This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



Documentary reveals that wind turbines are not necessarily the wave of the future

WINDFALL (Laura Israel, 2010)
Quad Cinema
34 West 13th St.
Opens Friday, February 3

Longtime music video and photography editor Laura Israel’s debut feature documentary, Windfall, is filled with a lot of hot air. In the exposé, Israel delves into the battle over the potential installation of multiple wind turbines in the poor farming village of Meredith in upstate New York, where Israel has a small cabin. Several years ago, developers started approaching Meredith residents, many of whom had moved there to escape the crowded, polluted madness of the big city and bond with nature, and offered them money in order to start placing four-hundred-foot-tall wind turbines, weighing more than a thousand tons apiece, on their property. As some people signed on, others looked askance at the corporations’ proposals, leading to ongoing fights over the safety, aesthetic look, and overall value of the green alternative energy source, pitting friend against friend, neighbor against neighbor. Israel places herself firmly on the side that wants to ban wind turbines from Meredith, a conceit that results in a clearly biased documentary that plays more like a presentation to be shown at a local town hall meeting than in movie theaters around the country. Israel is successful, however, in revealing several unexpected side effects of wind turbines, including affecting the physical and mental health of families who live near them. “I started to tell my friends back in New York City what I had found out about potential negative aspects of industrial wind energy. I was shouted at, called a NIMBY (not in my backyard) and a whiner,” Israel states in a production note. “I realized that if people won’t even question the status quo when it comes to this issue, then it really requires further scrutiny and in fact would be a great reason to make a film.” While it might be “a great reason to make a film,” Windfall, winner of the Viewfinders Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 DOC NYC festival, ends up being far from a great film, although it does achieve one of its main goals of urging people to think twice before jumping on some green bandwagons.

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