Plow to Plate Film Series Presents: Groundswell

A new documentary follows the growing movement to end hydrofracking.

The 2010 documentary Gasland was the opening cinematic salvo against hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method of extracting natural gas deposits from underground rock formations, at a time when few of us knew anything about hyrdrofracking or fracking.

It’s now 2012, Joshua Fox is busy working on his anti-fracking sequel, Gasland 2, and others film makers have joined the fray. October’s Plow to Plate event will feature several clips from a work in progress. Groundswell: Protecting Our Children’s Air and Water – a documentary unfolding, will be hosted by Associate Producer Dave Walczak and feature a Q & A via Skype with the producer/director Renard Cohen.

Gasland was a highly personal and somewhat quixotic exposé. It educated the public about a clear and imminent danger and had great shock value: if nothing else, people will remember the scene where a man held a lighter up to his running faucet and lit his tap water on fire. 

Groundswell educates as well, but since much of the ground has already been laid, the film is free to focus more prominently on the growing anti-fracking movement, as well as issues that were not dealt with in depth by Fox’s groundbreaking film, for example the heavy traffic associated with this method of extraction – or fraffic.

Pine Creek Valley, Pennsylvania has a bucolic appearance and a peaceful name, but now it’s anything but. Tri-axles, 18 wheelers, and pickup trucks form convoys in both directions down the narrow country roads passing at the rate of 1 per minute – 50 to 60 per hour. Every 24 hours, seven days a week, 750-1,500 large, heavy vehicles snake to and fro from the gas sites hauling supplies and equipment and removing waste. 

As bad as this seems, it is only the beginning of the gridlock nightmare. There are fewer than 50 wells in the area with 1,000 more planned. Sitting in traffic, David Kagan laments, “I wanted to live here, but, I wanted to grow old here …”

Kagan is choking back tears of frustration and anger and Groundswell, as its name implies, chronicles both ordinary folk and celebrities as they channel this emotion into concrete action. Actor and activist Mark Ruffalo, musician John Sebastian, and now noted film maker, Joshua Fox, all speak out at public hearings. 

And a rag tag team of citizens wearing black tee-shirts and carrying black umbrellas with anti-fracking messages tails Governor Cuomo for a full 45 minutes at the New York State Fair in Syracuse singing “Stop, in the name of love, before you frack NY,” and “I love New York, don’t frack New York” (to the tune of the old ad jingle) and chanting “No fracking way” and “Hey hey, Cuomo, hydrofracking’s gotta go.”

It’s a funny segment, and if nothing else, the word fracking lends itself well to anti-industry messaging.  The uncomfortable governor must endure this all with a public smile and no comment. 

In New York State, the moratorium on fracking is about to end.  But this issue is far from settled. Come out and meet these film makers and become part of the groundswell.


Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Park Slope Food Coop – 2nd Floor

7:00 p.m.  Refreshments will be served.

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