Alberta may censor films critical of tar sands

0 Posted by - December 11, 2008 - Blog, Screen

The CBC reports that a new Oscar-short-listed documentary called Downstream has Alberta’s Minister of Propaganda, er, Culture, looking to reform the Alberta Film Development Fund. The documentary, by Leslie Iwerks, is a critical look at the devastatingly negative health impacts the greedy resource-grab is having on local communities living near the tar sands. It seems that the government wasn’t too happy to discover a film they signed off on at a time when the province is spending cash on a global make-over campaign, is critical of the government.

The beautiful Albertan tar sandcape

The beautiful Albertan tar sandcape

But really, who’s not critical of the myopic asses running that province? There’s been a veritable ground swell of media gushing forth that exposes the Alberta government and the tar sands project for what it is: greedy, dangerous, unhealthy, environmentally devastating, costly, and self-interested. This newest piece of critical media tells the story of Dr. O’Connor, the individual who first revealed the high cancer rates occurring in Fort Chipewyan, a town downstream from one of the tar sands project. Unfortunately, the Albertan government, instead of perhaps listening to the criticism and fact-based opposition to the project, is choosing the path of heavy-handed censorship for future film projects. From the CBC, quoting Blackett, the Minister of Culture:

“Because if I’m going to actually invest money on behalf of Albertans into a film, the whole idea is to show Alberta in a better light, to create an economic diversification to help them, so anything that’s going to be negative is only going to be a negative impetus on this province,” he said.

In a better light…sounds more like fiction than documentary. Thankfully it’s too late for the old boys to yank the funding, but we’ll see how much play the film gets in Alberta. I can only hope it wins an Oscar, and that more people, especially Albertans, wake up and rise up to the industrial nightmare being grown in their backyard.

Image: Sierra Club Canada.

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