The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has refocused national attention on oil, and the environmental impact of man-made disasters. A similar drama is playing out in Alberta, where the oil-rich tar sands are the site of controversy between activists and developers. It’s the site of the world’s largest industrial, capital, and energy project, where the extraction methods require landscape alteration on a grand scale. There is no spill here, but the impact of drilling is similarly devastating. Filmmaker Peter Mettler sides with the activists, and for the most part lets the camera do the talking. Shot entirely from a helicopter surveying from above, Petropolis (2009, 43 min.) offers a privileged perspective that is at once awesome and terrifying.
Also on the program: La Presa (The Dam), by Jorge Rivero, shows how growth has returned to a flooded valley, and how the remnants of industry create a spectacle of decay and nostalgia against the lush green backdrop (2008, 16 min.).