Documentary crew heads to Paris for climate talks

Filmmaker Garrett Graham is a second-year MFA Documentary Film student at the University of North Texas. His short documentary, “Don’t Frack With Denton,” chronicles the historic hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) ban in Denton.

The annual United Nations conference on climate change begins today in Paris, and a local documentary film crew will be heading there later this week.

“Don’t Frack With Denton” is a documentary chronicling the fracking protests, the city’s short-lived ban and its subsequent overturning. It will wrap up filming by following a handful of local residents who were involved with the protests to Paris for the conference.

“Really, it’s a group of Denton friends who are going, who are concerned about their homes, but also care very about the rest of the world,” said director Garrett Graham, who will leave Thursday for Paris. “They want to participate in the struggle against climate change and they want to relate it to the story here in Denton, and that’s something we wanted to bring to our film.”

With Paris still in a state of emergency since the Islamic State terrorist attacks on Nov. 13, public gatherings are banned and will continue to be during the conference.

“I know there will be a great many people disregarding that rule,” Graham said. “We don’t know what to expect, but it will definitely be more tense than it would otherwise be.”

Rather than focus on the conference itself, the crew intends to document the demonstrations and protests surrounding it, as well as networking and organizing between activists from around the world.

“Whenever you have a big, exclusive, elite meeting like this, there are often these parallel opportunities for those who are shut out of those meetings to get together,” Graham said. “Whatever that looks like, and whatever these characters choose to do, we will be there to document that story.”

Graham said the idea is to connect the local issue of fracking in Denton to the global issue of climate change by following Denton protesters to the conference.

“We’re definitely going to have to improvise, we’re going to have to keep our eyes open, and I’m sure some other major things will happen between now and then, but no matter what, it’ll be important, it’ll be historic, and it’ll be a very necessary epilogue to the story we’re telling,” Graham said.

Documentary producer and writer Candice Bernd said the crew will only be in Paris for the final week of the conference, to document reactions and protests to whatever agreements come out of the talks.

“It remains to be seen, what level of protest civil society and other groups will be able to muster under these conditions,” Bernd said.

“It’s a locked-down situation there. It’s a concern, but it’s good to see people being undeterred in the face of this.”

Bernd said that, as of this trip to Paris, filming for the documentary will be finished. The documentary is tentatively slated to be finished in the spring.

“You could end this movie on a real bummer, considering HB 40,” Bernd said, referring to the Texas House bill that overturned Denton’s ban on fracking. “But what we might do is end it on a note of connection, showing how it fits into this bigger global picture.”


RHIANNON SAEGERT can be reached at 940-566-6897 and via Twitter at @missmusetta.

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