New York documentary makers look to the region to tell the story of America’s oil and gas love affair
By NICK WINCHESTER
MARFA — Although Texas is well-known as the leading oil-producing state, and with the oil-rich fields of the Permian Basin just a few West Texas counties over, Presidio County was barely on the oil map until construction for the Trans-Pecos Pipeline broke ground last May.
Documentary filmmakers Alan Thompson and Jaime Puerta are in the area interviewing community members, activists, land-owners, reporters, park wardens, as well the editor of this newspaper, about what the Trans-Pecos Pipeline has meant for the region.
Thompson, a NYC-based documentary director, whose last film, “The Resettled,” explored the lives of refugees who have settled in the U.S., and who has also made films in Honduras, Sierra Leone, and Liberia, said he wants the film to ask the question, “Just because the pipeline is in the ground, is it over yet?”
During filming at the Marfa Big Bend Sentinel and Presidio International office this week, Thompson asked Robert Halpern to describe the news cycle that occurred around the Trans-Pecos Pipeline. Halpern, from behind his desk, explained how people in Marfa first heard about the pipeline, and went on to describe the resulting activism, as well as the situation now, when just over two months after the pipeline’s completion and opening, Energy Transfer Partners has announced $2.2 million worth of donations to the area.
The West Texas portion of the film makes up one third of the 30-minute documentary-short, which will be screened on the Tzu Chi Foundation’s website.
Tzu Chi, the film’s NGO backers, produce a number of humanitarian and environmentally focused films as well other non-profit activity. The name of the Tzu Chi foundation derives from Chinese, with “tzu” meaning compassion, and “chi” relief.
The documentary’s other two portions will look at the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Native American-based protest movement that grew out of it, as well as the Athabasca oil tar sands, large deposits of heavy crude oil located in northeastern Alberta, Canada.
Working alongside Thompson, Puerta is a cinematographer, originally from Spain but who now calls NYC home. As well as a number of cameras he uses to shoot the film, Puerta has a 360-degree camera he uses to film the behind the scenes moments. He hasn’t used the technology for long, but said it is great and he cannot wait to shoot the wide open West Texas spaces with it.
While the finished film will be a 30-minute documentary-short, Thompson will also edit and release a number of short web-clips. To stay updated and see the pair’s other documentaries, go to the video section of the Tzu Chi Foundation’s website, at https://www.tzuchi.us
Story filed under: Arts
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