Audience members at a San Luis Obispo International Film Festival screening of the Keystone XL Pipeline documentary "Pipe Dream" were treated to a surprise celebrity appearance on Friday, as "Splash" actress Daryl Hannah, who narrated the film, showed up to conduct a question-and-answer session.
"Yes, the rumors are true," a festival volunteer told the surprised crowd of 60 people prior to the film. "Daryl Hannah will be speaking to us later."
Hannah and director Leslie Iwerks, who was honored by the festival this week, spoke after a showing of Iwerk's "Recycled Life" (a documentary on a group of individuals known as "guajeros" who live in a landfill in Guatemala City) and "Pipe Dream."
Hannah, who was arrested in early February at a Keystone XL Pipeline protest in front of the White House, said the controversy surrounding the proposed pipeline, which would stretch from the northern United States border to the Gulf of Mexico, first came to her attention while she was visiting friends on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
"I went on a horseback ride with a bunch of the chiefs of the Rosebud nation, the Lakota nation, and we rode the trajectory of where the pipeline was supposed to go," she said. "They have very, very few ways to get any uncontaminated water. (The pipeline) is something that will kill them if it comes through their land and there is a spill."
For Keystone to be built, President Obama will have to support it. Republicans and business and labor groups have urged the Obama administration to approve the project as a source of jobs and a step toward North American energy independence. Environmental groups have been pressuring the president to reject the pipeline, saying it would carry "dirty oil" that contributes to global warming. They also worry about a spill.
Hannah has become an outspoken proponent of keeping the pipeline project out of the U.S. So when it came time for Iwerks to find a narrator for her latest project, Hannah was the director's first choice.
"We were looking for someone really great to narrate it, and I knew that Daryl had been such an amazing advocate for this issue and for the environmental cause," Iwerks said. "We reached out to her and she called literally within an hour and said, 'I'll do it.'"
Throughout the lively half hour question-and-answer segment, which was originally scheduled for only 10 minutes, Hannah and Iwerks shared their insights into what both said was "the biggest environmental issue facing the United States."
Hannah also made several references to her multiple protest arrests, prompting one individual to thank her for her time spent in jail, followed by a round of applause from the audience.
Overall, Hannah prompted all audience members to take action against the project, though perhaps not as radically as she had.
"Call. Write. Let your voice be heard," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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