| February 3, 2012

Windfall, a feature film by Laura Israel, provides a balanced and insightful portrayal of both positive and negative aspects of industrial wind energy as experienced by residents of Meredith, NY. An anonymous wind developer proposes attractive financial incentives to boost the failing economy of Meredith, NY, however, the town residents become extremely divided over the environmental impact of 400-foot tall wind turbines, sited 1,000 feet from people’s homes. When it is discovered that the town hall supervisor has a conflict of interest (he was approached by wind developers to sign a contract), mental red flags are raised. Some residents want to maintain the beauty and solitude of the area thus standing for NIMBY (not in my backyard). Other residents express that man and nature are working together in the form of renewable energy.
NIMBYs of Meridith, NY, argue that roads would be widened to accommodate the huge blades, which can be up to 180 feet long, the turbines would be embedded in tons of concrete to keep them standing, there would be a persistent low frequency sound, and a continual shadow flicker when the sun gets behind the moving blades, to name a few harmful effects Landowners that signed contracts with wind developers, were also required to sign confidentiality agreements, thereby leading to an air of secrecy and paranoia amongst neighbors. Neighbors that were friends for more than thirty years and attended church together, were now on opposite ends of the controversy as distanced foes.
Windfall captures the heated debates at public townhall meetings but what is very apparent is the fact that the wind developers were not in attendance. While the wind developers provide positive positive information about the project, some residents independently compiled heavy research from outside sources that revealed a darker more menacing view to wind energy. When asked in an interview what she wanted audiences to take away from the film, producer/director Laura Israel stated that public officials making decisions about regulating these projects should not have a personal interest. Laura further declared that citizens should have access to unbiased information in order to make informed decisions and take part in an open and honest democratic process concerning the future of their communities.
Although the film may have been too long to illustrate its primary and secondary messages, Windfall is a good faith effort to make the subject of community organizing around alternative energy compelling. The film’s music is bland, however, the photography is vivid. Windfall will do especially well in academic settings rather than mainstream audience. B-

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An attorney residing in NYC serving the film and digital media community.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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