In the heart of North Dakota's formidable terrain, an oil boom brings both promise and foreboding. For some, the boom will be their saving grace, for others a devastating misfortune. In a rapidly industrializing landscape, newcomers and long-time residents find themselves in a struggling environment where stakes are high and the future is far from certain.Written by
COUNTERPUNCH, by LOUIS PROYECT, Films on the Lives of Ordinary People
The Socially Relevant Film Festival, 2015 Films on the Lives of Ordinary People by LOUIS PROYECT
Like Zola and Eraldo Pacheco, Doug Wenner is an economic refugee except in his case a refugee in his own country. Looking to be in his late-50s at least, this weather-beaten protagonist of "Black Harvest", a documentary about the personal impact of the fracking boom in North Dakota, has left Montana in search of employment. Showing up virtually homeless in a broken-down Subaru and accompanied by his pet dog, he files applications with the local energy companies that are the leading edge of the economic "miracle" that is fueling international tensions from Venezuela to Russia. While the waters and land of a pristinely beautiful North Dakota are being poisoned, gas is now cheaper than ever—a Faustian bargain if ever there was one. Even after Wenner lines up a job, there is still insecurity since the tacky and overpriced new apartment complexes that have sprung up will not allow pets. He is facing the same choice that we saw in "Wendy and Lucy" when a young woman living out of her car realizes that she will remain homeless unless she gives up her beloved pet dog. Naturally, what makes "Black Harvest" all the more poignant is that it is based on the reality of a modern-day Tom Joad.
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