The truth has changed

Gasland director Josh Fox is staging a frontline resistance

The Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning writer-director and fracker-botherer has a few things to say about misinformation and propaganda – if you can handle the truth

The rules have changed.
The water has changed.
The climate has changed.
The truth has changed.
We must change.

Josh Fox is an Oscar-nominated, Emmy-winning writer-director best known for Gasland, a 2010 documentary exposing the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. In the years since, Josh has become internationally recognised as a spokesperson and leader on the issue of clean energy.

In 2008, Josh Fox’s family was offered the sum of $100,000 to allow a natural gas company to use their land in northern Pennsylvania for fracking operations. This alarmed the filmmaker and journalist, who suspected the process posed hidden dangers to both human health and the environment. Camera in hand, he spent the next two years following the gas drilling boom across the United States and uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination.

Josh Fox - WDCD Live Amsterdam 2022 - The Truth Has Changed (1)

“I discovered an environmental catastrophe like nothing I’d ever seen before,” he said in an interview with Grist. “The whole country was getting fracked, and everywhere I went, water was ruined, the air was poisoned, and the land had been scarred, ripped apart, and toxified.”

The material he collected became the 2010 documentary Gasland, a gripping exposé which would be hailed as one of the most effective and expressive environmental films of recent years. The film was watched by millions of people around the world, and earned a Special Jury Prize at Sundance as well as an Oscar nomination. It also catapulted Josh into the spotlight, and made him the subject of a vicious smear campaign at the hands of big oil and gas.

Posters for Gasland (2010) and How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change (2016)

Fortunately for the rest of us, Josh has yet to back down or crack under pressure. In the years since, he has become internationally recognised as a leader on the issue of clean energy, working with fellow environmental activists like Bernie Sanders, Nina Turner and Bill McKibben to pass historic bills that would help phase out the use of fossil fuels.

He has also continued to produce a number of ambitious, inventive, and socially-conscious films, often through International WOW, the production company he founded alongside a diverse group of artists from the United States and Asia.

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In 2017, he was awarded his third Environmental Media Association award for Best Documentary for the deeply personal How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change. Travelling to twelve countries on six continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can’t destroy?

With Indigenous filmmakers Doug Good Feather and Myron Dewey, he also produced, co-directed and co-wrote the critically acclaimed feature, Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock, which tells the dramatic story of the historic native-led peaceful resistance at the Sioux Reservation in North Dakota.

Poster for Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock (2017)

It was during the Trump presidency in 2018, that Josh embarked on his latest project, The Truth Has Changed. Initially conceived as a one-man play, the piece powerfully traces Josh’s personal experience grappling with the misinformation and propaganda which manipulate our current media and political ecosystem. At once poignant, critical and intimate, the performance now lives on in the form of a book as well as a serialised film, the first few episodes of which can be viewed online.

For Josh, the true power of cinema lies in its ability not just to educate, but to energise the masses. “The cure for climate depression,” he likes to say, “is the climate movement.” This is why the stories he tells – whether performed on stage, through the strum of a banjo, or via the silver screen – are all designed to remind you that there are “open arms and open hearts waiting for you to join them in the streets.”

The cure for climate depression is the climate movement.

What’s so good about this?

This is what a true film activist looks like. As a result of Josh’s activism and campaigning on the issue of gas drilling Josh was awarded the 2010 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace by Yoko Ono. Due to his extensive work in environmental activism, he was later appointed to the Democratic Platform committee in 2016 by Bernie Sanders. The work of the committee led to the passing of historic amendments that will phase out fossil fuels and set goals towards 100% renewable energy development. This work is ongoing.

Meet the writer

Bali-based Natasha Berting graduated in Graphic Design at the Willem de Kooning Academy in 2015 and is now the online editor of What Design Can Do.

This article was originally published by our friends at What Design Can Do, an international platform about the social impact of design.

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