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Necessity: A Two-Part Documentary on Environmental Resistance and Justice

Necessity, a powerful two-part documentary produced by a team of activist filmmakers, is coming to DVD and digital HD platforms on May 2 and May 9, 2023, through Freestyle Digital Media. The documentary examines the fight against the expansion of pipelines carrying toxic tar sands oil through Native lands and essential waterways in North America. Frontline communities, including Native Peoples and communities of color, bear the brunt of the climate crisis, suffering from physical and mental health impacts, territorial desecration, and displacement.

Necessity Part One: Oil, Water & Climate Resistance follows Indigenous leaders and white allies in Minnesota who are using direct action to protect the sacred and demand justice. The documentary features tribal attorney and activist Tara Houska and Honor the Earth water protector Debra Topping, who guide the journey through critical geographical and political terrain. Legal experts also expose the disparate treatment in the justice system and the legal strategy of climate activists in using the necessity defense, which makes a moral case for acts of civil disobedience.

Necessity Part Two: Climate Justice & The Thin Green Line is set along the rivers of Oregon and the Columbia Gorge. The documentary features Lauren Regan, a criminal defense attorney who uses the same strategy to defend her clients, including social worker and Umatilla tribal elder Cathy Sampson-Kruse, arrested for blocking a megaload carrying toxic materials. The documentary also explores intertribal alliances at the heart of a regional fight over oil trains and terminals. It highlights some of the dilemmas that arise around the use of the necessity defense and shows the jury trial of activists using this defense in Oregon. The events unfold around an oil train explosion that almost devastated Mosier, a small town along the Columbia River.

Necessity was co-directed by Jan Haaken, a filmmaker and professor emeritus of psychology at Portland State University, and Samantha Praus, a fellow researcher and filmmaker. The documentary was produced by a team of activists, including Jan Haaken, David Cress, Tara Johnson-Medinger, Haunani Kalama, and Cathy Sampson-Kruse.

Necessity: A Two-Part Documentary on Environmental Resistance and Justice 1

As filmmaker Jan Haaken explains, “Storytelling through documentary films plays an important role in how we picture the climate crisis and how we catch glimmers of paths forward.” Necessity brings visual power and drama to the struggles of people from different backgrounds and regions of the country who come together to stop industries that threaten their communities and life on the planet. Don’t miss this powerful documentary on environmental resistance and justice.

Visit the Necessity website at for more information.

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