USA, 2007, 93 minutes
Fri, Apr 27 / 07:45 / Kabuki / UNFO27K
Sun, Apr 29 / 12:30 / Kabuki / UNFO29K
"I didn’t want to be a cowboy, I didn’t want to be a farmer, I didn’t want to be any of those things," comments well-intentioned but misguided housing developer Gary Bradley, "Even from an early age, I wanted to be someplace else." Bradley’s sentiment is not uncommon. Every day young people leave their families in search of freedom and success, which in Bradley’s case meant leaving his family’s farm for the economic and development zeitgeist in Austin, Texas in the early 1970s. A modest real estate developer, Bradley had big ideas. His concept was the 4,000-acre Circle C Ranch, an upscale subdivision—a city within a city—a few miles upstream from Barton Springs, a much-loved water wonder in Austin. Partnering with the corporation Freeport-McMoRan gave Bradley economic clout but also proved to be his downfall, for the company had an egregious environmental record that sounded alarm bells among Austin’s burgeoning environmental movement. The Unforeseen chronicles the ensuing battle among Bradley and the developers, the environmental activists (including Robert Redford, who learned to swim in Barton Springs), politicians and property owners. Director Laura Dunn does not oversimplify the issue but instead asks complex questions: What are an individual’s rights to own, develop and sell property; How much growth is good; When does public space turn into a marketplace; and, Who is accountable for the repercussions of this growth? Though Dunn attempts to present Bradley and other small developers not as villains, her "paved paradise" lament is palpable. The Unforeseen reminds us that Barton Springs is emblematic of the struggle everywhere to balance natural resources with economic growth. As journalist William Greider concisely puts it, "Growth itself is not the enemy, it is the nature of that growth—the quality within."
West Coast Premiere. Sponsored by Sundance Channel and Comcast.