| NEW YORK, April 21
NEW YORK, April 21 They call themselves "water
protectors" and describe the Dakota Access pipeline ferrying
crude oil across America as "the black snake."
In "Awake: A Dream From Standing Rock," the Standing Rock
Sioux tribe and those who flocked to windswept tribal lands in
North Dakota last year to protest the pipeline, get to tell
their story on their own terms.
They also hope to build on the impetus of the months-long
standoff, despite the $3.8 billion project by Energy Transfer
Partners LP eventually going ahead.
"The ambition of the film is really to get people to
understand the issue and feel it in a way that's emotional,"
said director Josh Fox, an environmental activist and filmmaker.
The film, comprised of three parts by different directors,
premieres on Saturday - Earth Day - at the Tribeca film
festival. It also will be streamed online at awakethefilm.org on
a pay-what-you-can basis with all proceeds going to the cause.
"It's really about pushing the movement forward. We also
want to say, you guys did something unbelievable, and this is
one way of giving a debt of gratitude," Fox said.
The 1,172-mile (1,885-km) Dakota Access line running from
North Dakota to Illinois drew international attention in 2016
after the Standing Rock Native American tribe sued to block
completion of the final link, saying it would desecrate a sacred
Environmentalists also argued that potential leaks along its
length would risk poisoning the water supply for some 17 million
In February, U.S. President Donald Trump gave the go-ahead
to complete the project. The protest camps were demolished and
oil is expected to start flowing in mid-May.
The film contrasts the water cannon, rubber bullets,
helicopters and riot gear used by law enforcement officials
against the protesters with idyllic scenes of sparkling water,
sunsets, starry skies and communal camp life. More than 700
people were arrested during the protests.
"The film initiates as a dream, as if the last 500 years of
civilization didn't happen," said Fox.
"It was an amazing place, and it ran on very different
principles than our society - those of sharing mutual respect
and non violence," said Fox, who spent several weeks there at
the suggestion of "Divergent" actress Shailene Woodley.
Although the protesters ultimately lost the battle over the
pipeline, their spirits remain high.
"Our camp is gone, but our spirit is not broken," says Sioux
member Floris Bull White. "Will you wake up and join us?"
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Grant McCool)