How to Blow Up a Pipeline (2023, U.S., 99 min. + post-film discussion)
When the world seems to be ending, what do you do in response? Where do you put your grief, your anger, your frustration, and your desire to act? What happens when we don’t have constructive channels for our emotions?
For the protagonists of Daniel Goldhaber’s How to Blow Up a Pipeline, based upon Andreas Malm’s book of the same title, the answer is eco-terrorism. How else can they overcome the urgency and scale of the moment without succumbing to the impotence and helplessness that defines their feelings about climate change? Coming together as a principled libertarian, an enraged victim of environmental injustice, a disengaged youth seeking a thrill, and perhaps, even, as a traitor, these characters hailing from all walks of life have found their way to blowing up a pipeline crossing the Texas plains as a means of taking a stand and trying to change the narrative and course of our political and economic systems. Will they succeed? Do we, as viewers, want them to? The tense thriller leaves your head spinning as you try to keep up with characters you empathize with and actions you may not.
In screening this film to close out our series on From Anxiety to Action, we are not endorsing eco-terrorism. Rather, we want to invite a conversation about how we avoid that being the outlet for frustrated and angry youth. How do we get to constructive collective action that honors everyone’s fears and creates a positive future for us all? Left in isolation, too many can turn to darker impulses. Brought together into the light, we can harness our emotions (even sadness and grief) towards a more positive future for all, where action supplants anxiety. Join us for a thought-provoking discussion!
This event is put on by Penn State Sustainability with support from WPSU, the Center for Global Workers' Rights, the Penn State Water Council, and the CLA Sustainability Council.