Canadian association of Smelter and Allied Workers). The angry striker, Roger Warren, is eventually convicted of second-degree murder for setting the bomb and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 20 years. GIANT MINE presents the age-old dilemna: whether to swallow your pride and pay the bills or stand by your co-workers, even if it cost you your job. But it not the age-old story of oppressed worker and the nasty owner but a contemporary tragedy about greed and the inability two warring factions to see the perspective of the other. Nominated for a Gemini for best film, GIANT MINE received critical acclaim in both Canada and the UK.

"I was hired as the leftie who would inject a balance into the film between the Union's leftist demands and the owner's right-wing actions and thus reveal the guilt of both sides under pressure from a relentless market economy.

As a filmmaker engaging in political narrative, the question of how to integrate politics artistically is constantly posed. Awareness of the present disinterest and cynicism demands story telling innovation. Having worked with national public television in both Canada with the CBC, and in Germany with ZDF, where the cultural mandate is supposed to out weigh purely commercial intent, the challenge of representing political concepts in digestable narrative is ongoing."

Penelope Buitenhuis

"Produced by the CBC, GIANT MINE is a superbly crafted, character driven thriller in which capitalism at its most elementary and most brutal is pitted against an equally repugnant form of trade unionism."

John Haslett Cuff, Globe and Mail, Toronto

Penelope can be reached in Canada through her agent
Carl Liberman (Toronto)
Tel: 416-964-8522 fax: 416-964-8206

Copyright © 2011 Penelope Buitenhuis
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