Local filmmaker Charles Wilkinson has a hearty laugh as he recalls how he first heard about the Peace River and, more specifically, the on-again and off-again Site C dam project in northeastern B.C.
“My dad used to rant and rave about the dam back in the day,” Wilkinson told the Straight by phone. “That was Jack Wilkinson, but he’s gone now. He was a real CCFer, and he hated W.A.C. Bennett and all that.”
Now things have come around full circle from those salad days in Calgary, where Wilkinson grew up. On October 4, at the 2011 Vancouver International Film Festival, Wilkinson and his partner, producer Tina Schliessler, will present their 80-minute movie Peace Out.
The world-premiere screening is at 7 p.m. at Empire Granville 7 Cinemas. (Another screening takes place at 3:20 p.m. on October 6, also at Granville 7.)
The setting for the documentary is the fertile Peace River Valley, home to the proposed $7.9-billion Site C dam, which would be the third dam on the Peace River if it gets built.
Currently, the project is going through environmental reviews at the provincial and federal levels.
Saanich South NDP MLA Lana Popham and SFU economist Mark Jaccard are interviewed, as are numerous locals in the affected flood areas around Bear Flat, close to Fort St. John. And of course, there are proponents, and Wilkinson gives everyone a voice.
“The thing about this is it’s not a finger-pointing exercise; it’s a fairly centrist discussion,” Wilkinson said of the movie.
Beyond that, he said that Peace Out is a dispassionate look at the major energy sources here in Western Canada. His vested interest is to have cheap energy in a way that won’t lead his as-yet-unborn grandchildren to hate him.
So no pressure, as they say.