A film editor who owns a getaway cabin in Meredith, New York recently produced her first documentary film focused on her second home town. A motivator for producing the film was her realization that she and her vacation area neighbors would never be able to get away from their new neighbors – an industrial sized wind development full of turbines on towers that are 120 meters (about 400 feet) tall with blades whose tips can move at 150 miles per hour.
The film, titled Windfall, is the story of how a wind farm disturbed the peace and quiet of a town and turned lifelong neighbors into opposing sides of a heated argument. Landowners who accepted the developer’s money and leased their land claim that they were looking for a way to recover some of the income that their aging farms could not longer produce. Other people who did not accept the money or who had no land suitable for leasing are concerned about the effects of the massive machines on their quality of life and property values.
Some have criticized the film for a lack of balance because it does not include any interviews or on camera appearances from the wind energy developers. Ms. Israel explained the film’s point of view in an interview with Katey Rich for Cinema Blend.
The people speaking in favor of wind energy are all people based on the local level, and you don’t have anyone from the wind companies themselves. Was that a deliberate choice?
Because I did it from the town’s point of view, if you notice, there are no wind companies at the meetings answering questions. That’s one of the reasons why the wind people aren’t in the film. They get contracts, and all of a sudden they are really scarce, and I wanted to represent that in the film, their absence. The film isn’t an expose about wind, it’s more like the experience of the town. People who live among turbines are trying to get the word out about problems they’re having, and I wanted to give voice to them, rather than the wind companies.
Windfall debuted on Friday, September 10, 2010 at the Toronto Independent Film Festival. It was reviewed by IFC.com in an article titled Toronto 2010: “Windfall,” Reviewed.
Pitchforks aren’t drawn, but they might as well be as this presumably liberal enclave descends into heated disagreement over the towering 400-ft. windmills that are invading Meredith’s acreage, a byproduct of the farms’ desperation for cash and the opportunism of alternative energy companies to sign them up to agreements they couldn’t possibly understand the implications of since it’s still a developing technology. As a result, the residents of Meredith who didn’t sign up to have the windmills on their land are treated to the same constant grinding noise and vertigo-inducing shadows as those that did.
The Wall Street Journal Speakeasy blog also reviewed the movie ‘Windfall’ Documentary Explores Perils of Wind Power on September 9, 2010, the day before its debut showing. Note: There are some detailed and heartfelt comments on that post. (As of 5:30 pm on Sunday, September 12, 2010)