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New Doc Examines America’s Dependence on Oil

The Veggie Van in

Credit: Greenlight Theatrical

Above: The Veggie Van in "Fuel"

I would call “Fuel” (opened October 16 at Landmark’s Ken Cinema) an activist documentary because not only does it try to document America’s dependence on oil but it also suggests ways that we can change our behavior and challenge the status quo.

Most people realize that oil is not a renewable energy source and that America has become very dependent on oil and on foreign oil. The film “Fuel” suggests that what we have is “an addiction to oil that taxes the environment, entangles us in costly foreign policies, and threatens the nation's long-term stability.” So for much of the film, Josh Tickell, a young activist, lays out what he sees are the problems and causes of this addiction to oil. Then – and this is where the documentary distinguishes itself – it also suggests solutions and action. Unlike a documentary like “The Eleventh Hour,” where a mere few minutes as the end were devoted to what can be done, “Fuel” spends a good chunk of time suggesting small actions individuals can take to visionary plans for a very different future.

In some ways, “Fuel” bites off more than it can chew as it tries unravel the history of oil in America and journey back through history to understand how politics and big business have played a role in creating our dependence on oil. There’s a lot to cover and Tickell keeps information flying at us at a fast and furious pace without always going into depth or soliciting contrary opinions. But Tickell does build his case through sheer persistence and accumulation of information. His passion and personal activism also prove compelling and he ends his film with plenty of information and websites so that viewers have no excuse for sitting on their butts and doing nothing.

Fuel” (unrated) is a passionate, personal, and energized documentary that goes beyond just examining a problem, it suggest solutions as well.

Companion viewing: “Crude,” “Giant,” “Flow”

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