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White Water, Black Gold

White Water, Black Gold is an investigative point-of-view documentary that follows David Lavallee on his three-year journey across western Canada in search of answers about the activities of the world's thirstiest oil industry: the tar sands. The film was written and directed by David Lavallee.

As a mountaineer and hiking guide, David is on the front lines of climate change. Over the past fifteen years he has worked in the Columbia ice fields of the Canadian Rockies, and has noticed profound changes in the mountains: climate change is rendering these landscapes unrecognizable.

When David discovers that his province is ramping up growth in an extremely water-intensive industry downstream of his beloved ice fields, he is surprised he knows so little about this industry. He decides he needs to make a journey: from ice fields to oil fields.

In the course of his journey, he makes many discoveries: new science shows that water resources in an era of climate change will be increasingly scarce; First Nations people living downstream are contracting bizarre cancers; the intensification of oil drilling threatens multiple river systems across Canada, and the tailings ponds containing the waste by-products of the process threaten to befoul the third largest watershed in the world. Furthermore, a planned pipeline across British Columbia brings fresh threats to BC rivers and the Pacific Ocean.

White Water, Black Gold is a sober look at the untold costs (to water and people) associated with developing the second largest deposit of "oil" in the world. At the Ranch on line Post production work was done of the feature and the one hour version. Denise Eletich was the editor. The film has screened on Free Speech TV during May 2013 to help influence the Keystone XL pipeline debate.


"Highly recommended. White Water, Black Gold sends a strong message about the current and potential future impacts of oil sands mining on land, water and wildlife resources. The question remains: 'Now that public opinion is shifting against tar sands, will Canadians bridge the gap between white water and black gold?'"                                                                                                  - Educational Media Reviews Online

"Eye-opening... Lavallee interviews geologists, environmentalists, and others to document evidence of global warming. The filmmaker also speaks to scientists who worry about the amount of water needed to flush oil from the ground and the toxic wastes that pollute ponds and rivers. The contrast between formerly pristine waters and polluted waterways makes a convincing case for exploring sources of alternative fuels in this call for action."                                                                   - Booklist (American Library Association)

"Recommended for every audience. Highlights the environmental price North Americans pay for
domestic oil production. A strong case for public awareness, change in government priorities, and
more effective oversight of oil corporations."
- Library Journal

"Highlights the indescribable beauty of the region and how it is being threatened by industry and
- Earth Times

"Narrated by American actor Peter Coyote, the film follows Lavallee down the Athabasca River and
across Western Canada as he examines the relationship between water and oil. In a unique narrative device, the film traces the paths of both an imaginary drop of water and drop of oil while investigating what threats the oil sands project may have on the third largest watershed in the world."
- Calgary Herald


Best Canadian Film Award, Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival
Platinum Documentary Award Winner, Oregon Film Awards
John Muir Award, Yosemite Film Festival

Official Selection
-DocUtah Film Festival, 2012
-Durango International Film Festival, 2012
-Tyrolean Independent Film Festival, Innusbruck, 2012
-Wild and Scenic Film Festival
-Projecting Change Film Festival
-Tipping Man Film Festival
-Planet in Focus Film Festival
-World Community Film Festival

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