The Cinema Eye Honors for Nonfiction Filmmaking today announced that they will present the organization’s Hell Yeah Prize to Josh Fox for his two Gasland films, which have spurred a nationwide, grassroots movement that calls attention to the environmental risks of hydraulic fracking, an issue that was largely unheard of prior to the first Gasland film’s debut at the Sundance Film Festival in 2010 and the film’s premiere on HBO that summer.
The Hell Yeah Prize is a periodic award, given to filmmakers who have created works of incredible craft and artistry that also have significant, real-world impact. The inaugural Hell Yeah Prize was presented in 2012 to Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky for their Paradise Lost trilogy, which played a critical role in securing the release from prison of the wrongly prosecuted and convicted West Memphis Three.
The award will be presented on January 8, 2014 at the 7th Annual Cinema Eye Honors ceremony to be held, for the fourth year in a row, at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York.
The first Gasland film was a Cinema Eye Honor winner in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Graphic Design or Animation, an award shared by Juan Cardarelli, Eric M. Levy and Alex Tyson. Gasland Part II premiered at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival and aired this summer on HBO.
“We can’t think of a film or filmmaker who is better suited to receive this award,” said AJ Schnack, Founding Director of the Cinema Eye Honors. “Josh has created exceptional, artistically daring films that have the power to get attention and change minds. His work is largely responsible for spurring a national debate on the issue of hydraulic fracking.”
“Cinema Eye’s mission is to focus on outstanding artistry and craft in the field of documentary,” Honors Chair Esther Robinson said. “With the Hell Yeah Prize, we recognize those films and filmmakers that excel at the highest levels to create great art and, as a result, also affect profound and measurable change. Josh has excelled at both and we are very excited to award him our second ever Hell Yeah Prize.”
“”HELL YEAH! It’s a great honor to be recognized for both filmmaking and activism by the doc-hell-raisers at Cinema Eye,” filmmaker Josh Fox said. “Documentary reporting and grassroots action go hand in hand, when people have entrusted you as a filmmaker with their lives, their stories, it is a great responsibility to not only tell the tale but do everything in your power to organize a solution. Of course, this award really goes to the hundreds of thousands of activists, organizers and citizens fighting the fracking industry for clean air, water, public health and their right to democracy. When the fracking industry first came to my doorstep in 2008, I never felt more alone and isolated. Thanks to the international movement against fracking that has responded to this crisis with poise, intelligence, grace, non-violence and relentless determination, no one is alone in the fight for protecting their communities. Huge thanks to Cinema Eye, for their acknowledgement of this work.”
About Josh Fox, Filmmaker
Josh Fox is the Founder and Producing Artistic Director of the International WOW Company. Josh has written/directed/produced three feature films, several short films and over twenty-five full- length works for the stage which have premiered in New York, Asia and Europe. GASLAND, which Josh wrote, directed and shot, premiered at the Sundance film festival 2010, where it was awarded the 2010 Special Jury Prize for Documentary. The film was nominated for the Academy Award for best documentary, nominated for four Emmys including best documentary, best writing and best cinematography, and awarded the EMMY for best directing. GASLAND was nominated for best Documentary Screenplay by the WGA, and also awarded the Environmental Media Association Award for best documentary. As a result of Josh’s activism and campaigning on the issue of gas drilling Josh was awarded the 2010 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace by Yoko Ono.
About Gasland and Gasland, Part II
Ever since theater director-turned-filmmaker Josh Fox was approached five years ago with an unexpected offer of $100,000 for the natural gas drilling rights to his property in the Delaware River Basin, on the border of New York and Pennsylvania, he has been on a mission to investigate and expose the environmental risks of hydraulic fracturing. His first film, “Gasland,” debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Special Jury Prize, and made its HBO debut later that year. The film was subsequently shown in more than 30 countries to an estimated 50 million viewers. In addition to an Oscar® nomination for Best Documentary Feature, “Gasland” won an Emmy® for Best Nonfiction Directing and was nominated for three other Emmys®. As a result of his activism, Fox was awarded the 2010 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace by Yoko Ono.
GASLAND PART II begins with the 2012 State of the Union Address, in which President Obama declares his support for the safe development of natural gas production, something Fox and the anti-fracking community believe is impossible. Beneath the continental U.S., some contend, lies a vast underground ocean of natural gas waiting to be harvested, with the potential to supply energy to millions of Americans.
However, as Fox explained in “Gasland,” the drilling process, called hydraulic fracturing or fracking, is exempted by the Bush-Cheney Energy Policy Act of 2005 from the United States’ most basic environmental regulations, including the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Air Act, and poses many environmental threats to water and air.
In “Gasland,” Fox discovered tap water so contaminated it could be set on fire right out of the tap, chronically ill residents with similar symptoms in drilling areas across the country, and huge pools of toxic waste that kill livestock and vegetation. In GASLAND PART ll, he revisits families whose lives have been upended from living near fracking wells and introduces new characters. Fox interviews politicians who have been trying to stop fracking and help the people affected by it, as well as experts who support Fox’s concerns about the dangers of fracking and the urgent need for a shift to truly clean renewable energy.
Fox returns to Dimock, Pa., Pavilion, Wyo., and Dish, Tex. to see how the residents are faring in their fight to secure clean water from local governments and the E.P.A., and ventures to Australia to see what is happening outside the U.S. as fracking becomes a global practice. In order to understand the potential dangers of fracking, Fox interviews Tony Ingraffea, Professor of Engineering, Cornell University, a former researcher for the gas industry. Ingraffea, who was named one of Time magazine’s People Who Matter in 2011, explains why in his opinion, fracking can never be done safely. He illustrates how cement in wells can be vulnerable to cracking and that once it has cracked, methane gas can migrate into any underground source of drinking water.
In GASLAND PART ll, Fox also argues that new choices must be made about where the nation gets its energy. He talks to Stanford professor Mark Jacobson, who argues that the U.S. could stop drilling for coal, oil and natural gas altogether and bundle together the renewable resources of wind, high-concentrated solar power, geothermal power, hydroelectric power and tidal power to handle the country’s current energy needs. But Fox’s biggest concern in GASLAND PART ll is perhaps his belief that “the enormously powerful oil and gas industry has not only contaminated our water, air and land, but also our democracy.”
Towards the film’s conclusion, Fox is arrested trying to film a congressional hearing regarding the E.P.A. results in Pavilion. But as the fight to protect the earth from extreme energy development seems even more challenging, Fox remains determined and undeterred.
Gasland was written, directed and produced by Josh Fox; produced by Trish Adlesic; produced by Molly Gandour; editor, Matthew Sanchez. Gasland Part II is directed and produced by Josh Fox; produced by Trish Adlesic; produced by Deborah Wallace; co-producer, Matthew Sanchez; cinematography, Josh Fox and Matthew Sanchez; editor, Matthew Sanchez. For HBO Documentary Films: senior producer, Nancy Abraham; executive producer, Sheila Nevins.