Sundance Film Fest Rejects Canadian Tar Sands DocuDrama says Indie Filmmaker Michelle Stirling

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“My Tar Sands Duck Dinner with Andrea” is a no-budget short video tribute to Louis Malle that celebrates the magic of the monologue about the oil sands and the environmentalists such as Hollywood Stars like Robert Redford and Daryl Hanna who oppose the creation of thousands of Keystone XL pipeline job opportunities for unemployed Americans.

Ms. Eco-Fem makes point.

And you know there is nothing that gives an individual more dignity and self respect than simply having a job. ... in my career my industry has grown from a curiosity to having the capacity to provide dignity and work to over 900,000 families

Award-winning producer/writer and performance artist Michelle Stirling is shocked that the Sundance Film Festival rejected her official short film entry entitled "My Tar Sands Duck Dinner with Andrea.”

Robert Redford, founder of the Sundance Film Festival is a vocal opponent of Alberta’s oil sands.Yet Sundance also has a section for social justice issues.

"Work is the ultimate social justice issue," says Stirling.

The Bureau of Labour Statistics in the US is reporting: "The number of unemployed persons, at 12.2 million, was little changed in December. The unemployment rate held at 7.8 percent and has been at or near that level since September."

Yet few Americans realize how many US citizens are already employed by the Canadian oil sands in the supply chain. Many more would be working upon approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Internationally Canada is the largest supplier of crude oil and petroleum products to the United States. According to the site Oil Sands Fact Check: "At least 2,400 American companies from 49 states are already involved in the development of Canada’s oil sands." A study by the Energy Policy Research Foundation (EPRINC) increased oil sands development will result in an estimated 343,000 new U.S. jobs between 2011 and 2015 [if Keystone XL proceeds]. Demand for US goods and services continues to climb adding an estimated $34 billion to the US GDP in 2012... " and thousands of person years of employment.

Says Stirling, "Keystone XL pipeline from the oil sands to Texas offers Americans real, down-to-earth work, from a province in Canada with the highest environmental standards in the world.”

“Millions of Americans are out of work," says Stirling. "Keystone XL pipeline from the oil sands to Texas refineries will employ thousands people plus all the spin-off work, and revitalize the American economy.”

Stirling claims it is ironic that eco-activists and the "Idle No More" movement are anti-oil sands.

Some 1,800 aboriginal people work in the oil sands in good jobs.$1.7billion in business has been done since 1992. The oil sands are the largest employer of aboriginal people and these are not token jobs.

Stirling also notes the record of qualitative aboriginal training is phenomenal through the innovative NAIT-in-MOTION program, funded in large part by oil and gas companies.

As her video co-star Don Thompson says: “And you know there is nothing that gives an individual more dignity and self respect than simply having a job. And I’m proud of the fact that in my career my industry has grown from a curiosity to having the capacity to provide dignity and work to over 900,000 families.”

Don Thompson is past President of the Oil Sands Developers Group; a 32 year veteran of the oil sands who has given hundreds of personal presentations around the world.

"In the oil sands we have an legion of highly qualified scientists and engineers engaged on every aspect of the work. These are professionals and there are hundreds of them," says Stirling.

Some people question the land disturbance of the oil sands.

“It looks dirty," Stirling agrees, "but land disturbed by the oil sands is only about the size of Toronto – and it all is under reclamation. In Alberta, Canada reclamation is the law.”

Stirling, a former Alberta Environment Information Coordinator cites other facts. "The Athabasca River is the most monitored river in the world, the air is monitored 24/7 by the Wood Buffalo Environmental Association. Every project must file a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Oil sands specialists, engineers and geoscientists spend years filing EIAs before any work begins. These cover the 20-40 year life of the project including reclamation."

Stirling decided to write her play after seeing the "The Tipping Point: Age of the Oil Sands /End of Oil” hosted in Canada by David Suzuki and narrated by Sigourney Weaver.

“I was shocked at the omissions and deceptions in the program,” says Stirling. “We only heard from activists, not experts. So I decided to tell the story my way – but on a beer budget.”

The Louis Malle classic "My Dinner with Andre" was the ideal platform.

A Kindle version of the script of “My Tar Sands Duck Dinner with Andrea” has just been released. See “My Tar Sands Duck Dinner with Andrea” on Vimeo.

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Michal Anosh

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