RIFF review: “FrackNation” (***)

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Carol Collier and Phelim McAleer appear in “FrackNation”
“FrackNation” is a feature documentary from directors Phelim McAleer, Ann McElhinney and Magdalena Segieda. Funded by donations through Kickstarter, the film is essentially a rebuttal to the 2010 juggernaut doc, “Gasland.” In that film, Pennsylvania resident Josh Fox, narrates his journey while focusing on how natural gas drilling and fracking are bad for the communities involved as well as the environment as whole. “Gasland,” being the powerful, informative work that it was, garnered a lot of attention, not only from audiences and activists alike, but also from the Academy.

Fracking, which is the process of extracting natural gas from shale deep under the earth’s surface, is a divisive issue largely thanks to Fox and his claims. “FrackNation,” narrated by McAleer, furthers the discussion by allowing for some more voices to be heard. However, this time we’re being told that fracking is perfectly safe. The film is refreshingly non-aggressive and is able to dig into some really interesting facts that were absent from “Gasland.” And while it does focus on that film and Josh Fox’s findings throughout, “FrackNation” is substantial enough to stand on its own.

The most interesting bits are those in which McAleer interviews local residents. Appearing to go door to door, we hear first account stories from folks who are sick of hearing their home referred to as a ‘toxic waste land’ and say they have seen no negative effects from the drilling.

At times, “FrackNation” feels slightly less legitimate than “Gasland,” however it does offer up enough counter points to stand head-to-head with it. Phelim McAleer and his team have made a solidly entertaining and continuously informative documentary that, at the very least, should inspire audiences to seek out further details of the issue on their own.

3 out of 5 stars.

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