“Denial” tackles the complex issues of renewable energy, climate change, transgender identity and the need for corporate and personal transparency. The AFS Screening Series at LPCA resumes Jan. 26-27 with “Wonderstruck.”
LAKE PLACID, NY — The fall season of the Adirondack Film Society (AFS) extends into December with a special screening—and an Adirondack North Country premiere—at the historic Palace Theatre of a new documentary by Aaron Woolf, who is best known in the region as a filmmaker for his documentary about Big Agriculture, “King Corn.” For this new film, “DENIAL,” Woolf set out to tackle the complex issues of renewable energy and climate change by following the path of Vermont electric utility CEO David Hallquist.
As Hallquist struggles to build the kind of transparent company whose honest approach can get stakeholders to accept the realities of how we generate and deliver electricity in the face of climate change, David realizes he lacks transparency in his personal life and reveals to his family a lifelong secret: this chainsaw-wielding, hardhat-wearing CEO working in a male-dominated industry is a woman inside—soon to be named Christine. Thus, the initial narrative driving “DENIAL” takes an unexpected turn toward an entirely new direction—and, for the filmmakers, uncharted territory. Derek Hallquist, Dave’s son, directs, with Woolf serving as one of the film’s producers, writers and co-creators.
In a presentation by the AFS in association with Mosaic Films, “DENIAL” will be screened Friday, December 8, at 7 p.m. at the Palace Theatre, located in downtown Lake Placid at 2430 Main Street (box office: 518-523-9271). Tickets are $10, available only at the door, cash only. For more info on this screening or to learn more about the AFS, please contact Operations Manager Fred Balzac at (518) 523-3456 or visit adirondackfilmsociety.org. To learn more about Mosaic Films, please visit www.mosaicfilmsinc.com.
For this special screening, Aaron Woolf will appear in person to introduce the film and lead a Q&A with the audience following the screening. Scheduled to join Aaron will be the director, Derek Hallquist, who also appears frequently in the movie, and the film’s main protagonist, Christine Hallquist.
Of special note is Aaron’s connection to the Palace Theatre via his volunteer work on the “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign of 2013. The Palace was one of several North Country movie theaters whose transition to digital projection was supported by the campaign, which was run the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA).
“It’s a great honor to be sharing this project at the Palace after collaborating on the ‘Go Digital’ project that helped preserve so many of our North Country cinemas,” said Woolf, who is based in Elizabethtown, where he co-owns the historic Deer’s Head Inn. “Films that touch on pressing social issues are important conversation-starters in our communities and I am very grateful to the Adirondack Film Society for giving us this opportunity.
“The fact that this screening of ‘DENIAL,’ with its themes of climate change and facing reality comes at a moment in which concerns about our national climate focus have taken on renewed urgency feels more timely than we could have imagined.”
This showing at the Palace represents the Adirondack North Country premiere of “DENIAL,” which had been originally scheduled to take place this past June during the flagship event of the AFS, the annual Lake Placid Film Forum, when a region-wide power outage forced a postponement — the irony of which was not lost on the film’s presenters. “DENIAL” had its world premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2016 and has been shown at numerous film festivals since then, including the Environmental Film Festival at Yale University where it was the Audience Award winner and the MiFo LGBT Film Festival of Miami-Fort Lauderdale (now rebranded as the OUTShine Film Festival) where “DENIAL” was the runner-up for the Jury Award. Just days ago on November 12th, “DENIAL” had the rare honor to win both the jury prize for Best Documentary Feature and the audience “People’s Choice” award at the Reading Film Festival in Pennsylvania. A shortened, hour-long version of the film has appeared on numerous PBS affiliates across the nation since this past June.
The Film’s Narrative
The 92-minute documentary follows the story of David Hallquist, CEO of a Vermont electric utility, seen through the lens of his filmmaker son, Derek Hallquist, to whom Dave has granted intimate access to the inner workings of the energy industry. As a self-described “closet environmentalist,” Hallquist is dedicated to addressing the way electricity use in America contributes to climate change. But his mission is balanced with the utility’s charge to provide affordable and reliable service to their customers. The needs of business versus those of the environment have typically collided. For Hallquist, increasing the efficiency of the grid is the only meaningful route to merging these priorities.
He implements one of the country’s first smart grids—decreasing outages, increasing the capacity for renewable sources and building a national reputation as an energy pioneer. Resistance, however, comes in many forms: traditionalists balk at renewable intermittency, solar and wind advocates think Hallquist is dragging his feet and the public fears that smart meters on their homes will send private information about their energy use to the government.
But as Hallquist struggles to build the kind of transparent company whose honest approach can get stakeholders to accept the realities of how we generate and deliver electricity, he realizes he lacks transparency in his personal life and reveals to his son a lifelong secret. Dave Hallquist—who presents himself as a chainsaw-wielding, hardhat-wearing CEO in a male-dominated industry—is a woman inside.
Now Derek’s family must face facts that feel far more immediate than the melting of the polar icecaps. The act of denial emerges as a common theme linking all of these issues. Ultimately the personal and the societal come together as Derek learns that his father, newly named Christine, is still indeed his father and that Christine’s unique perspective as the first American transgender CEO to transition in office may be just the what the limiting, binary worldview on energy and the environment needs.
The monthly AFS Screening Series at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts resumes Friday and Saturday evening, January 26-27, at 7 p.m. with “Wonderstruck,” directed by Todd Haynes and starring Julianne Moore, and continues February 16-17, March 16-17 and April 27-28—films to be announced.
Pictured at the top: David Hallquist pointing out an outdated transmission line to his son Derek in “Denial.” Photo courtesy of Mosaic Films Inc.
Recent Media Coverage
AFS Screening Series: “Cold Warrior Weekend”
♦ Bridge of Spies screening at the Palace Theatre, Lake Placid, Sun., Feb. 14th, at 2 pm:
– “The Surprising Connection Between Lake Placid and ‘Bridge of Spies,’” a report by Jack LaDuke on “Mountain Lake Journal,” Mountain Lake PBS, Plattsburgh, NY, published online March 4, 2016
– “Conversation with ‘Bridge of Spies’ James Donovan’s Granddaughter,” North Country Correspondent Pat Bradley’s interview with Beth Amorosi, on WAMC (Albany public radio), Feb. 11, 2016
– “Preview: ‘Bridge of Spies’ Cold War discussion in Lake Placid on Sunday,” interview by Todd Moe with Beth Amorosi on North Country Public Radio, Canton, NY, Feb. 12, 2016
– “‘Bridge of Spies’ screening, panel discussion with family Sunday,” Adirondack Film Society-Lake Placid Institute press release, Adirondack Daily Enterprise Weekender, Saranac Lake, NY, Feb. 11, 2016
– “Special ‘Bridge of Spies’ screening set for Lake Placid,” AFS-LPI press release, Press-Republican Out & About, Plattsburgh, NY, Feb. 11, 2016
♦ Free to Rock screenings at LPCA, Fri.-Sat., Feb. 12th-13th, at 7 pm, introduced by director Jim Brown, with a post-screening Q&A:
– “‘Free to Rock’ documentary Friday, Saturday at LPCA,” the lead story in the Weekender section, by Tom Salitsky, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Feb. 11, 2016, featuring an interview with the film’s producer-director, Jim Brown
Previous News Releases
Adirondack Film Society Screens Best Picture Oscar-Winner, “Spotlight”
Lake Placid, NY—The Adirondack Film Society (AFS) Screening Series Version 2.0 at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (LPCA) concludes for the season Friday and Saturday, April 15-16, at 7 pm with Spotlight, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2015. Tickets are $7 and are available by calling the LPCA Box Office at 518.523.2512 or online at www.lakeplacidarts.org. For more info on the AFS, please call 518.588.7275.
The movie tells the riveting true story of the team of Boston Globe reporters and editors who uncovered an unimaginable conspiracy to cover up clergy child abuse. Winner of the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay—by Tom McCarthy, who directed the film—and Josh Singer, Spotlight was also nominated for Best Director, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Mark Ruffalo), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Rachel McAdams) and Best Film Editing.
In 2001, Marty Baron, the new Editor of The Boston Globe, assigns a team of journalists—the “Spotlight” unit—to investigate allegations against John Geoghan, an unfrocked priest accused of molesting more than 80 boys. Led by Spotlight team editor Walter “Robby” Robinson (Michael Keaton), reporters Michael Rezendes (Ruffalo) and Sacha Pfeiffer (McAdams) and researcher Matt Carroll (Brian D’Arcy James) interview victims and try to unseal sensitive documents. The journalists make it their mission to provide proof of a cover-up of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.
The Globe’s Spotlight team is the oldest continuously operating newspaper investigative journalism unit in the United States. The film’s portrayal of the unit’s investigation into cases of widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area is based on a series of stories by the actual Spotlight team that earned the newspaper the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.
“‘Spotlight’ is a gripping detective story and a superlative newsroom drama.” —A. O. Scott, New York Times
“Like any good reporting job, ‘Spotlight’ slowly builds momentum from nothing, gathering disparate bits of information into an emotional juggernaut of a story.” —David Sims, The Atlantic
“Old-style journalism triumphs in the story of the real-life team who knocked on doors and scoured the cuttings library to reveal a scandal that may have begun centuries ago.” —Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
“It’s these survivors who give ‘Spotlight’ its beating heart. Roiling emotions are also felt among reporters who desperately want to get the story right and just as desperately want to get it first. That tension makes for an insanely gripping high-wire act and the year’s most thrilling detective story….This landmark film takes a clear-eyed look at the digital future and honors the one constant that journalism needs to stay alive and relevant: a fighting spirit.”—Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
The AFS Screening Series at LPCA will resume in September. Next up for the AFS: the annual Lake Placid Film Forum, happening Wednesday through Sunday, June 8-12, at LPCA and other venues. For more information on any of these programs or the Adirondack Film Society in general, please contact Operations Manager Fred Balzac at (518) 588-7275 or email@example.com or visit www.adirondackfilmsociety.org.