Coming to theatres tomorrow, Friday, January 12:
WHAT LIES UPSTREAM
Hot Docs, Seattle, AFI Docs, Traverse City, Dallas, Sonoma, Ashland
The filmmaker investigates the coverup behind drinking water contamination in West Virginia.
Hoback, taking a crusading Michael Moore/Josh Fox approach, appears throughout his film as an onscreen guide and narrator – an unnecessarily excessive and at times clumsy device – as he tries to get to the bottom of a spill that took place in early 2014 in Charleston’s Elk River which might never have been revealed save for a distinctive licorice smell in the drinking water. Fingers point to Freedom Industries, but Hoback suspects the chemical company is a convenient fall guy for a much deeper problem. The filmmaker finds compelling figures in local health department head Dr Rahul Gupta, who questions the safety of the contaminated water despite state official reassurances; and in Randy Huffman, head of WV’s Department of Environmental Protection, who is surprisingly open about how the organization primarily serves to help corporate exploitation of resources. Hoback’s digging revels the collusion of corporate interests with the government, evidence of regulatory capture in a broken system that works for industry rather than the public good.