Independent Lens follows the Rise and Fall of the Rural Oil Boom in "My Country No More"

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04 January 2019
My Country No More
Courtesy of Joshua Hammerling
“My Country No More”
Premieres Monday, January 7 at 10 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)
          Between 2011 and 2016, oil drilling in rural North Dakota reached its peak, setting off a modern-day gold rush in Trenton, North Dakota, population less than 1000. With billions of dollars to be gained in an industry-friendly state with a “reasonable regulation” climate, small towns like Trenton became overwhelmed by an influx of workers, and countless acres of farmland were repurposed for industrial development. My Country No More, a new documentary produced and directed by Rita Baghdadi and Jeremiah Hammerling, follows the rise and fall of the oil boom in North Dakota and paints a portrait of a rural American community in crisis.
          Through the voices of Trenton’s residents, the film challenges the notion of “progress” and questions the long-term human consequences of short-term approaches to land use, decisions that ultimate affect all Americans, rural and urban alike.

          Kalie Rider and her older brother Jed are striving to return to a life of farming after having suffered the loss of their parents’ farm during the 1980s farm crisis. Their uncle’s decision to sell a piece of land for a planned ethanol plant sets off a chain of consequences from which there is no turning back. With the Trenton church being eyed for a diesel refinery, the community becomes divided, with some favoring development and jobs, and others bemoaning the loss of their rural way of life.
My Country No More Courtesy ofpbs
          “Although the media frenzy surrounding the Dakota Access Pipeline has faded, My Country No More reveals how small communities like Trenton, North Dakota are forever changed by the rise and fall of the oil boom," said Lois Vossen, executive producer of Independent Lens. “Rita and Jeremiah have created a contemplative, beautifully shot film about a town caught between economic opportunity and personal regret. As the foundation of life and identity shifts beneath their feet, the people of Trenton are left asking what is the value of community history and what sacrifices are they willing to make to preserve a vanishing way of life."
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