Gasland

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Gasland
Gaslandlogo.jpg
Directed byJosh Fox
Produced byTrish Adlesic
Molly Gandour
Josh Fox
David Roma
Written byJosh Fox
Narrated byJosh Fox
CinematographyJosh Fox
Editing byMatthew Sanchez
Distributed byNew Video Group
Release date(s)
  • January 24, 2010 (2010-01-24) (Sundance)
Running time104 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$49,428
 
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Gasland
Gaslandlogo.jpg
Directed byJosh Fox
Produced byTrish Adlesic
Molly Gandour
Josh Fox
David Roma
Written byJosh Fox
Narrated byJosh Fox
CinematographyJosh Fox
Editing byMatthew Sanchez
Distributed byNew Video Group
Release date(s)
  • January 24, 2010 (2010-01-24) (Sundance)
Running time104 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Box office$49,428

Gasland is a 2010 American documentary written and directed by Josh Fox. Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2011, the film focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, a method of horizontal drilling into shale formations known as slickwater fracking.

Synopsis[edit]

Fox narrates his reception of a letter in May, 2008, from a natural gas company offering to lease his family's land in Milanville, Pennsylvania for $100,000 to drill for gas.[1] This claim has been challenged by Energy In Depth, which has stated that the lease to which Fox refers in the movie was never offered and did not provide a $100,000 offer.[2] Fox then set out to see how communities are being affected in the west where a natural gas drilling boom has been underway for the last decade. He spent time with citizens in their homes and on their land as they relayed their stories of natural gas drilling in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Texas, among others. He spoke with residents who have experienced a variety of chronic health problems directly traceable to contamination of their air, of their water wells or of surface water. In some instances, the residents are reporting that they obtained a court injunction or settlement monies from gas companies to replace the affected water supplies with potable water or water purification kits.[3]

Throughout the documentary, Fox reached out to scientists, politicians and gas industry executives and ultimately found himself in the halls of Congress as a subcommittee was discussing the Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals Act, "a bill to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to repeal a certain exemption for hydraulic fracturing."[4] Hydraulic fracturing was exempted from the Safe Drinking Water Act in the Energy Policy Act of 2005.[5]

Production[edit]

Gasland was conceived, directed, primarily filmed and narrated by Fox. This is his first documentary and second film; his first was a narrative feature entitled Memorial Day. The executive producers of Gasland are Debra Winger and Hunter Gray; producers are Trish Adlesic, Fox and Molly Gandour; co-produced by David Roma; cinematographers are Fox and Matthew Sanchez; editor is Matthew Sanchez; supervising sound editor is Brian Scibinico;[6] animators are Juan Cardarelli and Alex Tyson; consultants are Morgan Jenness and Henry Chalfant and researchers are Molly Gandour, Barbara Arindell, Fox and Joe Levine.[7]

The documentary was made in about eighteen months. Fox began the project as a one man crew, but was joined by three other cameras at different points.[8] Matt Sanchez is credited with the structure of the film and together with Fox edited roughly 200 hours of footage to about 100 minutes.[9]

"Biogenic" and "thermogenic"[edit]

Dave Neslin and the State of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources issued a statement regarding “errors in the film’s portrayal of the Colorado incidents.”[10] Neslin, now of David Graham and Stubbs LLP [11], a law firm specializing in representing energy companies [12], was approached but not included in the film. His statement focuses in part on a distinction between biogenic and thermogenic gas:

Since the gas is sampled at some unknown distance from the source of the contamination, the mixture of gases in the sample is often not conclusive. In this case, carbon dating and similar techniques are used to determine the age of the sample. Biogenic methane is young: the molecule was recently put together. Thermogenic methane is old.

Weld County, Colorado[edit]

Weld County is north of Denver 40°06′N 104°42′W / 40.1°N 104.7°W / 40.1; -104.7

Thermogenic argument
The biogenic argument
The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission uses the origin of the methane, either biogenic or thermogenic, to determine whether or not the groundwater contamination can be attributed to natural gas drilling. According to the agency, natural gas drilling does not lead to the presence of biogenic methane. The 2008 COGIS report concluded that "there [were] no indications of oil and gas related impacts to [Markham's] water well." Markham’s water well was drilled through four different coal beds containing biogenic methane gas.[10]
Reply to the biogenic argument
Dr. Anthony Ingraffea, D. C. Baum Professor of Engineering at Cornell University, whose research has involved fracture mechanics for more than 30 years, has said that drilling and hydraulic fracturing can liberate biogenic natural gas into a fresh water aquifer. That is, just because gas is biogenic does not necessarily indicate that it reached a well by natural means.[17]

Reception[edit]

Positive[edit]

Robert Koehler of Variety referred to it as "one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years… Gasland may become to the dangers of natural gas drilling what Silent Spring was to DDT.”[18]

Eric Kohn of IndieWire wrote, "Gasland is the paragon of first person activist filmmaking done right… By grounding a massive environmental issue in its personal ramifications, Fox turns Gasland into a remarkably urgent diary of national concerns."[19]

Stewart Nusbaumer of the Huffington Post wrote "Gasland... just might take you from outrage right into the fire of action."[20]

Gasland currently holds a 97% rating on the film site Rotten Tomatoes based on 37 reviews.[21] Mark Kermode of BBC Radio 5 Live gave it a generally positive review, criticizing its similarity to other recent oil documentaries, yet praising its "extraordinary visual kick". He said "it is a very interesting story which is made better by the fact that the visuals of it are very poetic, very lyrical", and felt that its themes and ideas were relevant and well presented.

The Denton Record Chronicle said “Fox decides that his own backyard in Pennsylvania isn’t his exclusive property... Set to his own banjo music and clever footage, Gasland is both sad and scary... if your soul isn’t moved by the documentary, yours is a heart of shale."[22]

Bloomberg News critic Dave Shiflett wrote that Fox "may go down in history as the Paul Revere of fracking."[23]

Chicago TimeOut gave Gasland four out of five stars.[24]

In Australia, film critic Julie Riggs called the documentary a "horror movie, and a wake-up call."[25][26]

Fort Worth Business Press writer John-Laurent Tronche talks about the growing number of documentaries “that aim to shed a light on what they call a dirty, destructive practice: shale gas exploration. And although oil and gas supporters have labeled the motion pictures as radical propaganda, a local drilling activist said they’re part of a larger, critical look into an ever-growing industry."[27]

Negative[edit]

Energy in Depth (EiD), launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America,[28] has created a web page with a list of claimed factual inaccuracies in the documentary,[29] and produced an associated film titled TruthLand.[30] In response to the EID's list of claimed factual inaccuracies, the makers of Gasland offered a rebuttal.[31]

In an article for Forbes magazine, Dr. Michael Economides, a professor of engineering at the University of Houston, commented on the Gasland scene of "a man lighting his faucet water on fire and making the ridiculous claim that natural gas drilling is responsible for the incident. The clip, though attention-getting, is wildly inaccurate and irresponsible. To begin with, the vertical depth separation between drinking water aquifers and reservoir targets for gas production is several thousand feet of impermeable rock. Any interchange between the two, if it were possible, would have happened already in geologic time, measured in tens of millions of years, not in recent history."[32]

In January 2013, independent filmmaker and investigative journalist Phelim McAleer released his Kickstarter-funded FrackNation, a documentary highly critical[33] of Gasland, claiming that Fox knowingly hid relevant information on naturally occurring "burning springs".[34]

Awards[edit]

Won

Nominated

Sequel[edit]

A sequel to Gasland titled Gasland Part II premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City on April 21, 2013.[35][36][37][38] A group of farmers, who were featured in FrackNation, were barred from attending the premier; the Festival stated that the group had not arrived in time and that the screening was full.[39][40][41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) film page on Gasland. 2010-11-19
  2. ^ http://eidmarcellus.org/blog/something-rotten-in-gasland/1400/
  3. ^ Quoted from the Gasland documentary itself, at about minutes 35-40.
  4. ^ 111th United States Congress. "S. 1215: Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals (FRAC) Act." 2010-04-27
  5. ^ Energy Policy Act of 2005. Pub. L. 109-58, TITLE III, Subtitle C, SEC. 322. Hydraulic fracturing. 2011-02-06
  6. ^ "Brian Scibinico". imdb. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  7. ^ Sundance Film Festival. “Artists Interview at Sundance and About the Film.” 2010-04-24.
  8. ^ MakingOf. "Interview: Josh Fox." 2010-02-25. 2010-05-04.
  9. ^ IndieWire. “Sundance ’10: Gasland Director Josh Fox on Being a One Man Crew.” 2010-01-22. 2010-04-24.
  10. ^ a b c Statement of the State of Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) regarding Gasland
  11. ^ Press release mentioning David Neslin from his new firm
  12. ^ "About DGS". Davis Graham & Stubbs LLP. 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013. 
  13. ^ COGCc map Using the "zoom in" tool, zoom in three times on Denver
  14. ^ Gasland, The Ellsworths, at 0:25:00
  15. ^ Weld County landowner Mike Markham's complaint
  16. ^ Weld County landowner Renee McClure's complaint
  17. ^ Affirming Gasland
  18. ^ Koehler, Robert (2010-01-25). "Gasland Movie Review from the Sundance Film Festival". Variety. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  19. ^ Kohn, Eric (2010-01-30). "The Toxic Avenger: Josh Fox's 'GasLand'". indieWIRE. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  20. ^ Nusbaumer, Stewart (2010-02-18). "Big Sky Doc Film Fest: Gasland Fuel for Justice". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  21. ^ "Gasland (2010)". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  22. ^ Breeding, Lucinda (2010-02-18). "'GasLand' Worthy of Sundance Accolades". Denton Record-Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-04-24. 
  23. ^ Shiflett, Dave (2010-06-21). "Cook a Hamburger, Blow Up Your Polluted Town". Bloomberg. 
  24. ^ Kenigsberg, Ben (2010-11-24). "Gasland - Film - Time Out Chicago". Chicago.timeout.com. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  25. ^ "Movietime - 19 November 2010 - Gasland". Abc.net.au. 2010-11-19. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  26. ^ "RN Australia Talks - 8 December 2010 - Australia Talks Movies: Gasland". Abc.net.au. Retrieved 2011-07-13. 
  27. ^ Tronche, John-Laurent (2010-04-12). "Drilling Documentaries Abound as Shale Gas Goes Nationwide". Fort Worth Business Press. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  28. ^ Honan, Edith (2010-06-17). "Film challenges safety of U.S. shale gas drilling". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-06-28. 
  29. ^ Energy in Depth (June 9, 2010). "Debunking GasLand". Retrieved December 17, 2011. 
  30. ^ "A project of IPAA and Energy In Depth". TruthLand Movie. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  31. ^ "Affirming Gasland". 
  32. ^ Economides, Michael (2010-04-22). "Slurring Natural Gas with Flaming Faucets and Other Propaganda". Forbes.com. 
  33. ^ Hollywood Reporter, Mark Cuban's AXS TV Picks Up Pro-Fracking Documentary 'FrackNation', Dec. 17, 2012
  34. ^ http://www.indianagazette.com/news/opinions-letters/michael-s-knapp-fracknation-shows-truth-about-drilling,16936732/
  35. ^ Jeff Goodell. "New Anti-Fracking Film by Gasland's Josh Fox Targets Cuomo: 'Governor, What Color Will the Sky Be Over New York?' | Jeff Goodell | Politics News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  36. ^ Posted: 05/15/2012 3:56 pm (2012-05-15). "Josh Fox, 'Gasland' Filmmaker And Activist, Working On Documentary Sequel". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  37. ^ "Josh Fox Arrested on Capitol Hill While Filming 'Gasland' Sequel | Filmmakers, Film Industry, Film Festivals, Awards & Movie Reviews". Indiewire. 2012-02-01. Retrieved 2013-03-09. 
  38. ^ "Gasland Part II". Tribeca Enterprises LLC. Retrieved 2013-04-10. 
  39. ^ Fox News, 'FrackNation' filmmaker claims group of farmers was barred from 'Gasland Part II' screening at Tribeca, April 23, 2013
  40. ^ "Tribeca Film Festival lies about shutting out farmers". FrackNation. April 22, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 
  41. ^ "Tribeca Film Festival Turns Away Protesters Who Had Tickets to ‘Gasland’ Sequel". New York Times. April 22, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-16. 

External links[edit]