IN MEMORIAM (1919-2019)
POWER STRUGGLE chronicles a rare victory of grassroots activists - a successful citizens’ effort to protect the environment by shutting down an aging nuclear power plant in Vermont.
A timely inspiring story of democracy in action, the climate justice movement, and the power of citizens’ voices against big moneyed interests.
POWER STRUGGLE is excellent for catalyzing classroom and community discussions about what ordinary citizens can do to affect change.
POWER STRUGGLE is a compelling story that gives audiences hope that grassroots activism can be effective at bringing about positive social change in the world.
Filmed over five years, this feature-length documentary portrays the heated political battle to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, located on the banks of the Connecticut River in southern Vermont.
POWER STRUGGLE follows the unfolding drama as citizen activists and elected state officials—alarmed at increasing safety violations—take on the federal government and one of the biggest power companies in the United States and eventually win.
The film captures perspectives on all sides of the controversy, including from local residents both for and against nuclear power, elected officials (including U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin), nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, a Vermont Yankee spokesperson, federal nuclear regulators, and the legendary activist Frances Crowe.
POWER STRUGGLE puts nuclear power and the long-term hazards of radioactive waste on the radar screen for current debates about environmental protection and the ethical impact of technology on our society. It is one of the only films that links nuclear power and the climate justice movement.
Directed and produced by Robbie Leppzer and Turning Tide Productions based in Wendell, MA, in association with NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation).
Original music composed and performed by John Sheldon.
Running Time: 86 minutes. (Also available in a 52-minute version.)
In this time of political turmoil and despair about the future of our planet, numerous educators have found POWER STRUGGLE to be a compelling classroom tool that engages students in discussion, stimulates young people to think about their role in society and, most importantly, gives them hope that people can make a difference through collective action. (See below for review quotes from professors and journalists.)
POWER STRUGGLE motivates students to become active change agents. This film is particularly effective in courses related to:
• Political Science
• Environmental Studies
• Science and Technology
• Film Studies
Filmmaker Robbie Leppzer is available to speak with POWER STRUGGLE on colleges campuses and at high schools to participate in a classroom or large forum Q & A with students — either in person or via an online video link. In addition, he can present a retrospective of his documentary films chronicling 40 years of grassroots social change activism.
“POWER STRUGGLE is the remarkable story about how people power overcame corporate power and government cover-ups to finally shut down an aging and dangerous nuclear plant. We see how small town citizens were transformed into tenacious environmental activists who triumphed against the odds. POWER STRUGGLE is a hopeful story that reminds us that citizen activism is not just possible, it is essential to saving our endangered planet.”
— David Goodman, best-selling author, journalist and radio host, THE VERMONT CONVERSATION
“POWER STRUGGLE is an effective classroom tool to catalyze discussions, inspire students to think critically about political and corporate power structures, and encourage people to become active change agents in the world. The film is also a compelling primer on persuasive communication by grassroots activists influencing elected officials and public opinion about one of the burning issues of our time.”
— Sut Jhally, Chair, Department of Communication, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Executive Director, Media Education Foundation
“POWER STRUGGLE is both frightening and inspiring. Frightening in the matter-of-fact way in which it reminds viewers of the threat to human health that nuclear power plants continue to pose. Inspiring for the story of ordinary people who refuse to accept that risk. Director Robbie Leppzer patiently follows the story over years, and celebrates how citizen engagement eventually prevailed, but wisely avoids imposing a happy ending, by reminding us about the long-term legacy of the nuclear waste that gets left behind. These kinds of stories, so important to creating a more deeply democratic society, would often go untold without independent media. For more than four decades, Leppzer has been an exemplar of that independence, combining a mastery of the craft of storytelling through documentary films with an incisive analysis of how power operates. POWER STRUGGLE is journalism at its best.”
— Robert Jensen, Professor Emeritus of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin
“POWER STRUGGLE should ensure engaging conversations on a number of topics, including the role that citizens can play in a participatory democracy, the fight for a safe and sustainable energy future, and the long-term impact of nuclear technology on our society.”
— Kate Purdie Professor, Department of Visual & Performing Arts, Bennington College
“With his documentary film POWER STRUGGLE, Robbie Leppzer has created an important and detailed study of a social movement in a specific political and environmental campaign. This film can be used in university and high school classrooms to show what it means to organize around a social, political, or environmental issue. I hope this film will be widely used in a broad range of classes that are teaching strategies and methods for policy advocacy, political organizing, and social action.”
— Professor Dr. John Ungerleider, Former Chair of Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation M.A., School For International Training Graduate Institute; Adjunct Faculty at Brandeis College, Marlboro College, Community College of Vermont
“A genuine David vs. Goliath battle. A rich story of whether grassroots democracy, in the form of citizens and local government, can triumph over entrenched, powerful interests like the nuclear energy industry. Through a story with many twists and turns, Leppzer keeps the film’s focus on the individuals caught up in the drama.”
— Steve Pfarrer, DAILY HAMPSHIRE GAZETTE
“POWER STRUGGLE is a great film. All activists and engaged citizens should see this living document on how people must and can change the world.”
— Harvey Wasserman, author of SOLARTOPIA!, radio host of SOLARTOPIA GREEN POWER AND WELLNESS SHOW
“While POWER STRUGGLE is absolutely essential for any community living in the midst of a dangerous, aging nuclear reactor, it is also a quintessential film for anyone wanting to organize a grassroots peoples' campaign on any issue. POWER STRUGGLE is not only a film about how a committed group of activists, determined and dug in for the long haul, forced an energy corporation to shut down a nuclear power plant. It is a model people can replicate in a host of contemporary struggles. The success of the peoples' campaign in Vermont portrayed in POWER STRUGGLE offers a guide for the future. The film demonstrates how, as Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
— Rob Okun, Editor and Publisher, VOICE MALE: The Magazine for Changing Men
“David and Goliath battles always need to be documented so people understand the power they have to achieve a desired result even against ridiculous odds. POWER STRUGGLE documents the acts of ordinary people, many of them senior women, who brought down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant by focusing their energies, intellects and actions in a unified way. Infuriating, deeply moving, and ultimately uplifting, POWER STRUGGLE provides an important record of what it takes to successfully battle a nuclear reactor into shutdown.”
— Libbe HaLevy, Producer/Host, NUCLEAR HOTSEAT