Thursday, November 18, 2010
Water water everywhere but not a drop to drink
November 18 2010 (Australian release date)
Dir: Josh Fox
While you may consider being able to set fire to your tap water a nifty Jesus style party trick, after watching Josh Fox's documentary GasLand you'll be deliriously happy that you can even DRINK your tap water.
Fox is not a filmmaker, as he points out early. His shock that people would talk to him just because he had a video camera was instinctively regarded, by me, as evidence of the naivety of the common man. It was soon apparent, however, that it was not naivety but desperation to have their voice, and their plight, heard.
What would you do if you received a letter stating you'd be paid thousands of dollars by an energy company if you leased your land to them? Fracking hell, (sorry, couldn't resist) thousands of dollars just for leasing my land, what's the catch? Oh nothing big, they'll just drill down and tap into the "Saudi Arabia of natural gas" that lies waiting patiently for someone to make a profit from it. What they won't tell you, or the workers on these rigs, is what's in the chemical cocktail used in the process called hydraulic fracturing (or "fracking") and what those chemicals can do once they get into your water supply, and trust us, they'll get into your water supply! Fox receives such a letter, for a cool $100,000, and, intrigued, decides to play detective in what turns into a cross country investigation.
If your only experience with the David versus Goliath stories of corporate energy and the average tax payer is Steven Soderbergh's Erin Brockovich (2000) then you're in for a treat. Josh Fox doesn't parade around in skimpy outfits and use his breasts to get to the bottom of things - that would make for an entirely different sort of film. Nevertheless, Fox does get to the bottom of things in a very grass roots style, by connecting with people just like him; people that love the land and live off the land, people whose lives have been destroyed by the fracking capitalist monster.
GasLand is a very basic documentary made for minimal money; one might even ponder if Fox had additional funding, could he have bought a tripod? The message is clear however, and it's one everyone should listen to. While some say it's too late for America, in more ways than the environment, Australia is in the beginning stages of exploring similar processes so now's the time to get educated and have your voice heard.
This isn't a film you need to see in cinemas, though I don't know when you'll get the chance to watch it once it finishes its limited run, so you're better off checking those listings and finding one near you. The narration is at times grating, particularly for someone so passionate about the subject matter, but Fox's personality along with the people he meets on his journey make for an involving look at a devastating subject. It only scratches the surface but Fox's documentary is a great starting point.
3.5 / 5