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Above All Else (2014)

One man risks family and future to stop the tar sands of the Keystone XL pipeline from crossing his land. Shot in the forests, pastures, and living rooms of rural East Texas, Above All Else... See full summary »


John Fiege


John Fiege

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »




Credited cast:
Julia Trigg Crawford Julia Trigg Crawford ... Herself (activist)
David Daniel David Daniel ... Himself
Eleanor Fairchild Eleanor Fairchild ... Herself (activist)
Garrett Graham Garrett Graham ... Himself (activist)
Julia Butterfly Hill Julia Butterfly Hill ... Herself (tree sitter) (archive footage)
Ben Kessler Ben Kessler ... Himself (activist)
Bill McKibben ... Himself (TarSandsAction.org) (archive footage)
Barack Obama ... Himself (archive footage)
Susan Scott Susan Scott ... Herself (Texas landowner)
Ron Seifert Ron Seifert ... Himself (Tar Sands Blockade spokesperson)
Cindy Spoon Cindy Spoon ... Herself (activist) (rumored)


One man risks family and future to stop the tar sands of the Keystone XL pipeline from crossing his land. Shot in the forests, pastures, and living rooms of rural East Texas, Above All Else follows David Daniel, a retired high-wire artist, as he rallies neighbors and environmental activists to join him in a final act of brinkmanship: a tree-top blockade of the controversial pipeline. What begins as a stand against corporate bullying becomes a rallying cry for climate protesters nationwide. As in his previous film, Mississippi Chicken, director John Fiege puts a human face on a complex case of social injustice, again capturing the South in its beauty and contradiction and revealing the intimate, often unfathomable, experience of creating social change at the grassroots. Written by Anonymous

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Documentary | Drama



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Release Date:

10 March 2014 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Texas, USA

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Fiege Films See more »
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User Reviews

A Provocative Film about the Radical Idealistic Activists Fighting the Keystone XL Pipeline
15 March 2014 | by JustCuriositySee all my reviews

Above All Else was warmly-received at its world premiere at Austin's SXSW Film Festival. The film offers a powerful indictment of the dangers and negative impact of the construction of this pipeline. However, rather than dealing with some of the realistic political strategies that could be used to fight the construction of the pipeline, the film focuses in on some of the more idealistic radical – and frankly naive – environmental activists who think they can stop the pipeline construction through East Texas by sitting on the top of trees, chaining themselves to trucks, and crawling into pipelines. Their idealism is admirable, but they need some lessons in practical politics. Their whole quest is so clearly doomed from the start that it makes very little political sense. The landowners who initially host themselves eventually give up under legal pressure from TransCanada and the local sheriff. The film spends too much time on the quixotic efforts of the activists instead of focusing on the more practical efforts to organize much larger groups of people online and across the country. Massive campaigns of civil disobedience combined with legislative action to change the eminent domain laws and influence the Congress and the President would be much more useful. Perhaps, the film footage wouldn't be as interesting as kids building tree houses, but it would be a more practical way to advance their cause. In general, the film went on a bit too long with repetitive footage that could have been edited down by 15-30 minutes. Activists, including film makers, who seek to achieve social change should focus on the practical politics rather than Utopian idealism. It is easy to cheer for young idealistic activists fight an evil corporation, but it is a waste of time and effort when they adopt ineffective and wasteful strategies like these. I wish the film makers also tried to focus on strategies that stood a chance in fighting the pipeline and advancing the larger struggle to prevent climate change.

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