A documentary film telling the inspiring story of the northern rivers social movement which to date has protected the region from coal-seam gas (CSG), will hit the big screen at the historic Regent Cinema in Murwillumbah on Friday.
The Bentley Effect, a six-year labour of love from local director and producer, Brendan Shoebridge, chronicles the campaign from the first lie that CSG was a ‘good, clean energy’ resource, to the fateful showdown at the gates of Bentley near Lismore.
The film has had sell-out screenings in Byron Bay, Lismore and Nimbin, and receiving standing ovations at each showing.
it has been described as ‘gripping’ by Giles Parkinson, of Renew Economy, ‘hopeful, tearful, funny and poignant’ by Cate McQuillan, the producer/director, Dirt Girl World) and ‘Grass roots community fight back at its best: 5 stars’, by Richard Todd, the director of Frackman.
Shoebridge said he was ‘completely blown away by the audience reaction to The Bentley Effect’s world premiere’.
‘I knew it would be well received but I was quite unprepared for the standing ovation that lasted the entire duration of the credits,’ he said.
‘I was honoured and humbled by such an emotional response to the film.
‘It is a tremendous relief to know that it has ticked all the many boxes it had to.
‘The first priority was to ensure it was entertaining, but I didn’t want to make a film that people would simply watch either. I wanted to offer the audience an experience, the next best thing to being there on the blockades. It also had to inspire hope and stay true to what played out’, Shoebridge said.
The film is not just the story of a social movement however. Weaved throughout the commentary is a much broader discussion about the current political climate and the inability of our government to see beyond short term gain and corporate profits.
‘It’s a remarkable time to release this documentary which is ultimately about standing up to corporate greed and general madness, especially in light of the protests boiling over in Dakota, USA; the abhorrent Adani Carmichael Mine approvals now looming over our embattled Reef; and places as unique as the Kimberly region – the third most pristine coastline in the world after the Arctic and Antarctic coast – all currently under fierce attack from fossil fuel interests and all at a time when we know we must accelerate in the opposite direction.
’If we don’t all act now, then we really have blown it and all this beauty and privilege we currently enjoy will all be reduced to a dreadful battle for survival. That’s what people must understand, especially the decision makers we elect. They only respond to pressure and a strong united voice.
‘But with our state and federal governments threatening legislation which would prevent environmental groups from taking legal action, while effectively removing the right of civilians to protest, the time really has come for people to take the power back into their own hands and show our political representatives what democracy is really about.
‘I hope taking a trip back to Bentley through the eyes of the protesters will inspire The Bentley Effect to spread fast and ripple across the globe’, Shoebridge said.
The film won the Byron Film Award at the Byron Bay International Film Festival recently and is touring select cinemas throughout the region before a wider distribution plan is hatched to send the film national and around the world.
The film producers have partnered with Enova Energy – Australia’s first community-owned renewable energy company, to promote the alternative to CSG – locally owned clean energy.
Shoebridge said Enova signed it’s 1000th customer Terri Nicholson after she saw the film in Lismore and heard about Enova’s benefits.
Following the screening, the Murwillumbah audience will have the opportunity to stay for discussion panel which will include Shoebridge and Tweed Lock the Gate representative, Michael McNamara, Murwillumbah author Richard Deem who wrote Gasfield Free NSW Northern Rivers: Non-Violent, Non-Negotiable and president of Northern Rivers Guardians, Scott Sledge.
Tickets are $20 and available from the Regent Cinema or online at www.trybooking.com/241746