Denton Texas recently hosted the Thin Line Film and Music festival. This event boasted and array of high quality films across a multitude of subject areas. My Toxic Backyard was most certainly a standout. Katie Damien, filmmaker and North Carolina resident, wove a captivating tale of industrial negligence perpetrated on the residence of Asheville. Although this film focuses on the residents of North Carolina, the issue of toxic contamination hits close to home for many. Data cited by state and federal organizations indicate that 1 in 4 Americans live within miles of a toxic Superfund Site.
My Toxic Backyard provides a powerful narrative on the rising and disproportionate cancer rates in the Asheville area. The portrayal of the townspeople’s frustration with federal agencies’ inaction and the generational loss of life suffered by families in the area were truly moving. Damien navigates this emotionally laden topic with the precision of a seasoned professional. She allowed the story to unfold organically from the point of view of the residents. The filmmaker’s decision to avoid leading questions or assertions in the absence of data added significant credibility to the story. This documentary is an important statement on not only industrial neglect, but also the power and resiliency of a town that refused to allow their story to be ignored.
Denton Dallas and Beyond
Katie Damien is an award-winning filmmaker with a Bachelor of Arts in film production from the University of Central Florida. Katie has always been known for her creative endeavors, spending much of her childhood performing plays for family members and writing songs that always rhymed, but never made sense. It wasn’t until the ripe age of twelve that she first picked up her uncle’s VHS camera and shot her first short film with her cousins and sister. The movie was so bad, the tape was immediately erased and the movie was never seen. Undeterred, Katie continued to make movies until finally one day someone decided to pay her.
Katie was born and raised in Florida and is currently living in Asheville, North Carolina. She’s been awarded various accolades at film festivals. She’s also won five Southeast Regional Emmy Awards including writing and directing. She does commercial production as well as independent film work. This is her first feature film.