Gasland, Josh Fox's riveting personal documentary in which the filmmaker travels the country tracking the human cost of “fracking,” a controversial method of natural gas drilling (think inexplicable illnesses, regular-joe-raping corporate cover-ups, and tap water with so much gas in it that it becomes flammable, as in the clip below), was a massive hit at Sundance in January. Winning the Special Jury Prize for documentary and coming in at the top of indieWIRE's critic's poll as the best film in either competition at the festival, it was received about as well as it could have been–except that it didn't find a distributor. But if you're in LA, for one week only you can see Gasland anyway: the film opens today at the Laemmle Town Center in Encino, where it'll play two matinees per day through April 15.
You could blink and miss the ad for Gasland's opening in this week's Weekly, and unlike just about every other film playing for one week in LA, critics weren't invited to review the film. Why is this all so hush-hush?
Chances are, it has something to do with Oscars: the Academy's qualification rules for a Best Documentary nomination stipulate that a film has to play a one-week commercial run in Los Angeles in order to be eligible for consideration, and often films with or without distributors will get that qualification run out of the way quickly and quietly with this kind of soft open in a less-than-centrally-located cineplex. In this case, it's unclear at this point when Gasland will be back for a “real” theatrical run, so if you can sneak away during the day, it's worth trekking out to Encino to check out.
A sample of the WTF? consequences of fracking, from Gasland: