First Run Features is proud to announce the theatrical premiere of Company Town, a new feature-length documentary about environmental injustice, corporate accountability and community action in a small rural town in Arkansas. The film opens at New York’s Cinema Village on September 8, 2017, for one week only, with Los Angeles and other cities to follow.
Crossett, Arkansas is home to about 5,500 people, one Georgia-Pacific paper and chemical plant owned by billionaire brothers Charles Koch and David Koch, and a startling rate of cancer and illness. The groundbreaking investigative documentary Company Town follows local pastor David Bouie as he fights to save his community. It offers a rare look inside a small town ruled by a single company, where the government’s environmental protections have been subverted and ignored, leaving its citizens to take on entrenched powers in a fight for justice. Crossett is just one of hundreds of towns across America polluted by big business and failed by local, state and federal environmental protections. Company Town ultimately asks, what do you do when the company you work for and live next to is making you sick? It is the story of a modern-day David vs. Goliath.
Crossett’s residents are up against one of the nation’s largest industrial company: Koch Industries. Pastor Bouie worked at the Koch’s Georgia-Pacific plant for ten years, and on Penn Road, the street where he lives, 11 out 15 households lost someone to cancer. He seeks answers, and actions, to protect the lives of his neighbors, many of whom have worked their entire lives at the plant, making products like Angel Soft, Brawny Paper Towels, Quilted Northern and Dixie paper cups. He galvanizes the town, revealing untold stories of health and medical crises.
Filmed over the course of nearly four years, Company Town offers first-hand accounts from a wide range of residents in Crossett’s “cancer cluster,” including Simone Smith, who was diagnosed with cancer at 9 years old; Hazel Parker, a former Georgia-Pacific employee whose mother, sister and father died from cancer; and Leroy Patton, the only person on his block to survive his health battle. And it brings to light the account on one whistle-blower who puts his life and family on the line to shed light on Georgia-Pacific’s egregious pollution, cover up and political influence.
“It took me a while to figure out it was a total cover up. And it took me a while to figure out this was all pollution and this was all poison… I feel for the community, yes I do. They have been poisoned forever and no one’s doing anything about it.”
– Whistle-blower (as reported in The New Yorker)
The filmmaking team, helmed by Natalie & Erica with Act 4 Entertainment and The American Independent Institute, bring to light the bravery and collective action of Pastor Bouie, his congregation, and a variety of activist, organizers and environmental scientists—from Ouachita Riverkeeper Cheryl Slavant, who has been collecting health surveys and assisting scientists with air and water testing, to Barry Sulkin, Wilma Subra and Anthony Samsel, environmental scientists investigating pollution in the town’s Ouachita River. Company Town also offers chilling perspectives from experts working in the realms of federal environmental law, investigative reporting, public policy, corporate crimes and deregulation. Through these powerful personal accounts and testimonies, Company Town makes very real the consequences of battles that are fought in Washington — which in turn profoundly impact the well-being for people in towns like Crossett across the nation.
Natalie Kottke-Masocco (Director/Writer/Producer) is a documentary filmmaker, writer, and activist. She directed Company Town, which garnered distribution with First Run Features and will premiere theatrically in New York, Fall 2017. Company Town premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and screened at Sheffield Doc in the UK, a feature-length documentary about environmental injustice in a small rural town in Crossett, Arkansas, which was featured in The New Yorker. Natalie discovered this story in 2011, and spent six years documenting air and water pollution and cancer deaths in Crossett, gaining access to the community, workers, and a whistleblower. The residents had a profound impact on her life, witnessing their fight for justice. She received a documentary investigative journalism fellowship with The American Independent Institute in Washington, D.C. and partnered with Act 4 Entertainment, a film entertainment and new media company created to inspire social action. She recently produced a story for the Emmy nominated documentary series, Chef’s Table on Netflix, and produced on an investigate documentary series for National Geographic Channel, and a documentary film about the Dalai Lama for National Geographic, Explorer. She has produced multiple award-winning investigative documentaries, including, Brave New Films:Unmanned: America’s Drone War, War on Whistleblowers: Free Press & The National Security State, and Koch Brothers Exposed, and has produced documentaries and television for Elevative Entertainment, CBS, E! Networks, as well as new media content on women’s rights, voting rights, and immigration and healthcare reform. Natalie’s love of telling stories is aimed at shedding light on social issues. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
Erica Sardarian (Co-Director/Writer/Producer)is a filmmaker who began her career in digital media and television, producing for the Travel Channel, History Channel, E!, A&E, Cooking Channel, FX, and Fox Movie Channel. Her experience spans from notable shows including the long-running educational series Modern Marvels on the History Channel to the investigative two-hour documentary O.J. Speaks: The Hidden Tapes on A&E. Erica received an investigative journalism fellowship with The American Independent Institute. She has written and directed two short films about living in New York City and recently directed a short digital documentary about loss, hope, and healing. Erica is also the creator of Sweet Little Nothings xo- a greeting card company whose mission is to bring love and kindness to the world by one simple, thoughtful gesture. She continues her fulfilling work telling human stories and is passionate about creating awareness and change in the world.
Director/Writer/Producer: Natalie Kottke-Masocco
Co-Director/Writer/Producer: Erica Sardarian
Cinematographer/Editor/Producer: Edgar Sardarian
Additional Cinematography: Edward Holub
Executive Producers: David Johnson, Sidney Blumenthal, David Brock
Producer: Adam Paul Smith
Associate Producers: Erin Fitch, Sarah Strunin, Carey Cameron, Lindsay Canton
Penn Road Productions, Inc in partnership with Act 4 Entertainment and The American Independent Institute
Directors – Natalie Kottke-Masocco, Erica Sardarian
Run Time – 90 minutes
Language – English
Format – Digital
Year – 2017
Genre – Documentary