In this documentary “whodunit,” investigative filmmaker Cullen Hoback travels to West Virginia to study the unprecedented loss of clean water for over 300,000 residents, nearly half the population of the state. In 2014, a mysterious chemical leaked into the Elk River, contaminating the drinking water. Hoback discovers a shocking failure of regulatory framework from both state and federal agencies and a wrecked political system. While he’s in West Virginia, a similar water crisis strikes Flint, Michigan supporting the case that the entire system to protect drinking water in America is fundamentally broken. Trying to get answers about what happened, he descends into a rabbit hole of government laziness, chemical corporation collusion, and a nightmare conclusion about what might lie upstream. Subtitles
Without the crisis in Flint, I doubt I ever would have come to understand the totality of the problem: to see that West Virginia wasn’t some hyperbolic example of what happens when deregulation runs its course and where political pressure overrides scientific evidence and public health. I came to learn that chemicals and their safety in the environment, as revealed through the regulators, politicians, and lobbyists, are really a legal matter, one masked under the pretense of science. I ended up exploring themes similar to my previous film, Terms and Conditions May Apply, my fascination with the intersection of technology and law becoming a central theme.
Director’s Statement: Cullen Hoback
Sponsored by Ashland Food Co-op