While Josh Fox and his 2010 documentary GASLAND weren’t single-handedly responsible for the increased attention given to the natural gas extraction technique of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”), the film certainly did create an image many people now associate with the process: flaming tap water. It also didn’t win Fox many friends in the natural gas industry. Though industry reps have tried to argue against specific points in GASLAND, they’ve had a hard time overcoming that image of water burning in a Colorado man’s kitchen sink. So they decided to make their own movie.
Every week there are dozens of film news stories. Every week, we read them all and bring you the five most important ones in the single most important blog post you’ll ever read (today [at this moment]).
If filmmakers are poets, than documentarians stand out for their use of synecdoche: the most powerful docs almost always rely on stories that point to issues bigger than themselves. AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH isn’t just about climate change, but also about human shepherding of resources. GASLAND isn’t just about fracking, but corporate power, and its effects on the lives of individuals.
Two documentaries premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival not only follow in this poetic tradition, but even revel in it.
Image from HOWL
Journalists at film festivals invariably find themselves with the task of connecting the dots among dozens of disparate movies — looking for the big picture, whether in the form of a new fad or a larger cultural moment (e.g., last year’s elusive search, during a Sundance that coincided with a historic inauguration, for the quintessential Obama movie). Expect lots of trend-spotting once Sundance 2010 kicks off on Thursday night, and expect these three topics to get plenty of play:
Imagine receiving a lucrative offer from an energy company to drill for natural gas on property you own. Would you take it? What would that drilling mean in terms of environmental quality for the land itself and the surrounding community? Filmmaker Josh Fox received such an offer, and his documentary GASLAND, which has its world premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, explores the impact of gas extraction, especially the process of “fracking,” and the environmental consequences that can come from the quest for this “clean” energy source.