2022 Cinema of Law: Invisible Hand

Tuesday, March 15, 2022
6 p.m. - 9 p.m.


Berkshire Athenaeum, 1 Wendell Ave., Pittsfield, MA 01201

Contact for 2022 Cinema of Law: Invisible Hand

Berkshire Law Library


76 East St., Pittsfield, MA 01201

Overview of 2022 Cinema of Law: Invisible Hand

Each year in March, the Berkshire Law Library, in partnership with the Berkshire Athenaeum and the Berkshire Bar Association, holds the "Cinema of Law" program. We show films about the law, either documentaries or dramas, and we invite attorneys or judges to speak about the legal issues raised by the films. The speakers generally talk for about 15-20 minutes before the films, and stay to answer questions afterwards. 

The presentations begin at 6 p.m. in the auditorium downstairs in the Berkshire Athenaeum, on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield. 

Attention Berkshire Community College Students: This program has been approved for Forum Credit.

Invisible Hand (2020)

Introduction by Attorney Elisabeth Goodmanwith enlightening comments on the legal aspects of the film.

This 85 minute documentary follows people in 4 different parts of the country and their fight for the rights of nature, a worldwide movement.

Grant Township, PA: The community works to protect groundwater from industrial waste.
Toledo, OH: A community votes to enact the Lake Erie Bill of Rights.
Standing Rock, ND: Indigenous tribes and its allies fight to protect nature from the same industry that threatens Grant Township.
Pennsylvania/New York Border: Seneca Nation and surrounding communities fight to stop radioactive fracking waste from entering the Allegheny River.  

Grant Township, PA made history in 2014 when, for the first time in the United States, an ecosystem filed to defend itself in a lawsuit. Its defense was the “right to exist”. In response, the corporation threatening the groundwater of Grant Township and the state government sued the entire community. The documentary follows the residents and their fight to defend the rights of their land and groundwater.

The Lake Erie Bill of Rights (LEBR) enacted in Toledo, Ohio was an amendment to the municipal charter that recognized Lake Erie’s right to exist, gave it legal standing, and empowered the community to sue on the lake’s behalf. The fight for the lake’s rights was inspired by the state’s failure to protect the lake from contamination. The documentary follows the community’s continued fight to keep the LEBR in place.  

In Standing Rock, the documentary follows indigenous tribes and their allies in the fight to stop the Dakota Pipeline, which has gained nationwide attention from the militarized force used against the activists at Standing Rock.

On the Pennsylvania and New York border, the Seneca Nation is joined by Standing Rock activists and the surrounding community to fight against the contamination of the Allegheny River caused by radioactive fracking waste.

The film was produced and narrated by Mark Ruffalo, and directed by Joshua B. Pribanic and Melissa A. Troutman. It won four best documentary awards, including Best Documentary Feature from the Hollywood Verge Film Awards, Spotlight Documentary Film Awards’ Gold Award, 2021 Common Good International Film Festival Audience Award, and Accolade Global Film Competition Award of Excellence for Documentary.

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