Wiebo’s War 2011
Distributed by National Film Board of Canada, 1123 Broadway, Suite 307, New York, NY 10010; 800-542-2164
Produced by David York, Bryn Hughes, Nick Hector, Bonnie Thompson
Directed by David York
DVD, color, 88 min.
Sr. High-General Adult
Canadian Studies, Environmental Studies, Human Rights
Date Entered: 08/03/2012Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH
In 2008 filmmaker David York approached activist Rev. Weibo Ludwig at his Trickle Creek Farm compound in the Peace River area of northern Alberta with the aim of telling Ludwig’s side of his 10 year conflict with the oil and gas industry. Ludwig is widely thought of in Canada as an eco-terrorist based on his conviction for sabotaging gas well sites near his property and his possible connection to the shooting death of a 16 year old girl on his compound in 1999. There have been more than 150 vandalism or sabotage incidents against the oil companies in northern Alberta and British Columbia since 1998.
What drove the leader of a Christian community to react with violence against the gas industry? As shown through York’s cinematography and through home videos, Ludwig felt powerless against an industry that has government license to drill for gas and oil on any land, public or private. An industry that is arrogant enough to tell landowners that they have no recourse, their property rights are meaningless and that the drillers will drill where and when they want to, and with no compensation beyond fees for access roads. Downwind from a site a few yards from the Trickle Creek Farm property line, the Ludwig compound is exposed to sour gas (hydrogen sulfide) from the well and suffers illnesses, spontaneous abortions among their livestock, and the loss of two children (one spontaneous abortion and one stillbirth) in the community. What is one to do when faced with the arrogant indifference of the gas industry, especially when the industry has the full backing of the RCMP? What can Weibo do when local officials hold a town hall meeting in order to denounce him for a gas well bombing that was actually staged by the RCMP in collusion with the gas company?
This video is highly recommended. As fracking in the Marcellus Shale formation impacts property owners in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, residents are pitting themselves against other landowners, the oil companies, and local and state governments. Weibo Ludwig’s fight to preserve his concept of ownership and freedom may resonate with some who resent the intrusion of government and industry in their lives. It is easy to take sides in the fracking debate based on our own research or even the potential for economic gain. This film reminds us that governments and industries can exert a lot of influence over individual citizens, even perhaps to the extent of manipulating facts. While it may be true that the gas companies don’t need to compensate Ohio landowners who find pockets of flammable gases in their tap water since EPA says it can occur naturally, how does one prove the water supply was not contaminated before the drilling started? Obviously, it’s your word against theirs.