The Brag

[Sydney Film Festival 2010] Review: GasLand

In Arts, Film Reviews, Sydney Film Festival 2010 on June 8, 2010 at 11:22 am

GasLand (USA)

Next screening: Saturday June 12 / 2:00pm /  Dendy Opera Quays

Josh Fox’s GasLand, winner of the Special Jury Prize for Documentary at Sundance 2010, joins a host of recent films designed to scare the bejesus out of their viewers; Inconvenient Truth, The End of the Line, Food inc.. Taking us on a pollution road trip, the very likeable documentary-maker tours natural gas drilling sites in 24 States across America, looking at the consequences of the under-regulated practice of hydraulic fracturing on local water and air quality.

Fox’s documentary undertaking is a direct result of proposed drilling in his area (Catskills/Poconos region of Upstate New York and Pennsylvania). When a natural gas company offers him US$100,000 to lease his land, this puts Fox slap-bang in the centre of the issue. As the film’s protagonist he examines the environmental and social impacts of drilling.

His investigation takes him to many housholds affected by having drilling on their properties or in the vicinty.  Their tapwater is flamable- infused with toxic chemicals used in fracing, victims live with chronic illness and their pets and livestock also suffer. Despite a wealth of damning evidence, natural gas companies remain wilfully ignorant and the government refuses to intervene.

This documentary explores how the industry was and is able to expand so quickly and importantly how laws were manipulated to expediate the flow of natural gases in an attempt to counterbalance America’s reliance on foreign oil. The film also highlights the tragic reshaping of the natural environment across America, with its beautiful mountainous landscapes dotted with drills and heavy machinery.

GasLand should anger, exasperate and shock its audience. Co-presented by the City of Sydney’s Green Campaign and the SFF, the problems revealed in this film may exist much closer to home than we would like. Visit the Hunter Valley Protection Alliance to see what is happening in our own backyard. [BETH WILSON]

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