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A lasting effect goes global

The Bentley Effect is screening at the Pelican Playhouse, South Grafton this Saturday (7pm) and Sunday (2pm) – there will be a Q & A with producer/director Brendan Shoebridge (inset) following the screenings. Pictured: The dawning of the end of CSG in the Northern Rivers at Bentley; for more information go to Images: R J Poole
The Bentley Effect, the documentary that chronicles the role people of the Northern Rivers played in ridding the region of coal seam gas mining, is making international inroads. The film was awarded a ‘Best Documentary’ certificate at the Barcelona Planet Film Festival in January – the festival is a monthly event that “showcases innovative independent cinema from around the world by up-and-coming artists”. The Bentley Effect’s producer and director, Brendan Shoebridge, said he had entered the film in about 20 festivals, most of which are still pending. To date, the film has won awards at three of four film festivals and enjoyed a successful run of dates in Victoria last week. “We’re really encouraged by all of that,” Mr Shoebridge said. “It’s great to show the film outside of the region. “It’s resonating with the audiences; the Victorian experience shows people are tuned into what is important. “I think people are seeing through the mix; we’re seeing the dying breaths of the fossil fuel industry.” In May, Mr Shoebridge and fellow activists, Ian Gaillard and Simon Clough, will travel to the United Kingdom to screen the documentary and teach people how to plan and carry out non-violent protests. Mr Gaillard is the Gasfield Free Northern Rivers coordinator and an initiator of the Lock the Gate campaign. Mr Clough, who is a former Lismore City Council deputy mayor, told ABC North Coast that he “felt very strongly that the Northern Rivers had a lot of resources and skills which were not so evident in other communities”, which played a major role in the campaign’s success. “That involved our relationship with the police, the fact we were able to work with a broad section of the Northern Rivers community, people who had been and still were members of the National Party, people who were more on the environmental activist fringe, and everyone in between,” he said. The Bentley Effect is screening at the Pelican Playhouse, South Grafton this Saturday (7pm) and Sunday (2pm) – there will be a Q & A with Brendan Shoebridge following the screenings. The documentary’s story is “told through the eyes of the protectors over a five-year period” and “captures and celebrates the ‘Eureka Stockade’ of our time and the social movement that led to it”, the film’s synopsis states. “Following a series of increasingly dramatic blockades, the gas industry threw down the gauntlet. “They announced plans to commence drilling on a farmland property in Bentley, a peaceful stretch of country, just 12 minutes from Lismore. “The community’s response has now become the stuff of legends.” On building this ‘legend’ Mr Shoebridge said the “festivals are fantastic for raising the profile of, not just the film, but the issue”. “It’s a brilliant way to elevate the conversation and get it to new audiences,” he said; or as Mr Clough put it to the ABC: “This is an international and global crisis; the whole unconventional gas drilling threatens everyone’s water and everyone’s air.” • Grab a copy of Scene Magazine at the Independent’s bulk-drop sites around the valley and read the story of Ian Gaillard’s remarkable activist life.