Let the ‘fracking’ battle begin: two films about shale gas are being released in the New Year – one pro-fracking, the other against.
One has been touted for Oscar glory and features Hollywood actor Matt Damon, star of The Bourne Identity trilogy, with Cannes Best Director award winner Gus Van Sant at the helm.
The other is a made-for-telly documentary following Irish journalist Phelim McAleer, which got $210,000 of funding from 3,000-odd people on crowd-sourcing site Kickstarter.
In a country which has been the envy of gas-producing nations all over the world with its shale gas boom, the two flicks are about to go head for head – if not in the box office, then in the hearts and minds of the American public.
In anti-fracking film Promised Land, Matt Damon (pictured in the role) plays a gas firm salesman who buys up the drilling rights to plots of land from small-town Americans. The Focus Features film is set to open the upcoming Berlin film festival. It highlights the environmental risks of fracking and is said to cast the shale gas industry in a profit-driven light.
FrackNation, a film which claims to “tell the truth” about fracking, takes it premiere on US television network AXS TV. Phelim McAleer, co-director and owner of Hard Boiled Films which made the film, met with “bogus lawsuits, slammed doors and gun threats” on his journey, according to press materials.
Mr McAleer said: “FrackNation has been described as the first ‘pro-fracking film.’ I would describe it as pro-journalism and pro-truth. It asks hard questions of the environmental movement and its campaigns. And they seem to not like difficult questions.”
The films are sure to provoke even fiercer debate in the States, which has seen anti-shale gas groups sprout up such as the Yoko Ono-led Artists Against Fracking.