Pro-fracking filmmaker accuses IMF of censorship by AFP, March 21, 2013, France24.com
AFP – The maker of a documentary in support of oil and gas fracking accused the International Monetary Fund Thursday of censorship after it declined to show a key clip from his film at a conference. Phelim McAleer, whose film “FrackNation” argues in support of the controversial exploration technique, said the IMF was afraid of offending Russia by letting him show the clip at the conference this week. The clip suggests that allowing fracking in Eastern European countries such as Poland would ease the region’s dependence on imported energy. It alleges that powerful gas exporter Russia was financing the anti-fracking movement to protect its sales. “Basically they were censoring my presentation, they were censoring my speech,” said McAleer. “They’re trying to force people not to say terrible things because it could offend one of their senior members,” he told AFP. “They didn’t want to offend Russia.”
McAleer had been invited to make a presentation at lunch on Wednesday, the first day of the two day joint IMF-Oxford University conference in Washington on commodity prices. But he decided not to attend after the IMF said in an email that it could not permit the clip on Russia and Poland “without allowing others to have their say on the matter.” “Since that isn’t possible on this occasion, Phelim will have to skip that,” it said in the email, viewed by AFP. The IMF said it welcomed McAleer showing other excerpts from his documentary. McAleer called their reasoning “nonsense”. “It was shocking actually… A conference is supposed to be a robust exchange of ideas.” “If fracking goes ahead in eastern Europe, (Russia gas exporter) Gazprom will lose a lot of money. And Gazprom is really what keeps the Russian state going.” He said that the IMF clearly did not want to anger Moscow by permitting him to show the clip. In an email to AFP Thursday, an IMF spokeswoman defended the action. “Given the conference is a public event hosted by an international institution, we had discussed with Mr. McAleer to remove one clip in his presentation as it would have required to have others have their say on the matter addressed in the clip,” she said. “As this was not possible, Mr. McAleer said he would prefer to cancel his speaking engagement.” McAleer’s documentary was first shown on a US cable TV channel in January, and a New York Times review said it was “methodically researched.” McAleer funded the film from more than $200,000 in donations pledged last year on the crowd-funding website Kickstarter.