KIVALINA VS. EXXON (Ben Addelman). 82 minutes. Opening Friday (July 15). For venues and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
This eco doc tells an important story about small-town resistance to big-business polluters, but it never really finds its focus.
Climate change has destroyed a way of life for the 400 Inupiat Eskimos of Kivalina, Alaska. The winter sea ice is receding along the coastline, making it impossible for whaling crews to operate. It's great for the oil companies - ice gets in the way of drilling. In the meantime, runoff from the Red Dog mine is decimating the fish population. Basically, the town is dying.
Local activists are taking the corporations responsible for emitting greenhouse gases to court - including Exxon, Chevron and Shell. All they ask for is funds to relocate the village.
But what the filmmakers call an epic struggle is given short shrift as the doc meanders from the village community centre to its alienated youth (native kids rapping is the new cliché in eco docs) to the activists' trip to the climate change conference in Copenhagen.
There's little about the case, still not settled, and even less about the villagers' fascinating law team - which defended Philip Morris in its famous tobacco suit - and not enough about the village activists' struggle with Alaskans who are thrilled that corporations are giving them jobs.
It does, however, have a shit-kicking activist as its centrepiece. Colleen Swan is passionate, articulate and always riveting. Too bad the same can't be said of the movie.