Smoke on the water. Winner of the Sundance Audience Choice Award and now being considered for an Academy Award nomination, Fuel is an amazing resource for those wishing to know more about the hottest issue of our time, energy independence. Not as sensational as a Michael Moore production (there is no equivalent to standing on a boat outside of Guantánamo Bay with a bullhorn demanding healthcare), it is far more practical and the main themes are knowledge and action.
Fuel is a comprehensive look at energy in America. A history of where we have been, our present predicament and a solution to our dependence on foreign oil, given an effort by the American people and our government. The film flows seamlessly through scientific data, facts, history and personal narrative and is never dull or overwhelming. Quite the opposite in fact, there is intrigue, conspiracy, murder, and greed, which is made all the more infuriating because this is not fiction.
With a Ron Howard-esque quality, Director Josh Tickell narrates, beginning with his childhood in Louisiana, the number one oil producing state. He speaks of family illnesses and his mother's nine miscarriages, and asks how do you calculate that into the cost of oil? He speaks of the environmental devastation of Hurricane Katrina, with an oil spill equal to that of Exxon Valdez, but never covered by any of the mainstream media. He is earnest and engaging, truly committed and passionate about biodiesel and making a difference without being overzealous or preachy.
The film is not exclusive to Josh Tickell's point of view, but is infused with appearances by celebrities and experts, most poignantly Robert Kennedy, Jr. in one of his only public appearances since being diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. He points out that today in America we have put oil in front of the Bill of Rights. Also appearing in Fuel, are Willie Nelson and Neil Young who give concerts at truck stops to encourage the use of biodiesel.
The film has a sense of urgency. The consequences of our oil addiction will lead to the coming crisis of our lifetime and can no longer be ignored. The filmmaker hammers home the importance of demanding alternative fuel from our leaders. The world is running out of oil, and as singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow states in the film, "We won't really know what war is until the oil is gone."
The greatest thing about this film is that it offers hope, a vision of a future without oil wars and environmental disasters that is powered by renewable energy.
The message here is that if we change our fuel, we can change our world, and it's one worth heeding.
Regal Pilot Butte 6. Fri. and Sat.: 11am, 1pm, 4, 7, 10. Q&A with director Josh Tickell. Saturday night.