Director: Jan Haaken & Samantha Praus
Producer: Frann Michel & David Cress
DP: Morgan Robinson
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System: Premiere Pro CC
Grounded in people and places at the heart of the climate crisis, “Necessity” 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 indigenous activists and non-indigenous allies make use of the necessity defense in making a moral case for acts of civil disobedience. Many of these activists were part of the Standing Rock resistance in North Dakota and carry into this site of struggle their knowledge of resistance strategies, as well as their experiences of loss and trauma.
The film is structured around two stories of activists engaged in civil disobedience and using the necessity defense. One case centers on activists locking down a local Wells Fargo, a major investor in the pipelines. The other centers on climate activists as they prepare for a landmark jury trial after temporarily shutting down the flow of tar sands oil as part of a multi-state coordinated action. 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.
Water Protector Debra Topping guides us through areas where pipelines cross tribal lands and where native resistance is mounting. Tribal attorney Tara Houska shows how the destructive path of these pipelines endanger indigenous communities most directly. The film calls into question whether legal strategies are sufficient in responding to the scale of the global climate crisis.