New Brunswick

'I was deeply moved': Director hopes to bring anti-fracking film to N.B.

The director of a film about the fight against fracking is hoping to bring the movie to New Brunswick this summer.

The film chronicles a grassroots movement against fracking

An image from the film Water Warriors, a 22 minute film that was screened earlier this year. (Submitted by Debbie Cyr)

The director of a film about the fight against fracking is hoping to bring the movie to New Brunswick this summer.

Water Warriors, a 22 minute film that was screened earlier this year at the Tribeca Film Festival, tells the story of the grassroots movement against oil and gas exploration when Texas-based SWN Resources arrived in New Brunswick in 2013.

Michael Premo, the film's director, said he heard about what was happening in New Brunswick from a friend, and made the decision to come to the province from his home in the United States. 

"I went up there and talked to folks and was really moved by the community so I thought it would be a great story that other people could learn and hear about," he said.

'Deeply moved'

Premo, an activist during the Occupy Wall Street movement, said people were welcoming and eager to have their voices heard.

"I was deeply moved by the situation," Premo said. "I mean, I've covered lots of stories like this and I think one thing in particular that really moved me was that it was action by everyday people and it wasn't necessarily driven by any sort of NGO [non-governmental organization] or organization like that, it was a real citizen-driven conversation which I thought was really moving."

Rachel Falcone (left), executive producer of Water Warriors, Michael Premo, director (centre) and Debbie Cyr of Riverview. (Submitted by Debbie Cyr)

Premo said he shot the film, but had to wait to see how the story ended. That came in 2016, when the New Brunswick government indefinitely extended the province's moratorium on hydraulic fracturing.

Premo finished the film and it was shown at the Tribeca Festival this past April.

'Worked together'

Debbie Cyr is from Elsipogtog but now lives in Riverview. She took part in the 2013 protests, and attended the film festival.

Cyr said the story is an example of how everyone pulled together.

"There were no big leaders on our team, you know, the leader was the earth and we just all listened to everybody's idea and took turns following each other's idea and worked together," said Cyr.

Debbie Cyr on the red carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival. (Submitted by Debbie Cyr)

Premo said in today's changing political climate, people are interested in this kind of story.

"These conversations are happening really on a hyper-local level and don't always get the national attention they deserve so we've been really overwhelmed by the outpouring of interest and support for the story in New Brunswick." Premo said.

'Gearing up'

The film is part of a multimedia presentation that has been travelling around the United States stopping at galleries, museums and art events.

"This summer we're working to bring it to Canada and back to New Brunswick and we're still working on what the distribution will be like but we're gearing up for a kind of North American tour of screenings around communities," he said.

Premo said he's come away with an appreciation for how everyday people can make a difference.

"What I've learned personally is that local communities really do have the power to have meaningful input into local resources in ways I've been really inspired by."