Sundance environmental films: energy


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.

GASLAND follows in the footsteps of a number of other powerful documentaries on energy development and use that have made their mark (and, often, their debut) at Sundance. Some of the others you may want to check out:

  • CRUDE (2009): Joe Berlinger’s documentary focuses on a David and Goliath story in South America: five Indigenous Ecuadoran tribes’ legal battle with Chevron for compensation for a massive illegal dumping of oil in the Ecuadoran Amazon.

  • FIELDS OF FUEL (2008): Is biodiesel the solution to the US’ addiction to oil? Josh Tickell’s film explores this alternative liquid fuel, and his own cross-country journey in a biodiesel-powered van to educate Americans about its potential.

  • UP THE YANGTZE (2008): What are the environmental and cultural costs of the Three Gorges Dam, a symbol of China’s rapid economic ascension? Yung Chang’s documentary takes a holistic look at this massive effort to provide energy for the rapidly-growing country.

  • WHO KILLED THE ELECTRIC CAR? (2006): This now-legendary documentary explores General Motors’ development of the EV1 electric vehicle… and its subsequent destruction of it.

GASLAND premieres on January 25th in Park City, and is one of the entries in the U.S. Documentary competition at the festival.