March 12, 2020  (Web Review)

My Country No More

(2019) 70 min & 54 min. DVD: $350. Bullfrog Films (www.bullfrogfilms.com). ISBN: 1-948745-29-1.

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

This PBS-aired documentary by Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling considers the divisions within Trenton, North Dakota, a tiny rural town at the center of the modern wave of American oil drilling activity. The film’s focus is on the siblings Kalie and Jed Rider, a school dietitian and a rancher, who find themselves challenged by seismic changes around them. When the siblings’ uncle decides to sell a piece of his land to an oil entity, it sets off a dramatic reaction in Trenton as the longtime local livelihood of family farming is threatened by a new and massive industry. Within this community, drama surrounds a local church, which is on land being considered for a new refinery. Kalie and Jed find themselves at different ends of the response spectrum, with Jed eyeing a future away from Trenton and Kalie preparing to become an activist to fight the proposed changes in town. To its credit, the film does not fall into anti-energy company agitprop, and the filmmakers generously offer camera time for local residents who are supportive of the new oil economy and the economic benefits that it provides. As stories from today’s rural America rarely find screen time, this production—available in 70-minute and 54-minute versions—is an invigorating consideration of an often-forgotten corner of American society. Recommended. Aud: C, P. (P. Hall)