Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Battle brews over Gasland

In a rather odd move, the Energy for Depth group (which represents oil and gas producers) recently submitted a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences arguing Gasland shouldn't be eligible for an Oscar for best documentary. Their reasoning: it's not accurate.

Regardless of the fact the Academy could care less what non-members think about their nominees and have no desire to play the role of fact checker (fiction and nonfiction films alike get blasted every year for alleged inaccuracies), it seems Gasland has ruffled quite a few feathers to cause controversy to linger well after its initial release.

This is not unusual with 'whistleblower' documentaries. Michael Moore is notorious for inciting backlash from the industries he attacks and An Inconvenient Truth had its fair share of rebuttals. But unlike those more successful films, John Fox's Gasland is but a mere blip- earning less theatrical sales then a one night screening of a Saw film.

What's more impressive is that this ongoing campaign to discredit Fox's film has only helped it gain steam. The director released a 39 page document last summer to challenge any discrediting reports and has since gone on a mission to screen his film for Congressional members and citizens in countless cities.

I don't know if Gasland is wholly accurate (I tend to side with it though) but I do know this: it's an excellent film, and from a purely filmmaker standpoint, it deserves to be considered for best documentary of the year. I also know this: trying to discredit a documentary filmmaker who just spent countless hours researching and investigating a subject is like poking a sleeping lion - you just don't do it.

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