Sunday, February 07, 2010


It's a bonus when two of one's passions coincide and such is the case with my love for film eliding smoothly with my recent interest in the dangers of natural gas drilling in The Marcellus Shale. For several months now I've been plugging a friends blog ( Gracenomics ) which has published a flurry of entries warning of the ecological  nightmare that is going to be unleashed on the lower third of New York State if uncontrolled horizontal drilling for natural gas in The Marcellus Shale is permitted. Grace van Hulsteyn who publishes the blog has a place in Cochection New York, two miles from the Delaware River, one of the threatened resources and a short distance down river is the town of Milanville, home of Josh Fox, whose film, Gasland just won a special jury prize for a documentary at the Sundance Film Festival.  Mr. Fox is more of a performance artist than a film maker ( though he does have an earlier film, Memorial Day, to his credit ), but he grew alarmed about the potential damage to the delicate eco-system of the Delaware based on evidence of gas company abuses in other parts of his home state of Pennsylvania. The review from Variety that was  datelined Park City, Utah, home of Sundance, tells the story of what happened next.

I'm looking forward to the opening of this film since it will no doubt bring to the forefront the dangers of unfettered gas drilling to the water supply of New York City as well as Philadelphia and dozens of other cities and towns. Along with Gracenomics there are numerous blogs on the subject and there have been editorials in The New York Times, meetings and demonstrations in New York and Albany and all sorts of conclaves, seminars and other discussions of this problem, but all of that will fade to silence before the power of a well crafted, accurate polemic film.  No doubt the oil and gas megadons will smear Mr. Fox and offer distorted rebuttals, but so it was with SuperSize Me and eventually McDonald's had to back down and remove the offensive marketing device from its menu. From Triumph of the Will to Farenheit  9/11, the power of cinema to persuade has been proven time and  again. One can only hope that the early enthusiasm for Gasland's ability to influence opinion is warranted.