Gasland

Ever heard of fracking? Well, we suggest you read on...

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Gasland is a provocative new film that takes us straight to the heartland of America, where the breathtaking natural environment is under threat due to the relentless pursuit of new energy sources. Filmmaker Josh Fox is our amiable guide on a road trip that winds its way through tense courtroom scenes, pristine lakes, ugly oil wells and towering mountain ranges.

After Fox received a letter from a natural gas company offering $100,000 for permission to explore the lush forests and waters around his home, his curiosity led him to discover the existence of a large-scale mining campaign in the United States. Major oil and gas companies are using hydraulic fracturing (\'fracking\'), a method by which a massive drill causes mini-earthquakes underground to release natural gas reservoirs. Through this process, a dangerous mix of chemicals is pumped into the ground, contaminating natural water reservoirs. Numerous pollutants are also spewed into the air as by-products.

Fox interviewed dozens of residents to find out how this largely unregulated project is affecting the health and wellbeing of those in close proximity to the mines and oil wells. The talking heads are intercut with diagrams and graphics to explain how chemical processes are causing such devastating neurological effects as the loss of the ability to detect differences in taste and smell.

Some of the film\'s most powerful political statements are also the most subtly delivered. For example, a lingering close-up of a row of bottled water at a crucial congressional hearing highlights the fact that the companies that produce them stand to profit immensely from the contamination of natural water supplies. A shot of wind turbines during the closing credits and the use of Radiohead\'s song \'4 Minute Warning\' during an emotional scene remind the audience to be aware of the viable alternatives to the destructive practices being carried out on their land, and our land - reports suggest the fracking process will soon be extended to Australia.

The documentary has a home movie aesthetic, giving the testimony of all involved an intimate and confessional feel. Fox\'s narration brings a light touch to the proceedings, and his measured delivery brings to mind Edward Norton\'s understated yet politically charged commentary in Fight Club. The sardonic sense of humour injected by Fox\'s narration and the stories wryly told by the colourful characters he interviews help to elevate Gasland from a depressing polemic to an inspiring treatise about a frighteningly relevant issue that we can\'t afford to ignore.

 Gasland is released November 18. Read our interview with Josh Fox here.

 

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