Festival Film Review: Gasland - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Festival Film Review: Gasland

A scene from "Gasland." A scene from "Gasland."
Director Josh Fox, who started the International WOW company, which produces theater and films, becomes the Erin Brockovich of documentarians, only he's not as pretty as Julia Roberts. He certainly doesn't have her cleavage. When a company offers Fox $100,000 so they can drill on his land, he wants to know what will be involved. The land in question is where Fox's childhood home sits, which is linked to the Delaware River. Fox was curious about this company. He was also curious about how they were going to be drilling. This movie is the result of those curiosities.
GasLand is really an exploration of what hydraulic fracturing is and how it can affect people's lives. The problem is Fox's explanation of it is too complicated and really brings the movie down in terms of pacing and a lot of viewers might become bored or sleepy trying to listen to Fox's explanation. Like a lot of documentarians living in the shadow of Michael Moore, Fox's attempts are really to expose corporate greed and political corruption, which seeks to hurt working class or poor people.
Like Erin Brockovich, GasLand involves a corporation doing something that ultimately pollutes the water system, which ends with people getting sick and dying. In this case, that something is called hydraulic fracturing or "fracking" and the simplified version is that it's a way of drilling for natural gas that ends with tons of chemicals inside the water table. Fox goes to areas where this type of drilling is occurring and talks to neighbors who are being affected. Fox is not able to talk to any official representatives of the oil and gas companies, so he has to become a water detective in order to learn what they're doing.
He's able to talk to a whistleblower who says the Environmental Protection Agency or EPA was asleep at the wheel when it came to dealing with this mess, not that it could do much anyway being that the industry was deregulated under the Bush administration. Fox refers to the Halliburton loophole, which most people can guess as to what that loophole entails.
The crowning achievement or best piece of footage, which was actually captured by TV news cameras first, is the video of a family being able to light the water coming out of their faucet on fire. It's a pretty amazing sight and even though his techniques aren't that spectacular, for what he uncovers, this film is worth seeing.
Four Stars out of Five
Rated TV-PG /Originally aired on HBO.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 43 mins.
Playing at the Chespeake Film Festival
Saturday, Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m.
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