It's been a tough summer for many here in the Cariboo Chilcotin region of BC. Forest fires resulted in evacuations of entire towns and thousands of people, myself included. We are finally home and safe but still under an evacuation alert. As we approach the 3rd anniversary of the Mt Polley mine disaster we need your help more than ever. The funds raised through this campaign will help complete the feature length documentary, Turbidity. In the end this film is not about one mine or one disaster. It is about the kind of world we want for ourselves and our children. This is a 30 day all or nothing campaign to raise at least 10,000 dollars towards production. Thank you for your support, it really does make a difference!
Robert E Moberg
It was August 4th, 2014 - The provincial news media called me requesting video footage of an “incident” at the Mt. Polley gold and copper mine near my hometown of Williams Lake. Not knowing what to expect I quickly grabbed a camera and set out on the short flight via helicopter. We were stunned to find the mine's lake sized tailings pond had burst through its massive earthen dam. With a thunderous roar that lasted almost twelve hours, millions of cubic meters of contaminated water and toxic sludge rushed into the pristine waters of Quesnel Lake. Hundreds of trees snapped off by the powerful torrent now littered the shoreline and drifted in huge piles. A terrible plume of green tailings water stained the lake’s surface for miles. The scene was one of incomprehensible devastation. The footage we captured went national and the story was out.
The Mt Polley mine disaster is a story I am deeply involved with and personally connected to. Quesnel lake is a special place for my family, it’s waters hold a lifetime of memories. This is a story I am eager, ready and well equipped to tell. The story will be portrayed with an emotional depth requiring much more creative expression than standard face-to-camera interviews and B-roll. The decision to film Turbidity using a more artistic and perhaps even poetic approach is precisely why I am reaching out to private funders. This style will be very well suited for both film festivals and broadcasters substantially broadening the film’s reach. Opening with scenes captured during the disaster will provide an introduction and context to the story. Powerful imagery along with voice over from actual news reports will set up the narrative very effectively.
Although the event itself is tragic the mood and tone will often be one of reverence for the sheer beauty of nature. Narration will serve not to explain but to add a dimension of intimacy and at times,wonder. Through a poetic lens we see the convergence of a varied group of individuals affected by the disaster and share their unique connections to this special place. Scenes will include researchers as they travel the lake by boat, sampling water quality and collecting post breach data with sophisticated equipment. They carry out their work with clinical, unbiased professionalism but with subtle close ups we see they are visibly awestruck and humbled by their surroundings. Through the eyes of local First Nations we will discover the very spiritual relationship they have had with the lake and its ancient cedar forests. Our storyline and images will include grizzly bears chasing salmon on the beautiful Mitchell river, follow a rally of local citizens as they paddle the lake in support of healthy watersheds and explore abandoned ghost towns and hydraulic mining sites, scars left on the landscape from a bygone era. Although turbidity is a technical term used in water quality measurements, I hope to reveal an emotional turbidity, brought on by the lingering psychological effects of the disaster. In the scene below we follow a local lodge owner, still changing his sludge laden water filters every two weeks - three years after the disaster.
In this film I will endeavour to express through images, sounds and intimate conversations, that which cannot be easily expressed - the transcendent connection between the human psyche and the natural world. A connection that is there waiting for us, in spite of our tragic attempts to sever it.
Globally there is a heightened awareness and concern for our environment that seems to conflict with our consumer driven economies. Turbidity is a socially relevant and timely film with Amnesty International and the United Nations recently condemning the disaster as a “ breach of human rights.” Thousands of Canadians are aware of the Mt. Polley mine disaster and continue to watch the story unfold. Recent permits allow for a continuous discharge of tailings water into Quesnel Lake. Tailings ponds throughout Canada and internationally are not only a threat to the environment the clean up costs are being passed on to taxpayers. The film’s message and subtext will be self evident and clear without being overtly political. It is my hope to reveal the deeper story of humankind’s tenuous but vital bond with the natural world. While the basic news value of the Mt Polley mine disaster is important, I have seen deeper, more intimate stories emerge in its aftermath. The stories are told by looking into the eyes of those affected, seeing the resilience of nature and listening to the awe-inspiring silence of a very special place. These are the stories that will resonate with viewers. Most of us know nature plays an important role in our lives. Memories from childhood can become an indelible part of who we are. It seems at times mother nature is like the doting parent of a spoiled child. No matter the transgression she forgives and opens her arms with unconditional love. We can only hope she continues to forgive us.
Robert E Moberg
Risks and challenges
I have immersed myself in many facets of independent filmmaking including acting, writing, directing and producing for almost two decades. My passion for wildlife conservation and environmental awareness has been demonstrated with the feature documentary, “Bighorns at the Junction”. https://vimeo.com/130399885 This very personal film, shot on location near Williams Lake, BC is being recognized for its engaging narrative and has been acquired by the CBC. Filmed over a two year period in the rare grasslands of the Chilcotin in British Columbia, it is as much a story about the filmmakers life changing reconnection with nature as it is about the declining Bighorn herds in the area. To date, it has won best environmental film at the Cayman International Film Festival, been selected for screening by the Wildlife Conservation Film Festival in New York and nominated for best cinematography by the Sunrise Film Festival in Nova Scotia. My most recent documentary “Giants Among Us - Rick Hansen and the Great White Sturgeon” https://vimeo.com/198250938 has been acquired for broadcast by the CBC Documentary Channel. We follow the incredible journey of a 150 year old sturgeon living in BC’s Fraser river as Rick Hansen and others work to save her species. My hope is to continue making films that make a difference by exploring stories set in the world of nature. Films that draw our thoughts and ultimately our actions away from an unsustainable, consumer driven world. Stories that highlight individuals from all walks of life working to make a better world for us all.
Producing a feature documentary on a small budget is not an easy task. I know the challenges ahead but I am committed to completing this film. I live very near to the locations I will be filming so travel and accommodation costs will be minimal. I own most of the gear I need and have the proven technical skills to complete a broadcast ready film. This is a passion project - we should not forget about environmental disasters just because they fall out of the news cycle.
We can make a difference... Together.
- (30 days)