A unique film about the filmmaker's father, a utility executive and smart grid pioneer in a nation in denial about climate change, who battles his own denial about his true identity.
Directed by Derek Hallquist
Produced by Aaron Woolf
Edited by Anoosh Tertzakian
A film by Derek Hallquist, Aaron Woolf, Anoosh Tertzakian
Producers: Derek Hallquist, Shirel Kozak, Daniel DiMauro, Christopher St. John
Original Music: Kyle Wilson
Camera: Derek Hallquist, Aaron Woolf, Daniel DiMauro, Mark Covino, Matt Snell-Callanen, Chris Frierson
Executive Producers: Eugene Jarecki, Aaron Woolf
Executive Producer for ITVS: Sally Jo Fifer
A co-production of the Independent Television Service (ITVS) with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)
[Note: Community screenings of DENIAL can be booked at Bullfrog Communities.]
"Stunningly well-made. Denial is that rare documentary that actually shows us change." Marguerite Waller, Professor, Gender & Sexuality Studies, UC-Riverside
Before Christine Hallquist was running for Governor of Vermont, she was David Hallquist, the CEO of the largest locally owned electric utility in Vermont. 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. 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 the 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.
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 must apply that same transparency to his personal life and reveals to his son a lifelong secret. Dave Hallquist, who presents as a chainsaw-wielding, hard hat-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 ice caps and 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.
Grade Level: 10 -12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2017
Copyright Date: 2016
DVD ISBN: 1-941545-82-3
"Stunningly well-made. Denial is that rare documentary that actually shows us change. People and understandings, as well as climate and sexuality, are represented as fluid - messy and disruptive, but life-giving. This is an eco-film where science and technology, personal and political conflict, humility, love, and aesthetic virtuosity forge unexpected and beautiful alliances."
Marguerite Waller, Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of California, Riverside
"Dynamic, passionate...Denial wrestles with many of the conditions of contemporary human existence...Revealing and well-informed. Viewers should be aware that the dual narrative of this film is a risky personal narrative of gender transition that reaches well beyond the engineering of energy in our lives. The compilation has a deeply intimate beauty while also reaching well beyond the boundaries of traditional energy documentaries."
Dr. Brian Black, Professor of History and Environmental Studies, Penn State Altoona, Editor, Energy and Society
"Denial compellingly merges our country's refusal to accept the truth of gender's complexity with our denial about climate change and a failed energy system...The themes of transparency, honesty, compromise, and complexity in relation to gender identity/expression and climate change render this film a perfect fit for courses in environmental justice, women's and gender studies, queer theory, and environmental studies."
Dr. Katie Hogan, Director of Women's and Gender Studies, Professor of English, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
"Denial tells exactly the kind of complex, deeply personal story about climate change we need at this moment. It is about a passionate energy expert/activist and the compromises she makes to move a utility toward more sustainable power generation; it is also about her own gender transition and the compromises she makes to negotiate her identity with her family and professional community. The intersection of these two stories is emotionally and politically powerful: how do we deal with change, with denial, and with the fact that many issues - personal and global - may not ultimately be amenable to compromise?"
Catriona Sandilands, Professor of Environmental Studies, York University
"Recommended...Some sources subtitle this documentary 'the dad that wanted to change the world'...A well-done program."
Bonnie Jo Dopp, Educational Media Reviews Online
"Heartbreaking, honest, and insightful."
Kristan Majors Chilcoat, Emory University, Science Books and Films
"A moving portrayal of a family in flux set in the context of a larger world in crisis...The film wisely asks, how will we - as individuals, as community members, as a species - adapt to a changing world? It also begs a question not typically found in 'traditional' environmental documentaries: Can more inclusive, dynamic understandings of gender and sexuality lead us to more courageous thinking about how to sustain life on an ailing planet?"
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DVD includes 2 versions of the film: 92 and 57 minutes, SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, and scene selection.
Host a community screening
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Awards and Festivals
Audience Award, Environmental Film Festival at Yale
People's Choice Award, Best Documentary Feature, ReadingFilmFEST
Jury Honorable Mention, OUTshine Film Festival
Honorable Mention, MIFo - Miami LGBT Film Festival
Los Angeles Film Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Planet In Focus Film Festival
Twin Cities Film Festival
Rizoma Film Festival Spain
Workers Unite! Film Festival
Wild & Scenic Film Festival
Oneota Film Festival
Climate Change/Global Warming
Labor and Work Issues
Public Administration and Policy
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