SIFF SIFF 2008: Day 22 Non-Recommendation
posted by June 12 at 11:32 AMon
Annie made me watch a biofuel documentary called Fields of Fuel—AKA, according to my boyfriend, “that film with that annoying guy”—for SIFF. Let me reiterate here just how much I don’t recommend that you see it. My brief review:
A vanity project by biofuel proselytizer Josh Tickell that fetishizes alternative fuels such as ethanol and soy-based biodiesel while ignoring the many downsides of America’s car-oriented culture. Relying heavily on interviews with Tickell himself (plus cameos by celebrities such as Woody Harrelson and Willie Nelson), Fields of Fuel is little more than biodiesel propaganda. Tickell, wide-eyed, asserts repeatedly that biodiesel “could save the world.” But his case is flimsy, and his film—which features numerous long, loving shots of Tickell strolling below the Washington Monument, rolling into fast-food drive-through windows and demanding “all your used frying oil” to general confusion, and delivering supplies to Katrina victims on a biodiesel-powered boat—is more annoying than enlightening. (Tickell scheduled to attend.)
What I didn’t get to say in the capsule: Tickell is a professional public speaker—the type who has “a talk” that he delivers over and over again for money—and his film is basically just a long-form version of that (smarmily self-aggrandizing) speech. Tickell’s conclusion is basically that, wow, we don’t need oil and war is bad (a conclusion he reached, in part, by “discovering” biofuels during a stint slumming it as a farmer in Europe). Oddly, Fields of Fuel (which also completely ignores the food-vs.-fuel controversy) has garnered some pretty positive reviews at Sundance and elsewhere. Don’t listen to them. Avoid this one.