Everyone at some point in their life has probably been in denial about something. Whether it be about an event in your life, something happening in the world around you, or perhaps even something in your own personality, denial has happened at some point. The documentary, Denial, examines a son, his father, climate change, and how denial has impacted all of these things. When Denial begins it appears to be a film focused on climate change and how the Hallquist family, especially the father and son, have been impacted The Grid and ideas connected to climate change, but then it shifts into a discussion of the father and the reveal of a deep personal truth that leads to unexpected feelings of denial.
When I began watching Denial I was struck by how this documentary feels almost like a documentary about a documentary. When Derek Hallquist began his project he had planned to focus on his father, David Hallquist, and his views on renewable energy and how changes could be made to alter The Grid and help combat the issue of climate change. What Derek did not expect was that his father would reveal that he had been suffering with his identity and at this point in his life wanted to begin embracing a female identity. Derek struggles with his father’s identity and his gradual transition to truly becoming the person he always wanted to be, Christine.
Now typically I would not refer to someone who has transitioned by what is commonly referred to as their dead name, but throughout the documentary Derek refers to his father by this name and as it is following the period of transition pronouns and names shift throughout. When Derek first sits down with Christine on camera he tries to work through his own denial in connection to this transition. It is deeply personal and brave of Christine to show the period of time in which she was living two separate lives. Her overarching hope is to live a life fully as a woman, but feels pressured to live privately as a woman and publicly as a man in order to keep her job and her position within the energy field. As the documentary progresses Christine discusses identifying as transgender and shares that over the course of her life living her truth would have changed so much. Denial is an interesting documentary as it examines not only Christine’s journey, but Derek’s journey through denial, and their commitment to climate change concerns. I would strongly recommend this film as it is such a complex documentary that examines so many deep topics in a well balanced way.
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