We're all used to seeing the politics of the Oscars – not a year goes by now where studios don't get out and campaign for their films (and in the case of 'The Hurt Locker' producer Nicolas Chartier, actively campaign against other contenders), but it's not nearly as common to see an entire industry outside of Hollywood get in on the act.
That's changed this year. The stage is currently being set for a showdown between the Oil and natural gas industry's Energy in Depth and 'Gasland' director Josh Fox. What's at stake in this modern David vs. Goliath tale? One gold statue named Oscar.
Fox's film, which explores how natural gas drilling may not be as safe as we've all been led to believe, is nominated in the Best Documentary category. The director sets off on an odyssey to learn more about the industry after being asked to lease his land for drilling. What he uncovers is scary stuff –- including drinking water so full of natural gas that it can be set on fire right from the faucet.
Naturally, EiD and the industry they represent aren't thrilled by Fox's film. When an industry is creating flammable drinking water (allegedly), that's not the best thing from a P.R. standpoint. As such, they've set out to confront Fox and 'Gasland,' suggesting that the film doesn't deserve Oscar recognition since it's filled with false information.
Hit the jump for the latest salvo in this ideological war ...
EiD has sent a letter to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences stating that 'Gasland' should be ineligible for a Best Documentary nod since it's factually inaccurate. EiD's executive director, Lee Fuller, makes the case by stating, "The filmmaker alternates between misstating and outright ignoring basic and verifiable facts related to the impact of these activities on the health and welfare of humans, wildlife and the environment." Strong words, which they then follow up with a list of grievances listed by the time stamp of the film. Check out the letter, courtesy of The New York Times, here.
Undaunted, Fox is defending his film. He insists that the EiD is a "smear organization, a P.R. firm that has nothing to do with reality." Whether that's true or not seems open to debate, but the organization is an industry group formed to fight governmental regulation of natural gas drilling. Fuller, meanwhile, is also the vice president of the Independent Petroleum Association of America. He certainly has a vested interest in protecting the industry that puts food on his table.
In the biggest dig in Fuller's letter, he states that 'Gasland' has "value as an expression of stylized fiction." Ouch. Fox responds by saying that everything in his film is "backed up by facts, 100 percent," and has posted a lengthy rebuttal addressing every one of the EiD's issues point by point. Both letters are fascinating reads.
This isn't the first time a controversial documentary has raised issues at the Oscars. The anti–global warming contingent was very vocal in claiming that 'An Inconvenient Truth' wasn't worthy of a nomination (it won anyway); 'Hurricane' also sparked debate (and didn't win an award). What do you guys think? Is this a case of big industry trying to protect its interests and discredit a critic, or does 'Gasland' present a case that's too one-sided to be genuinely informative? Debate below.
[via The New York Times]