Friday, September 9, 2011

Movie Review: Windfall

I was with a group of about 150 people at the Gayety theatre in Collingwood for a showing of this award-winning documentary about the effects of a plan for wind power on a small community in upstate New York.

The three women who have secured access to the movie are showing it as often as they can, at small halls around Clearview and elsewhere. They say they don't have an agenda, that they want you to make up your own mind. But I'll tell you, the movie certainly does have an agenda.

While in general, Windfall is well made, at one point the soundtrack was so over the top, I laughed out loud. The scene: a shadow from a turbine's blade repeatedly falling across a kitchen counter. The music swells with each turn of the blade, and as the ominous cellos are bowed in time with the shadows, I suddenly had a vision of JAWS leaping through the kitchen window.

The strongest argument made in the documentary is that turbines are bad because the very discussion of them is divisive, pitting people against one another. But what the movie maker didn't highlight is that those divisions already exist; talk of turbines only brings them up from under the surface.

The divisions come from the vastly different worldview of people come lately to the country compared with that of people trying to make their living from the land. The opponents of turbines make much about how property values will drop if turbines are built. What they maybe don't realise is people who grow food for a living only think about property values when it comes time to sell; when the fight to stay on the land is over. If property values drop, some farmers' grandkids might have a chance to choose farming as a career, and raise their own family on land their great-grandfather used to help feed a nation.

It comes down to: turbine proponents generally want to stay on the land, while opponents generally worry about the view, and rightly so; they paid a pretty penny for those vistas.

It was a bit eerie to hear the very same arguments made in Clearview township being made by people with American accents on the big screen, though. Eerie and strangely heartening. It's good to be reminded that some struggles are universal. It also helps if you're trying to anticipate the outcome.

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