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Review: Oil on Ice

Oil on Ice
2004, 58 minutes
Co-produced and directed by Dale Djerassi and
Bo Boudart
Distributor: Bullfrog Films PO Box 149, Oley, PA 19547

Oil on Ice is an award-winning documentary about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and the controversy over drilling for oil within the protected area. The film takes the viewer on a captivating journey through a land enriched by Native Alaskan culture and threatened by the bulldozers and pipelines of the oil industry. It features the voices of Inupiat Eskimos and Gwich'in natives as they describe their culture and heritage and express how oil drilling would put their livelihoods at risk. Members of the Gwich'in nation tell of their total dependence on caribou for food, clothing, tools, and spirituality. Their stories relate how drilling for oil would force caribou and other wildlife away from the reserve, changing the way the Gwich'in have lived for centuries. Biologists and environmental experts also weigh in on the potential of renewable energy sources and of hybrid vehicles to become viable solutions to the United States' dependence on oil.

Dangers of the oil industry are highlighted through archival footage of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, excerpts from an Exxon corporate video, and the filmmaker's footage of the effects of the disastrous oil spill, still evident 15 years later. Oil on Ice demonstrates how promises of safety and responsibility made by politicians and oil companies can never totally protect the land from human errors and natural forces.

The film raises such key questions as: What will happen if there is another oil spill on Alaska's coastal plain? How can the US government and oil companies compromise one of the last pristine wildernesses and wildlife refuges for an outmoded energy policy? How can the US government justify its continued threats to the livelihood and survival of indigenous peoples?
Oil on Ice was selected for the prestigious Pare Lorentz Award in 2004 by the International Documentary Association for the film's "democratic sensibility, activist spirit, and lyrical vision." It was also awarded Best Feature Documentary and Best Musical Score at the Moondance Film Festival (2005), Best Film at the Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Festival (2005), and Best Conservation and Environment Film at the International Wildlife Film Festival (2005).

Oil on Ice is an informative and moving documentary that examines the consequences of oil drilling in the ANWR, as well as alternative solutions to the United States' energy needs. The filmmakers excel at educating the audience about the issues at hand, as well as spotlighting the natural beauty of one of the most remote places in Northern America.

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