Tribeca: Reporter Arrested After Covering 'Gasland II' Protest (Video)

Gasland Pic - H 2013
Charles Petersheim

Gasland Pic - H 2013

UPDATED: Julia Mineeva says a festival employee took her press pass by force after she interviewed protesters outside the premiere of Josh Fox's anti-fracking documentary sequel.

A journalist covering a commotion outside of the Gasland II screening on Sunday at the Tribeca Film Festival says organizers had her arrested, and that the media outlets for which she works are now planning legal action.

Julia Mineeva, a former Russian TV anchor, told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday that a festival employee ripped her press credentials from her neck and accused of her being disruptive. After Mineeva left the theater lobby and walked for several blocks, a police officer handcuffed her, took her to jail for about 30 minutes and issued a summons for trespassing.

The ordeal began outside Gasland II, where several festivalgoers who disagree with the premise of the film -- that a technique for drilling for natural gas called fracking is contaminating water and despoiling the earth -- were raising a ruckus in part because they weren’t allowed to see the film even though they had tickets.

The festival, however, says protesters with tickets weren't allowed inside simply because the theater was full. Protesters took lots of video, and three clips are below. One, though, mistakenly identifies Tammie Rosen, a Tribeca publicist.

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Mineeva, who was covering the festival for, says she was interviewing protesters. When she entered the theater lobby she was accosted by a festival employee, she says.

“This was total harassment. She was following me around,” Mineeva said of one Tribeca worker. “She was violating the rules of her own festival. She grabbed my badge. It was so violent and hostile that my neck now hurts.”

Tribeca had no comment about the incident, but insiders say Mineeva is exaggerating in an attempt to seek attention.

“She was difficult at every red carpet. How she spun this to be about Gasland is beyond me,” an insider said. “She would literally chase the talent. This has nothing to do with Gasland. She’s trying to get attention for herself. Security removed her and she was arrested when she mouthed off to police.”

Nonsense, said Mineeva, who says it’s the fifth straight year she has covered the festival without incident. She also says she has video of the activities on the red carpet and that her boss, Roger Hanwehr, a producer with Genesis Broadcasting, was monitoring the situation from a few blocks away via Mineeva’s open cell phone.

“We’re going to be filing a criminal complaint with the United States attorney for New York against both the NYPD, Tribeca Film Festival organization and Rubenstein Communications,” Hanwehr tells THR. “We’re alleging that Julia’s civil rights and rights as an accredited press member were violated and that there was a conspiracy that the NYPD officers were usurped and used by the organizers at Tribeca to stifle dissent.”

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Inside the theater, Gasland II screened and director Josh Fox took questions from the audience. Musician Yoko Ono walked the carpet and answered questions from reporters there. Television interviews took place inside the lobby because, as one insider put it, "People were screaming so loud for so long, they couldn't do TV interviews outside. They weren't just protesting with signs, they were screaming at the top of their lungs."

One protester, Chuck Petersheim, said a festival spokeswoman “lied through her teeth” about what transpired that day. He attended with his girlfriend who had a seat, but when she left the theater to see why Petersheim was still outside, security wouldn’t allow her back in.

“Fox and Ono are famous for protesting, and this is how they react when they are protested on?” Petersheim said, suggesting the two directed the crackdown on protesters. “I’ve never seen a Josh Fox protest get met with heavy-handed, scary security. John Lennon would be rolling over in his grave.”

But one witness who spoke on the condition of anonymity said Ono and Fox had nothing to do with the way protesters were treated. "The protesters were certainly allowed to make their voices heard loud and clear," said the witness.

Tribeca issued the following statement:

Gasland Part II had its World Premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. Guests that had purchased advance tickets and were in line for the film 30 minutes prior, as our ticket policy states, were admitted into the screening. Once the house was at capacity, the remaining ticket holders who had not been in line were unfortunately not able to be accommodated in the theater. We are sorry that the few ticket holders who stayed outside gave up their seats to those who waited in line. The film is being shown three more times during the festival and we welcome them to come to any of those screenings. Tickets are still available.”

Phelim McAleer, who made the movie FrackNation, which seeks to discredit claims made in the original Gasland, disputes the Tribeca account. He said officials told him and others that they "would not feel comfortable" if protesters were in the audience. "They wanted only those who agreed with them in the theater," he said.