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Zed Nelson, a friend and award winning photographer, has created a film documentary called Shelter in Place. He showcased the film for a selected few at a morning screening on Sunday, December 13th at the Soho Curzon cinema. IIf you are interested in finding out about the lives of people without a voice of their own, finding out about further side effects of fossil fuels or seeing a well made film with real characters and great images, then go see it!

We all have a right to clean air. Don’t we?!

About the film…

A compelling portrait of a community living on the shadow of big industry.  Civil rights, environmental pollution and a battle against corporate power…Texas style.


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“Shelter in Place won the 2008 Short Pitch at the BRITDOC Festival, and was premiered at the Sheffield DocFest film festival last month.

It is the vast, sprawling complexes of oil refineries and petro-chemical plants that help make the Texan
economy one of the biggest in the world. But does the wealth come at too high a price to the local
community? Texan industries are legally permitted to release millions of tons of toxic pollutants into
the air each year, plus thousands of tons more in ‘accidental’ or ‘unscheduled’ releases. When these
incidents happen, local residents are told to stay in their homes and tape up their windows and doors.
This procedure is called ‘Shelter in Place’. Communities living on the fenceline of Texan industry are
usually poor, African American and powerless to protest. This film is an intimate portrait of a
community battling against environmental pollution and corporate power.”

In Zed’s introductory and post-show commentary he informed us of the filming process and bringing this project together, which has taken about 5 years and involved a lot of learning of the processes involved. Mr Williams, a local resident in Texas and who is featured in the film, was the instigator for taking this project on.

The film is clear in message, thought provoking and made with a good eye full of feature impacting imagery. The Texan skies never seem to change colour and wherever the camera is filming there is always a backdrop view of a refinery. Most people interviewed would seem to grasp the issue of their circumstance but are unable to seek solutions due to their financial and social position. Prisons don’t have to have steel bars and locks around them…

According to the film facts there are 13,000+ toxic release ‘incidents’ a year, which are not in my book classed under unavoidable accidents. There must be patterns in such numbers and considering the financial returns these companies have, investment should be made to a. relocate the local communities and b. on a wider scale, reduce the environmental pollution.

One leaves the film feeling great concern about the communities involved, the efforts we could make to put pressure on the parties concerned and great hope from Mr. Williams himself who is an inspirational figure for us all. Hope has the last word.

Zed Nelson is a well known photographer; he recently released his second book titled “Love Me” following his first and award winning “Gun Nation”. More information on his projects and about him can be found here.

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