University cancels ag doc to ensure it’s “scientifically sound”; was to air on TPT

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The decision by the University of Minnesota to cancel broadcast of the documentary “Troubled Waters: A Mississippi River Story,” continues to generate controversy. The film, exploring agricultural pollution and possible solutions, had been set to air on Twin Cities Public Television on Oct. 5. The story was broken by the Twin Cities Daily Planet, a local news site.

University News Service director Daniel Wolter told the Daily Planet that the Bell Museum is responsible for halting the release. That’s part of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Natural Resource Sciences, and where the film was to premiere on Oct. 3. “We are an academic and science-based institution, and we want to ensure a production like this is scientifically sound,” Wolter said. The film’s director, Larkin McPhee, told the Daily Planet in an email: “I do not understand why the University postponed the film’s broadcast. I am, along with many others, awaiting explanation from the U.”

But now the Star Tribune is reporting that Barbara Coffin, head of the film unit at the Bell Museum, calls the situation “our messy internal confusion.” She adds: “Unfortunately, an impulsive late-hour decision to pull the film from broadcast was made without wide internal discussion.”

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