HRFF 2020: Our Review of ‘Conscience Point’

Posted in Human Rights Film Festival, What's Streaming? by - December 05, 2020
HRFF 2020: Our Review of ‘Conscience Point’

Director Treva Wurmfeld’s documentary film Conscience Point concerns itself with the Shinnecock Indian Nation and its struggle to maintain its land on the Eastern shores of Long Island. The land has been the sacred home to the tribe for thousands of years. That’s true of many First Nations peoples of Canada and the U.S. But those respective governments have systematically appropriated that land since the first European settlers arrived in the 17th Century.

Long Island is of course home to The Hamptons, a locale for the uber-elite. And the encroachment of these enormous houses – and all of the infrastructure that goes along with them – has been causing ecological impact on the sacred lands for years. Further, the Shinnecock Hills Golf Club purchased land from the government. It is built over a burial ground that has been used for years. And human remains were literally thrown in dumpsters during construction. Still, the owners of the golf club will not allow the Shinnecock people on to the private property. 

Much of the film follows its main subject Rebecca Hill-Genia in a legal battle to either reclaim the stolen land. She’s also preventing its desecration. 

Conscience Point is a powerful film. Its short, 73 minute run-time allows its impact to be ever-present. We see a real estate developer who finds every excuse to allow himself to sleep well at night. We see a woman who approaches the protesting Shinnecock people to try to commiserate and understand their plight. Yet she still manages to come across as smug. The film does have a hopeful note towards the end. But the amount of bureaucratic red tape that has yet to be surmounted is considerable.

This is very much a film worth seeing – as a rallying cry, as well as providing historical and social context.

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