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Hot Docs 2015 Review: Fractured Land

Anyone that can throw a hatchet and sue you is a force to be reckoned with,” says 350.org founder Bill McKibben in the opening montage of Fractured Land.

He is speaking of a soft-spoken young Cree and Dene man named Caleb Behn. Caleb is a lawyer and Dene community leader, trying to find the best way to deal with the fracking companies that have moved into his territory. He wants to heal the divide in his community by finding a balance between jobs and respect for the land.

On one side, his father is an environmentalist starkly opposed to any kind of oil and gas development, on the other side, his mother is one of the top ranking executives at an oil and gas company. Caleb grew up trapping on his territory with his grandfathers and thus, has an intimate connection with his environment. He also has a deep love and respect for his mother who worked her way up from the mailroom to become an executive.

Caleb is also haunted by his birth deformity. Despite his confident appearance; Mohawk, piercings, tattoos and sharp suits. He has no way of knowing if the cleft upper palate he was born with was the result of genetics or exposure to toxins. Either way it has made him even more concerned about the possible ground water poisoning caused by fracking.

Filmmakers Damien Gillis and Fiona Rayher, follow Caleb for four years as he progresses through law school and builds a movement one audience at a time. Fractured Land is also fascinating look at how our government uses treatises to sell indigenous territory with very little in the way of consent.

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