Butte, America: The Saga of a Hard Rock Mining Town
“Butte, America”, a new film by Emmy-nominated Montana filmmaker Pamela Roberts, tells the epic tale of Butte, Montana, once the world’s largest producer of copper. Butte has been called the town that “plumbed and electrified America,” and the “Pittsburgh of the West.” Co-written by Butte native Edwin Dobb and narrated by Irish actor Gabriel Byrne, BUTTE, AMERICA tells the story of a world-class mining town where corporate capitalism battled organized labor, and human appetite laid waste to land and water, yielding fortunes for a few and a tragic environmental legacy for the people left behind.
These hard working people make up the heart and soul of the Butte story – miners, their families, and the ethnic neighborhoods they created. From battling mine owners to braving the ups and downs of global markets to surviving death, injury, layoffs, and shutdowns, they forged a community whose toughness, vitality and solidarity speak to the unique spirit of the place called “The Richest Hill on Earth”.
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Please visit our Credits Page to see Butte America’s Production Team biographies
Reviews & Press
“Butte, America goes far beyond documentary pictorialism to the deepest kind of fidelity, the spoken lives of copperdom’s miners and their families. The struggles of the one-time world capital of copper are a dramatic and tragic chapter of our national life that every American should know by heart.”
–Ivan Doig, author of English Creek & This House Made of Sky.
“Butte, America captures the gravity and history of the most interesting city in the American West. A memorable film about an unforgettable place.”
–Tom McGuane, author of Nothing but Blue Skies, Gallatin Canyon
“Butte, America is fascinating, mythic, poetic, and ultimately almost overpowering in its utterly relevant presentation of the role of Butte in Montana, United States, and world history. This is an amazing story of community, beauty, and human dignity in the midst of almost ceaseless injustice, and is told with incredible skill.”
–Rick Bass, author of Winter: Notes from Montana, Why I Came West
“Butte, America tells a vivid story of more than a century of industrial exploitation in the heartland of America. It’s about civilization coming into the Western wilderness, no cowboys or Indians but rather mining camp laborers from Cornwall and Ireland and Finland and America who went deeply and courageously under the earth and occasionally lost their lives in order to ensure that corporations and their owners could be wealthy and powerful beyond sensible measure. A combination of historical documentary film interwoven with interviews of living old timers, this film powerfully condemns the cold-hearted methods used to exploit essentially disenfranchised working people in Butte, methods still common in mines around the world. What to say? Glory in the proud survivors, fight against the injustices.”
–William Kittredge, author of Who Owns the West?
“While Montana’s towering mountains, wild rivers and sweeping prairies are wondrous to behold, anyone seeking the heart and soul of the Treasure State needs to go to Butte. Pam Roberts’ stunning documentary about the history of hard rock mining under the ‘Richest Hill on Earth’ is a fascinating investigation of the tragedy of the working man and the criminal greed of copper bosses who sacrificed a city in their insatiable lust for profit.”
–William Hjortsberg, screenwriter, Legend, Angel Heart
The filmmakers “tell the story of Butte not only with epic historical sweep…but also at a very personal level.”
“The film is most affecting in the dignity with which it treats the work of mining itself.”
“As the filmmakers present testimony after testimony of what went into hard rock mining…it becomes easier to understand the strong emotions and attachments that could form around this unique way of life.”
“As punishing and forbidding as so much of the mining life was, and still is…it is possible to feel envious of the strong community spirit that defined Butte.”
–From New West Magazine