April 1, 2011

There's Scary Shit Going Down In America: GasLand and Meeting Mark Ruffalo

Despite all of Bard's shortcomings (and there are many) they are not totally against shelling out to get someone influential and famous to come talk to us on whatever the issue of the week is. I'm not talking about some chemist that only people who follow chemistry would know; I'm talking about someone that the general public is well aware of. Just last night, Bard's Environmental Program hosted a screening of Josh Fox's GasLand, one of the five Oscar nominees for Best Documentary. In attendance were two people who make a living studying the effects of fracking. The other was Mark Ruffalo. Yeah, that Mark Ruffalo, the one from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Zodiac, and The Kids Are All Right. He's big on the whole environment thing, and has joined the tour of the film in hopes of raising awareness of natural gas drilling in the United States. Needless to say, I was there. I took an interest in Fox's film from the beginning. I actually know the man, thanks to a summer spent at NYU, and had heard about the project as it was just getting started. Also, the film nut in me couldn't pass up a chance to meet Mark Ruffalo. How would I be able to face my fellow LAMBs if I turned down an opportunity like that. The event pretty much boiled down like this.

The event took place in Olin Hall, which is this sizable auditorium which is probably the closest thing Bard has to a lecture hall. I was already jaded going in, since I was coming from a rehearsal of a pretty heavy play (No Exit, if you care to know), but, I soldiered on as you would have wanted me to.

The film took up a good amount of the evening. My full length review will come sometime this weekend, but, in a nutshell, GasLand is a pointed and quirky look at the world of Gas Drilling, and the effects it is having on the American citizen. At times horrifying, at times hilarious, Fox expertly weaves together the various stories of all the beleaguered farmers and and backwater dwellers, who's drinking water has been contaminated by the chemicals used in the fracking process. It's a good film, and one fully deserving of all the recognition it's getting.

Flammable Water: WTF!!!????

After that, the panel opened up. The speakers were Wes Gillingham, a Catskill Mountainkeeper, a Bard Masters student who's thesis is on the gas drilling in Pennsylvania (his name escapes me), and Mark Ruffalo, who, you will be pleased to know is not a terrorist...

Don't look at me. The joke went way over my head as well.

Anyway, they got to talking about the steps being made to ban fracking, the political climate around the issue, and what we, the uncorrupted, impressionable youth of America can accomplish. I would say that everyone in attendance was really focused and passionate about the subject, but who am I kidding. Bard students, being the star struck, little shits that they are, really only cared about meeting Ruffalo. It's a shame though, because all three men were well spoken and educated about the topic, and obviously felt very strongly about it. The put on a good show. A lot of the people in the audience who got the microphone, didn't actually ask a question, but instead rambled on about how a difference can be made, or something like that, and the men on stage handled these absurdities like champs. Hey, I learned a lot, and my knowledge and appreciation of what was shown in the film was only strengthened.

Loquacious Types

Afterwards, I charged into the fray in order to meet Ruffalo. He was a very pleasant, graciously posing for pictures and answering questions. I inquired as to Hollywood's involvement with the whole fracking thing. He basically said that his fellow actors are not really getting involved because they are "scared". That's stardom for ya, I guess. My quesitons answered, I offered up my support as a film nut, praising his work in Zodiac, and was on my merry way. Three hours, well spent.

Oh, but best part!!!

I am sooooo connected!!

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