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July 12, 2010 | by  | in Film |
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Gasland is a doco that tackles a pressing environmental issue and condemns the Bush/Cheney government. Sound familiar? What makes Gasland so good is the fact it never becomes preachy or pushes a political agenda. Josh Fox deserves a lot of credit for making one of the most interesting and harrowing documentaries of recent years.

The doco starts with Fox receiving a letter outlining how a company wishes to purchase his property to drill for natural gas. Curious about what drilling for natural gas entails, Fox makes some phonecalls and picks up his videocamera to search for answers. What he finds is disturbing. In 2005 the federal government passed a bill that allowed natural gas companies to ignore any environmental damage caused by their drilling procedure known as hydraulic fracturing or hydrofracking. The result of this hydraulic fracturing is thousands of chemicals seeping into water supplies and polluting rivers across America.

The human and environmental toll of hydrofracking is heartbreaking. Interviewees tell of ongoing illnesses and health problems caused by their polluted water supplies. Horses and cats are shown losing their hair. In one memorable scene an interviewee holds a lighter to a tap connected to a local water supply. Within seconds the water from the tap bursts into flames. Rivers are polluted and devoid of life. Thousands of drilling rigs mar the beautiful landscape of rural America. But there is no one to hold accountable for the environmental damage and health problems. All the gas companies are protected by the law.

Gasland’s editing is brilliant. The short shots are essential in maintaining the film’s rapid pace. Unfortunately, several shots in the film are used more than once, detracting from the overall experience as it destroys the grip Fox and editor Matthew Sanchez hold you in. Gasland is personal filmmaking at its best, the sort of filmmaking that is one of the only good things to come out of cinema’s digital revolution. Tragic, empowering and beautiful, Gasland succeeds in championing its environmental cause while being thoroughly enjoyable.

Screening as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival:

Wednesday 28th July, 12.15pm—Paramount.
Saturday 31th July, 3.45pm—Film Archive.
Sunday 1st August, 1:30pm—Te Papa.

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