Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling
Big Sky Doc 2018
SF DocFest, Docutah, Chagrin Doc, AmDocs
A North Dakota family and their community fight plans to develop an oil refinery in their backyard.
Fracking has become a largely accepted part of life and a boon to North Dakota’s economy since the discovery of a massive oil field in 2006, but it comes with consequences. Baghdadi and Hammerling examines the impact of the oil boom on the small community of Trenton, where local ranchers face the choice between giving up long-held family farms and land, or cashing in for the short-term financial benefits. At the core of the film is Kalie Rider and her family, who emerges as an unlikely leader in the fight to stop the construction of an oil processing plant, spearheaded by North Dakota Processing’s Mel Falcon, who has made headway in rezoning requests and in convincing others in the community to sell their land. While the film struggles at times to enliven what amounts to numerous scenes of public hearings and meetings, the conflict facing Trenton serves as a thoughtful microcosm for larger national questions around energy, economic growth, and land use.