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July 10, 2014
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‘FrackNation’ screening in Honesdale

The documentary “FrackNation” is featured at a free screening in Honesdale, PA on April 6.
Contributed photo


The gas drilling debate continues as the documentary “FrackNation” will be screened at Cinema 6, 1199 Texas Palmyra Highway, in Honesdale. The free screenings will be on April 6 at 11:30 a.m., April 7 at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. Director Phelim McAleer will be at all the shows for a question-and-answer session following the screening.

Free tickets can be picked up at Trackside Restaurant in Honesdale; Cochecton Mills in Cochecton, NY; Dirlam Brothers Lumber, in Honesdale; Shelly’s Restaurant, in Hamlin; and Cinema 6 in Honesdale.

“FrackNation,” a pro-gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing documentary, was directed by McAleer, Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda, and was created as a response to the anti-gas drilling documentary “Gasland,” directed by Josh Fox.

It is an easy matter to find reviews praising and condemning both movies, and here are a few excerpts addressing “FrackNation.” From John Anderson writing in Variety in January: “Those nursing the suspicion that Hollywood politics are awash in knee-jerk liberalism may well have their cynicism validated by ‘FrackNation,’ a counterargument to the outcry over the natural-gas retrieval process known as ‘fracking’ recently explored in Gus Van Sant’s feature ‘Promised Land.’ But the more thoughtful and politics-oriented audience targeted by this well-reasoned film…will find plenty to chew over, including the possibility that perhaps all is not as simple as it seems in the world of nonrenewable energy.

“Josh Fox is clearly depicted as the villain in ‘FrackNation,’ from a ‘Gasland’ post-screening Q&A where Fox refuses to answer McAleer’s simple questions, to a scene at Los Angeles’ Hammer Museum where Fox literally flees the camera.”

From Mark Olsen writing in the Los Angeles Times in January: “McAleer and McElhinney have previously directed two other documentaries attacking environmentalists, and by the time a talking head declares ‘shale gas is a gift from God’ and another describes the process as ‘the miracle of the early 21st century,’ it is fairly clear where ‘FrackNation’ is coming from.

“Despite its relatively brief running time and specific aim, ‘FrackNation’ is rather unfocused, hopping within moments from grilling a Delaware River Basin commissioner over ‘Gasland’ to speaking to an elderly pensioner in Poland about her energy bill. Moments of McAleer and his team being kicked out of an event or not allowed on someone’s property are theatrical but irrelevant.”

From Frank Scheck writing in the Hollywood Reporter in January: “McAleer makes the claim that the vast majority affected are actually in favor of fracking, including numerous testimonials from heartland figures who make such claims that it would ‘maintain the natural beauty of the area.…’

“Whatever the truth of these claims, the film undercuts its convincingness with its hyperbolic approach. Indeed, the climactic montage—detailing the importance of energy to everything ranging from tap water to kidney transplants—makes ‘Reefer Madness’ seem subtle.”

From Mark P. Mills writing in the National Review Online in January: “McAleer’s gentle manner and Irish brogue are well-suited to this often emotionally charged issue. Still, at one point, McAleer is threatened with potential violence by a woman who has claimed her well water was contaminated by fracking but refuses to share with McAleer the Environmental Protection Agency test that showed otherwise…

“The issue for McAleer is not just the unreasonable alarmism on display, but its effect on the people who are denied the game-changing economic benefits whereverfracking is blocked.

“Of course there are local environmental considerations with oil and gas that warrant caution, as with many industries. But the issues—from road wear-and-tear, to noise and surface management of fuel and waste —are not unique to fracking.”