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Thursday, June 12, 2008

SIFF 2008: Day 22 Non-Recommendation

posted by on June 12 at 11:32 AM

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.

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Soy-based biofuel is almost as stupid as corn-based, but not all biofuels are equally bad. Sugarcane ethanol pencils out quite well, and algae is extremely promising for diesel. The fry-oil thing is just sad.

Posted by Fnarf | June 12, 2008 11:47 AM

Wait... ECB has a boyfriend? (Poor bastard.) What did he do to incur such vengeful wrath from his God?

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | June 12, 2008 12:07 PM

At least she didn't make you watch a movie about couscous for 3 and a half hours ... the first 1.5 hours was ok, but ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 12, 2008 12:25 PM

Will, The Secret of the Grain is 2 hours and 31 minutes. And nobody made you watch it.

Posted by annie | June 12, 2008 1:07 PM

If it turns out that you do have some sort of magical power over Will to make him do things he doesn't want to do, Annie, I have some other suggestions.

Posted by Fnarf | June 12, 2008 2:17 PM

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