Gasland Part II is the Josh Fox sequel to his Academy Award nominated documentary Gasland, which made the word fracking (hydraulic fracturing) as ubiquitous as water and won him an Emmy. Ahead of the debut, HBO held a reception and screening for guests and select press on June 25th in NYC. Aidan Quinn, Debra Winger, Arliss Howard, Steve Jordan, Former Congressman Maurice Hinchey and family, were a few of the guests and advocates who came to celebrate Fox’s work and efforts to spur on the democratic process about fracking issues.
Many in attendance had already seen the film or helped the director work on the film. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to generally positive reviews, and since then Fox and supporters have been taking it on a grassroots tour for special screenings that began in Normal, Illinois.
Why there? Fox determined it would be a good place to begin due to the Illinois legislature’s strong support of fracking and the Gas and Oil Industry.
In a conversation with Fox at the reception, I suggested that the protest in Illinois was not successful. Fox disagreed. Fox told me that he had asked the legislators if they had ever visited a fracking site. He said none of them had. He made it a point to tell me that after the hearing, protestors stood up en mass and chanted, “Shame, shame!” at the legislators. Fox added that the grassroots support there was actually growing as a result of the politician’s actions to allow fracking.
Fox shared with those at the reception that the best way to start if interested in becoming a documentarian is with YouTube. Apparently, this was Fox’s initial intention when he began the project more than years ago — just to share it on Youtube. I asked him if he ever expected his work to take off and be as widely recognized as it is. He shook his head, smiled and said, “Well, you know, you hope.”
I also had the opportunity to speak with cast members John Fenton and Victoria Switzer. John is the Founder of Artist Against Fracking from Pavillion, Wyoming. I asked him how he met Fox. Fenton said that Josh introduced himself and eventually asked if he could stay with John Fenton while in Wyoming. During the course of the first film they became friends. Our discussion led to the idea of speaking out. Fenton emphasized how important it is for him to use his voice to take a stand. Victoria Switzer, praised New Yorkers’ advocacy to me and spoke about New York’s need to use wisdom.
Fox, in keeping with a promise made to himself, played his banjo as the credits rolled at the end of the screening. He will continue to take the film on the road with Q and As and talk backs. With supporters and reception guests, he is looking forward to its debut on HBO with anticipation and excitement.
Gasland Part II debuts on HBO Monday, July 8, 2013 (9-11:15 pm ET/PT)