And The Beast
May 3, 2016. The biggest catastrophe in Canadian history hits Fort McMurray, the country’s treasure chest and the world’s third-largest oil reserve. Firefighters call it 'The Beast'. It was time for me to return to the city where I’d spent three winters.
A speedoc by
funded by you
You’ve arrived. Take your time and your headphone.
And scroll down.
June 10, 2016.
Residents trickle back. They discover the ruins and the fire’s legacy of toxic ash, fine particulate matter, and heavy metals (arsenic, lead, copper, zinc, chrome). Some homes, though intact, have been declared unsafe for habitation.
Three days before the Beast
Above the Fuel restaurant, on Highway 63.
10% of the town razed
2,400 structures damaged or destroyed
589,552 hectares up in smoke
72% increase in demand at food banks since the residents’ return
30 million barrels of lost oilsands production during The Beast’s rampage
1.5 billion Canadian dollars: estimated loss to oil companies
June 2016. Fort McMurray is swarming with private security guards. The same ones who usually keep the oil sands under lock and key, turning away visitors at Suncor, Shell, Total, and Syncrude. Similar restrictions apply at the evacuee reception centres. Officially, to protect the privacy of evacuees – a legitimate concern. Unofficially, to hide the anger and the tears. Over insurers balking at claims, or authorities accused of having responded too little, too late.
A crew of residents gets busy. Most are volunteers; some are paid $25 an hour. They sift through the rubble for the few mementos that weren’t incinerated. Silent, purposeful silhouettes, smiling at each other. An unfamiliar flag flies overhead, that of Team Rubicon: a new kind of NGO, founded by American veterans.
A tent-filled parking lot. And fridges by the hundreds. A month of rotting food – and, in some cases, smoke – have made the refrigerators in town unusable. Pickup trucks pull up one after the other as people come get their new models.
John O’Connor, following his return. June 12, 2016.
Speed doc filmed and directed by David Dufresne between June 10 and 29, 2016, with the steadfast support of Anita Hugi (Narrative Boutique) and of the maestros at AKFN (design and development, Montreal)
In-kind donors, without whom none of this would have been possible:
Cash donors, who have made this adventure so crazy and so concrete, and to whom we owe a thousand thanks:
Damien Morel Darleux
Marie Eve Dufresne
Crowdfunding platform: Ulule
It all began in 2011. The discovery of the city, its residents, the money at every corner, the Gotham-style factories and the Notre-Dame of Pollution, this global village, symbol of a globalized world, reflection of our choices.
Originally, Fort McMurray was going to be the backdrop for a documentary game, Fort McMoney. Then came a film, with Jim Rogers as the common thread, along with madcap laughter. After, there was a book. And now this, a wild and furiously independent longform documentary, an adventure undertaken with you, funded 100% by you, a shared journey, shot live, to be defined, a speed doc or whatever you want to call it. Because the web is the place for emergencies, and also for memory and the long term.
FORT McMONEY 1
Discover or replay the documentary game (2013, Toxa/Arte/ONF NFB
FORT McMONEY 2: VOTE JIM ROGERS
The film version (2015, Toxa/Arte/ONF NFB)
FORT McMONEY 3: FORT MAC AND THE BEAST
A speed doc (2016, self-produced and crowd-funded)
Collective work (published by Lux éditeur, 2015) by Naomi Klein, Nancy Huston, Melina Laboucan-Massimo, Rudy Wiebe et David Dufresne