Cullen Hoback’s new investigative documentary “What Lies Upstream,” an exposé on the failed regulatory framework that created a loss of clean water for over 300,000 Americans, will screen as the Opening Night Presentation at the Slamdance Film Festival on January 20, the same day as the United States Presidential Inauguration.
The film begins in 2014 when West Virginia citizens learn that a mysterious chemical has leaked into the Elk River, poisoning the drinking water supply for nearly half of the state. Compelled to investigate, Hoback soon finds himself down a rabbit hole he never imagined. Along the way, he encounters scientists, lobbyists, and officials like West Virginia Cabinet Secretary Randy Huffman, who serves as the head of the state’s Department of Environment Protection. Meanwhile, a similar water crisis strikes Flint, Michigan signaling that the entire system to protect drinking water in America is fundamentally broken.
“It’s a real life detective story full of confrontational journalism and shocking character arcs,” Hoback says. “While drinking water is an important element in the film, the investigation goes far beyond that, having alarming implications for the future of science and reason in America.”
“‘What Lies Upstream’ is a powerful document for the world at large on the perils of believing government organizations and corporations will take care of the human species,” says Peter Baxter, Slamdance Co-founder and President. “Slamdance is proud to present this world premiere and encourage audiences to honor what Cullen Hoback has discovered, as we should with the protestors at Standing Rock, the Flint activists and the unsung heroes of environmental groups. We all must join in the movement to protect water now and for generations to come.”
Immediately following its Park City premiere, “What Lies Upstream” will launch the ArcLight Presents Slamdance Cinema Club 2017 season on Tuesday, January 31 at the ArcLight Hollywood. The ArcLight Presents Slamdance Cinema Club is a partnership between ArcLight Cinemas and the Slamdance Film Festival, which offers audiences a first look at films fresh from the festival followed by an in-depth filmmaker and cast Q&A. Since its debut in March, 2015, the series has since expanded to ArcLight’s Chicago location as well.
Since 1995, the Slamdance Film Festival has focused on emerging filmmakers and low-budget independent films. This year, the festival will run from January 20 through 26 in Park City, Utah. For more information, visit the official website.