Oct. 15–Michael Pogoloff didn’t know much about the Atlantic Coast Pipeline before he became involved in a documentary focusing on resistance to the project.
And when he started working on the film, he only expected to help edit it.
But the expected contribution of some others didn’t work out, and “Robeson Rises” became Pogoloff’s directorial debut. On Sunday, it won the Juried Award for Documentary Short at the Indigo Moon Film Festival.
“It was a huge opportunity that fell in my lap and also a huge responsibility that fell on my shoulders,” he said.
Pogoloff said the documentary shows how the natural gas pipeline will disproportionately impact Native Americans and low-income residents. He said it shows how some in Robeson County’s diverse and tight-knit community have resisted the project.
“All the characters in the film are really interesting, compelling people,” he said.
Workers are clearing land for the 600-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which is supposed to run from West Virginia to North Carolina. Plans call for the 36-inch pipeline to run through the northeast corner of Sampson County and near several communities in Cumberland County, and St. Pauls in Robeson County before ending near Pembroke.
Supporters say they believe the pipeline is safe and will provide a clean source of power that will lower the cost of energy and help economic development.
Opponents say they are worried about potential dangers from the project and say the state should rely more on renewable energy such as solar and wind power.
Pogoloff said he is driven to make documentaries that bring to light a subject that people don’t know about or don’t know enough about. He hopes “Robeson Rises” meets those criteria.
“The main goal was to bring more eyes to the situation,” he said.
Pogoloff said he received positive feedback from those who watched the documentary at the film festival.
“People really seemed to like it,” he said. “That felt good.”
Several hundred people attended the festival, which started Friday and ended Sunday. Pat Wright and Jan Johnson organized the event.
“It’s been an amazing experience,” Wright said.
Johnson praised the volunteers who she said made all the difference in the festival’s operation.
“It’s a massive undertaking,” she said.
Wright and Johnson also said financial support and attendance played a role in the event’s success.
The festival’s 71 films were arranged in categories, including animation, documentary feature, narrative feature, narrative short, and student. The event reprised showings of winning films and its signature film, “Living in the Future’s Past,” on Sunday.
Staff writer Steve DeVane can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 910-486-3572.
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