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‘Split Estate’ in unconventional venues

Documentary depicts dirty side of ‘clean alternative’

By SANDY LONG

UPPER DELAWARE REGION — It used to be that most viewings of a new film took place in movie theaters. But the urgency to get timely messages about natural gas drilling out to viewers facing the impending arrival of natural gas extraction in the Upper Delaware Region is driving the screening of a new drilling documentary at a number of unexpected locations including a restaurant, a college, a film festival, an art gallery and even a local church.

The newly released film “Split Estate,” which examines the growing environmental and social impacts that oil and gas drilling can have on a community, has recently been shown at the Settlers Inn in Hawley, PA and Sullivan County Community College in Loch Sheldrake, NY. It will make its next appearances at the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance (DVAA) in Narrowsburg, NY and at the Grey Towers National Historic Site in Milford, PA. One of the more unusual locations will include a showing at Grace Episcopal Church in Honesdale, PA.

The film documents the struggle of citizens in the path of a drilling boom in the Rocky Mountain West as they fight against the erosion of their civil liberties, their communities and their health. It examines the legacy being created by the oil and gas industry, which is exempt from such federal protections as the Clean Water Act. Rural communities pockmarked with abandoned homes, polluted waters and stricken residents fighting for their health depict a sobering view of the industry advancing on the Upper Delaware region.

While the title refers to a situation in which landowners do not possess their mineral rights, the film depicts the process and its range of impacts.

“The split estate concept is pertinent to our situation, in that we, who do not want to be exposed to the impacts and health effects that will be a result of drilling, are told that we can not prevent either our neighbor (lessor), or the drilling company, from placing a well 200 feet from our house. Split estate or not, we are currently powerless to prevent our exposure to this industry,” notes James Barth, who will host a showing of the film at the DVAA.

“Split Estate” can be viewed at the following:

• Tuesday, October 13, 7:00 p.m.

Grace Episcopal Church, 827 Church Street, Honesdale, PA

• Saturday, October 17, 7:00 p.m.

Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, Main Street, Narrowsburg, NY.

James Barth and Pat Carullo of Damascus Citizens for Sustainability will answer questions at this screening.

• Saturday, October 17, 8:00 p.m. and Thursday, October 22, 11:00 p.m.

The film airs as a world television premiere as part of the “Reel Impact” series on Planet Green, a network of Discovery Communications.

• Sunday, October 18, 11:15 a.m.

Black Bear Film Festival’s free EnviroFest at Grey Towers in Milford, PA

The screening will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Pam Fendrock of PennFuture, Tracy Carluccio of the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Peter Wulfhorst of Pike County’s Penn State Cooperative Extension. Visit blackbearfilm.com for more information.

All screenings are free and open to the public.