Last March, Working Films announced the fourteen mini-grantees for the Reel Power Film Festival, a series of documentaries that bring you stories from the frontline of our energy future. Organizations hosted Reel Power events to encourage cross-pollination of grassroots organizing strategy and to inspire their communities to leverage local resources and networks.

Here are some of the exciting report backs that we’ve received from the first screenings:

Frack Free Catskills is a group fighting fracking in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Communities, as well as throughout New York State. They organized a conference that brought together organizations opposing coal, gas, nuclear energy, and tar sands in order for various communities to gain strength and inspiration from each other in similar struggles. The Reel Power Film Festival (RPFF) kicked off their conference. They screened Dirty Business and hosted a panel discussion afterwards with filmmaker Peter Bull along with Donna Branham of Keeper of the Mountains, Wes Gillingham of Catskill Mountain Keeper, Manna Jo Greene of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Paul Gallay of Riverkeeper, and Duncan Meisel of 350.org. The conversation revolved around local actions needed to resist coal and other fossil fuels. They will continue to show the films in a series in order to keep the local energy and participation high.

Mass Energy Consumers Alliance is a 30-year old nonprofit organization dedicated to making energy more affordable and environmentally sustainable. The RPFF screenings of Dirty Business and Gasland engaged audiences in their work to support the development of community-based wind and solar projects, as well as their efforts to make the state coal-free. The mini-grant supported action events, including a tour of a wind turbine, voter education on energy legislation and an opportunity for audience members to sign up for green electricity.

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition is a statewide organization that works to end mountaintop removal and other coal industry abuses. The first of their 4-part RPFF series kicked off with Gasland earlier this summer. They used the opportunity to educate the audience on public hearings scheduled to discuss the issue of surface mining.

Gaining Ground Sustainability Institute of MS is a relatively new organization that provides opportunities to learn, experience first-hand, and find new ways in improving lives through sustainable choices. Gaining Ground, in partnership with the Students for Sustainable Campuses, hosted screenings of all of the Reel Power films and trailers  in conjunction with the community and university Earth Week events. Each film included a Q&A where audience members were invited to join the organization’s sustainability efforts, with several folks signing on as new members.

Clean Water for NC works to promote clean, safe water and environments as well as empowered, just communities for all North Carolinians. Gasland and Split Estate were screened by CWFNC with Yadkin Riverkeeper and the Dan River Basin Association in two rural communities that are currently gaining the interest of gas companies. The local news covered their first screening where a local resident commented: “I think watching [Gasland] should be a requirement before allowing anyone to sign a lease allowing fracturing on their property. It just makes no sense to think about maybe trading a little energy now for no water forever.” Several volunteers signed up to approach local government officials in nearby towns and counties about passing resolutions against fracking and 60 people, representing most of the households present, signed up to receive weekly “Frackupdates” about state and national events, advocacy opportunities and news summaries.

If you would like to catch one of the RPFF’s screenings, be sure to check out the Working Films Calendar for updates.

September 13th, 7 pm
Dirty Business
511 West Main St, Appalachia VA 24216
Hosted by Southern Appalachian Stewards (SAMS) with a discussion and ways to get involved.

September 16th, 6:30 pm
Deep Down
Historic Oak Hill School
140 School Street, Oak Hill, WV 25901
Hosted by Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition with a discussion and ways to get involved.

September 17, 6 pm – 10 pm
Reel Power Film Festival at Union College
Union College Student Center
310 College St, Barbourville, KY

September 20th, 7 pm
Deep Down
511 West Main St, Appalachia VA 24216
Hosted by Southern Appalachian Stewards (SAMS) with a discussion and ways to get involved.

September 28th, 7 pm
Split Estate
Unity by the Sea, 901 Brawner Parkway, Corpus Christi, TX 78411
Hosted by the Texas Drought Project and a Q&A with special guest Sharon Wilson, Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project and more.


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