Triple Divide is a tremendously moving film. To hear landowners and farmers speak of having their land rights and human rights violated was powerful and upsetting. I appreciate their willingness to honestly describe what they're going through. Their testimonies, along with the demonstration at the beginning of the film of how fracking representatives approach landowners, give audiences an idea of our collective vulnerability to the manipulations and deceptions of an uncaring and immoral industry. However, at the end of the film, one man's clarion call reminds us that we can always develop our collective strength. I love the bold and inspiring declaration of the landowner who says he will not succumb without a fight. That's what we all have to do to the extent that we are able: intelligently and peacefully resist. I think it's great that the film emphasizes the importance of high quality and exceptional streams and bodies of water that are being threatened by fracking operations and a lack of state protection. Perhaps the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) should be prosecuted for failing to punish industry/ company violations of the commonwealth laws in its state and endangering these vital water sources, aquifers, and thus the public health. Hopefully, residents will place more pressure on the DEP to execute its responsibilities in a more transparent and timely fashion. Triana Energy should refer to themselves not as "21st Century Explorers" but as 21st Century Colonizers. In fact, all of the natural gas companies depicted in the film could be labeled as 21st Century Colonizers as their profit-driven and short-term interests drive their destructive exploitation of already established communities.
I drove through Pennsylvania on the turnpike early Saturday. Past the billboards for “Affordable coal energy: Increasingly green and always red, white and blue” and “Wind dies, sun sets. You need reliable, affordable, clean coal electricity.” Past the giant wind turbines on the mountain ridge near Somerset. I picked up my brother in Pittsburgh, a frack-free zone, and headed for the western Pennsylvania premier of the film “Triple Divide” at the Butler Area Public Library. This part of the state is not frack-free. “Triple Divide” the documentary is impressive and disturbing storytelling about the free-for-all that is fracking in Pennsylvania. Triple divide the natural phenomenon sends the waters in fracked Potter County, Pa., into three North American watersheds. At this juncture, the Allegheny River heads west to the Ohio River and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico, the Genesee River finds its way north to Lake Ontario, and the west branch of the Susquehanna River winds southeast through Maryland and into the Chesapeake Bay. As filmmaker Melissa Troutman says in the movie’s narration, “For the triple divide, everything is downstream.” These rivers form the ecological foundation for life in the region, not to mention providing drinking water for millions in and beyond the region.
With high-profile activists like Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon taking a stand against fracking, the controversial drilling practice has been pulled from the periphery and placed in the public's main line-of-sight at a scale sparking movement from Hollywood. Promised Land, a film starring Matt Damon as a salesman for a natural gas company, hits theaters tonight, lending cinematic drama to the issue of fracking. While the large-scale exposure is valuable, Melissa Troutman, co-creator of another film on fracking, is careful to iterate an important fact, "Promised Land is a story, but this [Triple Divide] is a true story." Triple Divide, a documentary by Joshua Pribanic and Melissa Troutman of Public Herald, carefully investigates the effects of fracking in the Marcellus Shale Region of Pennsylvania from the ground up, focusing its lens on the true accounts of neighbors who have lost their water well to contamination from drilling, and farmers, like the ones in Promised Land, who have lost their land to pollution from a nearby well pad. In their first live interview about the film, journalists Joshua and Melissa discussed Triple Divide and the impact of fracking with Stefanie Spear, Founder and Editor of EcoWatch, a news service designed to promote and build a community of grassroots environmental activism. You can watch the full interview above or at EcoWatch.
For us at Public Herald, 2012 was the ‘Year of the Snake.’ We’ve been intimately connected to water while shooting and editing our first documentary film Triple Divide, that began as a small project in 2011 but blossomed into a 95-minute Public Herald Studios production about fracking in the Marcellus Shale region. Like the water snake, we’ve been holed up in our Pennsylvania editing “den” for much of the year, only venturing out to devour necessary sustenance — truth and creativity — as the drama of deep shale extraction unfolds. Snakes get a bad rap, even in the oil and gas industry. Timber rattlesnakes are an issue near drill rigs in the mountain regions of northern and central PA, but are also protected as a vulnerable keystone-state species due to habitat destruction. “So what?” some may say, “what’s so bad about less poisonous snakes?” But snakes are only poisonous if you’re bitten. And the best prevention from a bite is being aware of, and intimately connected to, one’s surroundings.
Filmed over nearly three years, WASTE LAND follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world's largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores”—self-designated pickers of recyclable materials. Muniz’s initial objective was to “paint” the catadores with garbage.
Photojournalist Mimi Chakarova, who grew up in Bulgaria, takes us on a personal investigative journey, exposing the shadowy world of sex trafficking from Eastern Europe to the Middle East and Western Europe. Filming undercover and gaining extraordinary access, Chakarova illuminates how even though some women escape to tell their stories, sex trafficking thrives. The film will premiere in spring 2011.