Oil, Water, and Climate Resistance

In a climate emergency, is civil disobedience a necessity?


NECESSITY is a fiscally sponsored project of Film Independent, selected project of Doc Society + Exposure Labs inaugural Climate Story Lab, and selected project of The Fledgling Fund Call for Projects on Climate Change.


Grounded in people and places at the heart of the climate crisis, Necessity Pt I: Oil, Water and Climate Resistance traces the fight in Minnesota against the expansion of pipelines carrying toxic tar sands oil through North America. The story unfolds in a setting where activists make a moral case for acts of civil disobedience using the necessity defense. Movement lawyers defending activists in court must prove that the threat of the climate emergency justified acts of civil disobedience and that there were no legal alternatives. Indigenous leaders and white allies carry into this site of struggle their knowledge of resistance strategies, as well as their experiences of loss and trauma, as they work to defend the sacred and demand justice. The film calls into question whether legal strategies are sufficient in responding to the scale of the global climate crisis.


In the course of screening Necessity at schools, activist events, and festivals, the team began production on a Part II, provisionally titled Necessity Pt II: Rivers, Resistance, and Oil-by-Rail. Also feature-length, the film is set along the rivers of Oregon and follows activists as they enlist the necessity defense in a jury trial after being arrested for a direct action at Zenith Energy in Portland. This story of climate resistance in the Pacific Northwest brings into view a historical landscape of tribal leaders, Indigenous activists and white allies as they resist oil trains and trucks carrying these highly inflammable products through treaty lands. In following the path of oil-by-rail and oil resistance along the Columbia, we revisit lessons of the New Deal era of building massive dams and what climate activists take from that era in thinking about a Green New Deal.


Join this inspiring ongoing story of alllyship and Indigenous-led resistance in the fight to save the planet. As Tara Houska proclaims in Necessity Pt I, “there is beauty and purpose in struggle.”


We need your support to bring this message to audiences across the country. These films will serve as a tool for activists in promoting thoughtful public dialogue on climate change and the complex strategies needed to address the global climate emergency.

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