We are excited to announce an upcoming, feature-length documentary about Centralia, PA. Titled Centralia, Pennsylvania’s Lost Town, the documentary is being directed by Joe Sapienza II and is slated for release in the spring of 2016 [Update: Film to be released in Spring ’17].
- Watch a 17 minute preview of Centralia, Pennsylvania’s Lost Town [Unfortunately, this has been removed due to copyright infringement]
- View the film’s IMDB page
Sapienza’s interest in Centralia began while attending school at Drexel University. There, he made a short film about the town for a class project. After completing the short and graduating, Sapienza’s interest in Centralia, PA only grew stronger.
In the fall of 2014, he partnered with Bobby Hughes at EPCAMR in order to cleanup what remains of the town. Together with a group of volunteers, the team helped to remove nearly five tons of garbage from the borough. It was also during this time that Sapienza decided to turn his class project into a feature-length documentary film.
Centralia, Pennsylvania’s Lost Town covers the complete history of Centralia and the neighboring town of Byrnesville. The film uses historic photographs, vintage film reels, and narration to take viewers back in time, before an underground mine fire ravaged the area.
The film charts the course of the fire, from its beginnings in the town landfill through the contentious politics that eventually tore apart Centralia’s tight-knit community. Finally, the documentary follows the story of the mine fire to the present day, including the relocation of residents, years of lawsuits, and the status of the six homes and four families who currently live in Centralia.
Centralia, Pennsylvania’s Lost Town has over 20 interviews from current and former residents, lawyers, coal company representatives, and state officials. The film also captures the modern fascination with Centralia and its tragic mine fire, including why thousands tourists flock to the town each year.
According to Sapienza, the film should be in post-production by this summer and will be released in early 2016. There will be two private preview screenings for those involved in the film, as well as for former and current residents of Centralia. These will be held at EPCAMR’s headquarters in Ashley, PA and at one of the local historical societies in the area.
The movie’s crew includes:
- Executive Producer / Director: Joe Sapienza II
- Producer: Melissa Kosmaczewski
- Producer: Allyson Kircher
- Assistant Producer: Kimberly Schwartz
- Camera Operators: Melina Smith, Brian Sullivan, Joe Sapienza, Brian Keenan, Connor Bordiga.
- Assistant Camera: Kayla Hoover
- Grip: Curtis Donar, Caitlin King, Rachel Tinkleman
- Gaffer: Austin Lepri
- Sound: Ian Jabour, Dominic Zappalla, Tim Watson, Brian Sullivan, Ed Rzepski
- Music By: John Avarese, Ed Rzepski, Dave Moore, Brian Adams
- Production Assistant: Isabelle Dzwonczyk
- Narrated By: Eric Herr (KYW News Radio)
Sapienza’s unique cinematic style along with his passion for Centralia and its people are sure to shine through in the film. Upon its release, Centralia, Pennsylvania’s Lost Town will be required viewing for anyone curious about Centralia, Byrnesville, or the mine fire that has ravaged these communities for over 50 years.
Special thanks to Joe Sapienza II for providing the images and stills features in this article.