Coming to VOD today, Tuesday, January 13: PUMP
Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell’s call for an end to the gasoline monopoly was released theatrically this past September. It largely bypassed the film festival circuit, but did appear at Zurich as a special screening. The doc now comes to iTunes.
The Tickells’ previous work, including the Cannes-debuting THE BIG FIX and Sundance audience award-winner FUEL, has tackled the Deepwater Horizon accident and alternative energy, respectively. Their newest documentary is once again focused on the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, but takes a different, more practical, tack. As signaled by its title, the film proffers that the solution to our oil problem boils down to consumer choice: Give car owners options beyond gasoline at the point of sale, and market forces will lead to energy diversification and independence. Before the Tickells run through what those options might be, they provide an overview of how we’ve got to the point we’re at now, a necessary part of their argument, but tends toward a dry survey which covers fairly familiar ground – from John D Rockefeller’s Standard Oil monopoly and backing of Prohibition to eliminate alcohol-based fuel options, to the cycles of oil crisis, recession, and war that have wreaked havoc on our economy for decades. Much more effective, and sometimes surprising, is the film’s second half, which shifts away from this sobering, frustrating history to instead present a hopeful, sensible corrective which, importantly, is also empowering on a personal level. Recognizing that promising solutions like the electric car will require decades to make a true impact – after all, how quickly do most people purchase new cars? – the more obvious answer is to work with consumers’ pre-existing vehicles. Little promoted “flex fuel” cars are already on the road, with most of their owners not even knowing their vehicles can use cheaper, environmentally safer, and job-generating ethanol, or a combination of gas and ethanol, and, even more startling, virtually all cars can be converted to accept alternative fuels by simply adjusting their software. While obstacles stand in the way – government regulation and oil company control, primarily – the Tickells’ advocacy film holds forth the promise of making change through consumer empowerment enabled by awareness and education.