The documentary DIRTY ENERGY by filmmaker and director Bryan D. Hopkins will screen at this year's Dallas International Film Festival in conjunction with the two-year anniversary of the Gulf Coast Oil Spill. The film focuses on the oil spill's continued impact on local fishermen and residents.
DALLAS, April 16, 2012 – On April 20, 2010, several million barrels of oil poured into the ocean as British Petroleum's (BP)Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded off the Gulf of Mexico. Two years later, filmmaker and director Bryan D. Hopkins' award-winning documentary, DIRTY ENERGY, will provide audiences at the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF) with compelling insight into how this disaster has continued to affect those who live and work in the Louisiana Gulf Coast region.
"Like many Americans, I was watching tragedy wreak havoc on a part of the country I'd never even been to, and I felt helpless," said Hopkins. "But helplessness quickly transformed into restlessness, and with nothing but gas money, some groceries and my camera, I got in my car and drove from Detroit to Louisiana, hoping to find a story to tell."
According to Hopkins, an original intent to expose environmental devastation and corporate and governmental error soon shifted into a drive to empower the voices of those who watched a nightmare unfold in their own backyards.
"This story is about people who have worked hard, lived honestly and gotten kicked in the teeth in the end," Hopkins said. "It's a story that should make Americans sit up in their chairs and realize we need to start paying better attention. Much better attention. To where our tax dollars are going, to what the government we elect to represent us is really doing, and to how our own insatiable demand for energy can come back to haunt us, like it did in very real and very tragic ways with the people of the Gulf. This is a story about consequence, in part from our own actions as a citizenship. And it shines an undeniable light on the fact that, at the end of the day, we need to be much more involved."
DIRTY ENERGY, which screens at DIFF on Wed., April 18 at 9:45 pm and Thurs., April 19 at 7:00 pm, provides a unique perspective into the lives of Gulf Coast Louisianans like Dean Blanchard, owner of Dean Blanchard Seafood Inc., the largest shrimp business in the Grand Isle, La. area. "Last winter we had shrimp with no eyes, shrimp with no tails, and we're still not seeing any porpoises, we're not seeing any speckled trout which we've had all my life here," Blanchard said. "The water's not right."
A 20-veteran Gulf Coast commercial shrimper, Margaret Curole has since become instrumental in representing the rights of fishermen and fishing communities in the region through her organization, Commercial Fishermen of America. "Studies have been done to show that in the tar balls there is a bacteria that is causing infection," Curole said. "There are a lot of people who have contracted really bad infections, that's across the board."
Kindra Arnesen, the wife of a Gulf Coast commercial fisherman, has worked for the past two years toward improved safety standards for clean-up workers, fishermen and local residents. "We've been seeing fresh oil ever since this happened, it hasn't [gone] away," said Arnesen. "We have an ongoing oil spill here, and the complacency of the American people that it's ‘fixed' is the reason our families are sick. This is more important than any profit."
Gulf Restoration Network deputy director Aaron Viles has overseen efforts to restore regional coastal wetlands habitat for the past two years. "It's two years later, but it's like nothing has really changed," said Viles. "We still can't find speckled trout in the marshes." According to Viles, local residents continue to struggle with issues surrounding the questionable health impact of the oil spill. "How do you ‘prove' that you were made sick by oil and dispersant…the symptoms are the same as far more common ailments."
DIRTY ENERGY has received acclaim at several national film festivals, including the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (winner: Best Social Justice Documentary), Michigan's Uptown Film Festival (winner: Best Editing), the AMC Theatres® Kansas City FilmFest (winner: Best U.S./International Documentary), the Omaha Film Festival and the Cleveland International Film Festival.
For additional information, visit www.dirtyenergymovie.com or download the official film press kit at http://www.dirtyenergymovie.com/DE_EPK_2012.pdf.
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