Polish fracking campaigners join UK activists in anti-fracking tour

A farmer who is resisting fracking in his community, and the Polish film director Lech Kowalski are coming to the UK to meet activists fighting against shale gas and oil extraction in their communities.

The farmer, Emil Jablonski is the mayor of Zurawlow, a village in Eastern Poland. He is fighting a campaign against Chevron who plan to drill for gas near his home. Joblonski will meet with members of Frack Free Sussex who are protesting against shale drilling in the Weald Basin.

The Polish activists will meet their British counterparts on Monday (15th July) in Balcombe, Sussex – a village at the forefront of the fight against fracking in the UK. They will then join a tour of Kowalski’s film ‘Drill Baby Drill’ around the South East of England.

- Free Tickets for the film tour are available here -

Keith Taylor, MEP for the South East, is organizing the film tour and hosting Lech Kowalski and Emil Jablonski. Mr Taylor said:

“Lech Kowalksi and Emil Jablonski are coming to the UK to share their experience of fighting fracking in Poland.

Their visit comes just weeks after our Government announced tax breaks for fracking companies and financial incentives for communities in an effort to encourage shale drilling in our countryside.

I’m sure that those fighting fracking in my constituency will draw strength from Emil’s amazing fight against Chevron in his hometown.”

Balcombe is widely expected to see shale oil exploitation after Cuadrilla, an exploration company, applied for permits to drill near the village.

Emil Jablonski, a 49 year old father of three, said:

“I’m really pleased to be coming to the UK and meeting campaigners fighting the same fight as me.

In Poland we are engaged in a long battle against Chevron who desperately want to drill in my community. We are not going to give up the fight until Chevron have left our community alone and we are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with activists in the UK who are committed to fighting fracking in their home towns.”

Lech Kowalski, director of Drill Baby Drill, said:

“I am coming to the UK because it is important that the world learns how Chevron is dealing with farmers and residents who do not want shale gas drilling in their village and in their country.

The government of Poland never informed citizens of deals made with energy companies to sell huge tracts of land. One third of Poland has leases for shale gas.

It is my duty as a filmmaker to take a stand with the farmers to fight against this aggression.”

Vanessa Vine, of Frack Free Sussex, said:

“This visit from Emil and Lech underlines a fast-growing and deeply heartwarming solidarity amongst honest, intelligent, everyday people from all walks of life and across the world who are standing up against fracking.”

Ends

Interviews are available upon request with Keith Taylor MEP, Lech Kowalski and Emil Jablonski (who speaks Polish but can be translated by Mr Kowalski).

Contact: Matthew Butcher on 0207 250 8418 or 07940 500 633

More information from Lech: www.lechkowalski.com

Lech and Emil will join the ‘Drill Baby Drill’ film tour for three dates:

Monday 15th July: Victory Hall, Balcombe http://drillbabydrillbalcombe.eventbrite.co.uk/

Tuesday 16th July: Quaker Meeting House, Oxford http://drillbabydrilloxford.eventbrite.co.uk/

Wednesday 17th July: RISC, Reading http://drillbabydrillreading.eventbrite.co.uk/

Additional information:

A statement from Lech Kowalski:

“Emil Jablonski is the mayor of Zurawlow, the village where Chevron entered a second time on June 3, 2013. This was almost a year after Chevron entered the same village in the film Drill Baby Drill. And this is after Chevron said they do not want to drill there. Emil is 7th generation here in this village. He 49 years old and has three children. He is part of an action against Chevron called OccupyChevron. Emil will not give up until Chevron leaves. Farmers want Chevron out of Poland. Last week the European Court in Luxembourg said that Chevron did not obtain the leases legally in Poland. I am coming with Emil because it is important that the world learns how Chevron is dealing with farmers and residents who do not want shale gas drilling in their village and in their country. The government of Poland never informed citizens of deals made with energy companies to sell huge tracts of land. One third of Poland has leases for shale gas. Most land is prime farm land. It is my duty as a filmmaker to take a stand with the farmers to fight against this aggression. I have been with the farmers for 38 days filming and will not leave until Chevron leaves.”

About Lech Kowalski:

Director Lech Kowalski is a cult figure in underground cinema.  He began his career in the 70’s in New York. His impressive array of documentaries have garnered critical praise and awards such as the Best film for East of Paradise at Venice film festival in 2005, the Special Jury Award for On Hitler’s Highway at the 2002 Amsterdam International Documentary Film Festival, and the Golden Gate Award for Rock Soup at the 1992 San Francisco International Film Festival. His seminal film, D.O.A. (1980), is a punk escapade that follows the Sex Pistols tour of the USA. Since 2008 Kowalski has been experimenting new visual guerilla techniques using the aestheticism and the logistic of the internet to reach his audience around the world  www.camerawar.tv (awarded Silver Screen Prize in the  4 screens European Festival).  Kowalski considers farmers as the new underground. He filmed Holy Field Holy War on farms in Poland, (3 awards at FID Marseille, July 2013). Drill Baby Drill is about a farmer’s rebellion against the fourth largest energy company in the world. The farmers prevented Chevron from building a shale gas well in their village in eastern Poland. This critically acclaimed film played on television in 2013 in France and Germany. Kowalski has taught at the French film academy La FEMIS and at HEAD school of art in Geneva.