TROUBLING THE STILL WATERS OF DENIAL: Writer/Director Derek Hallquist’s Beautifully Crafted Telling of His Father’s Journey


By: Vernon Nickerson

Still waters run deep is a proverb of Latin origin now commonly taken to mean that a placid exterior hides a passionate or subtle nature.” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


“Denial” Writer and Director Derek Hallquist’s exquisitely composed story of his parent Christine Hallquist’s (nee David Hallquist) life, is the ultimate 21st Century story of speaking truth to power.  The feature film is in part the story of one human being, Christine Hallquist’s (nee David Hallquist), confronting the national energy production industry as CEO of the Vermont Electric Collaborative. It remains to be seen whether an industry that has solely relied upon coal as an inefficient and environmentally toxic means to meet our world’s exponentially growing demand for electricity will ever embrace alternative, less toxic and more efficient sources of electricity.

While the optimist in me hopes that this film will be a wake-up call to climate change deniers. However, the cynical pragmatist in me says that there may just be too much money to be made by continuing to support the current fossil fuel status quo. Perhaps the best way for optimism to win the day is for everyone who reads this review to take someone they love to see this movie. The movie clocks in at a little over 90 minutes and will leave you hoping for one or more sequels. But I digress.

The other part of Denial is the deeper running “water” of David Hallquist’s decision to speak truth to the power of generations of societal transphobia and ignorance by undertaking a male-to-female transition while continuing to lead his familial and professional communities. But even this part of the story has a twist, specifically, there appear to be no dire consequences to David’s big reveal. Perhaps makes sense when one considers that Denial’s protagonist is caucasian and male and in an earned power position as CEO of an established energy company in Vermont. Even Christine’s prostate cancer diagnosis and subsequent testicular surgery and treatment are welcome events in her transition from male to female. Ironically, how Christine and her family deal with a cancer diagnosis– typically a traumatic denial ridden experience for most humans, is the only major issue addressed in the film where there is acceptance, acknowledgment, no anger and a total absence of denial.

It is a rare film that so eloquently illustrates the love, courage power and commitment of diverse communities that I longed for in 1997 when I created the following verse for a poetry slam in Minneapolis Minnesota.


SEGREGATION IS OKAY as long as everyone stays in the same room, INTEGRATION HAPPENS NATURALLY!


Denial is that film. I strongly suggest that EVERYONE GO SEE IT! “Denial” had it’s premiere at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival with a very powerful debut.

For more information and to follow the film go here