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H2Oil (2009)

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Moving between a local microcosm and the global oil crisis, H2Oil weaves together a collection of compelling stories of people who are at the front lines of the biggest industrial project ... See full summary »



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Title: H2Oil (2009)

H2Oil (2009) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Credited cast:
Alan Adam ...
Cathy Gratz ...
Aaron Mathers ...
John O'Connor ...
Himself (as Dr. John O'Connor)
George Poitras ...
Kevin Timoney ...


Moving between a local microcosm and the global oil crisis, H2Oil weaves together a collection of compelling stories of people who are at the front lines of the biggest industrial project in human history: Canada's tar sands. H2Oil is a feature-length documentary that traces the wavering balance between the urgent need to protect and preserve fresh water resources and the mad clamoring to fill the global demand for oil. It is a film that asks: what is more important, water or oil? Will the quest for profit overshadow efforts to protect public health and the environment in Canada's richest province? Written by Loaded Pictures

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In Canada's richest province, the war for water has already begun.





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8 May 2009 (Canada)  »

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1.33 : 1
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Potentially a good message, lost in a biased presentation
4 February 2011 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

While this 2009 documentary earns high marks for superb editing, catchy title, likable people and great narration, it ultimately fails overall because of a basic fatal flaw suffered by the majority of this sub-genre of environmentalist vs. capitalist exposure docudrama. By presenting only one side of the story, and through editing ensuring that any comments, facts or rebuttal from the other side only reinforce the negative message about their alleged "dastardly deeds" the producers are completely underestimating the intelligence of the audience. The thinking person is left wondering, "What is the other side of the story, and why was it not represented?" If the claims made in the documentary can be supported and hold up to scrutiny and rebuttal it makes the original message stronger. Conversely, if the scrutiny and rebuttal is not presented the original message is weakened.

The film, starring Alan Adam, Cathy Gratz and Aaron Mathers among others, is centered on the Athabasca area surrounding the Alberta Oil sands, and the effects on the environment, particularly relating to water, of the bitumen mining and upgrading operations in the area. To personalize the issues, the majority of the film focuses on the residents of Fort Chipewyan, a community downstream of the oil sands on the Athabasca river and the proprietors of a family run Spring Water business. Director Shannon Walsh does present some compelling facts and figures throughout the film, including statistics indicating abnormally high incidents of cancer among the residents of Fort Chipewyan but the message is lost in the rhetoric claiming non responsiveness from government and industry. The other side of the story, that in fact there is tremendous effort, in terms of financial and human capital by both government and industry to continually improve environmental impact of the oil sands operations and there have been significant improvements over the last decade, is not mentioned. Is governmental and industry doing enough? Unfortunately, this important question is never posed by this film; instead the implication is nothing is being done. The fatal flaw - as this implication is not true, what might be compelling arguments at the center of this films message, are lost.

My advice for future filmmakers of this genre – A balanced presentation of the issues will allow the audience to decide for themselves the truth and what the call for action should be. Isn't that the goal?

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