When we left the theatre after seeing Wiebo’s War at VIFF (The Vancouver International Film Festival) the main thing on our lips was “that man is incredibly well spoken,” followed by “that is a seriously difficult situation”.
Wiebo Ludwig is a stranger to few who live in BC and Alberta. The articulate bearded man was framed as a radical Christian reverend after an oil and gas company began doing extractions near his property back in the 90s. In this 94 minute long documentary directed by David York, the story of Wiebo’s home and family is fleshed out – from their settling of Trickle Creek Farm to their ongoing ‘war’ with the oil and gas industry.
Originally having settled Trickle Creek as two families who wanted to live their Christian beliefs, the Trickle Creek Farm has expanded to more than 50 family members and three generations. The community is self-sufficient in food and electricity, it remains isolated from its neighbours in northern Alberta, and has overtime become located in the centre of Canada’s oil patch.
Adamant Christian fundamentalists, Wiebo’s kin came into conflict with the oil and gas industry after sour gas wafting downwind over their property caused both livestock and family members to become ill and consistently miscarry.
Director David York walks a cautious relationship with the family, suspicious of outsiders (they always videotape encounters with police), in the end creating a somewhat ambiguous portrait of a sincere, concerned, media-savvy, and carefully guarded family.