January 28, 2008
For Immediate Release
(Washington, D.C.) This past weekend “Fields of Fuel,” a documentary of which the American Humanist Association is a partner and fiscal sponsor, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival. The award was presented to the film’s director, Josh Tickell, a humanist, at the Saturday night, January 26, awards ceremony, hosted by actor William H. Macy.
But to those involved with the film, the award came as no surprise. For when the film had had its public premiere on Monday, January 21, it received a standing ovation that lasted the full length of the credits–a unique phenomenon enjoyed by no other documentary at the festival. Prior to that, “Fields of Fuel” had been selected by the Sundance Institute to launch the Sundance Film Festival at Robert Redford’s Preserve on Wednesday, January 16. Later, at the public part of the festival in Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah, the film was screened seven more times during the week of its premiere, two of those exclusively for high school students. Members of Humanists of Utah, an AHA chapter, attended the Friday evening, January 25, screening.
Josh Tickell is the man who drove across the United States in a Winnebago fueled solely by used cooking oil from fast food restaurants. His appearances on national and local television made him an overnight celebrity. But “Fields of Fuel” is a 90-minute documentary that carries his work further, chronicling one man’s search for an alternative to America’s dependence on foreign oil. Filmed over the past 12 years in 5 countries by a team of scientists and filmmakers led by Tickell, who is an alternative energy activist, the documentary explores fossil fuel production and its impact.
But it is more than a critique of big oil. It also provides innovative, ethical and practical solutions. Tickell shows that it isn’t necessary to tap into the food supply in order to provide the biodiesel fuel that can help give energy independence to the United States. And though he offers biodiesel as a main ingredient of that energy independence, the film is clear that biodiesel alone is no silver bullet. It will take a matrix of alternative energy resources to complete the job. Therefore, in the end, what the film does best is encourage optimism by empowering individuals to change their own energy use as well as the energy use of their communities and nation.
According to the official Sundance Film Festival press release at www.sundance.org/festival/press_industry/releases/2008-01-26-Awards.asp, the film can be described thus: “A look at America ‘s addiction to oil, Tickell is a man with a plan and a Veggie Van, who is taking on big oil, big government, and big soy to find solutions in places few people have looked.”
“The American Humanist Association is proud to be a part this award-winning documentary,” said Fred Edwords, the AHA’s director of communications, who spent days at the festival with Tickell and his team to help promote the film. “The AHA’s support is one way we have acted on the humanist environmental principles expressed in Humanism and Its Aspirations: Humanist Manifesto III.” (This document can be found online at www.americanhumanist.org/3/HumandItsAspirations.php.)
“But there’s more,” added AHA President Mel Lipman. “The trip to Sundance, led by humanist and AHA member Michael McOmber, officially launched the Fields of Fuel National Edutainment Action Tour (NEAT). This tour is now slated to bring the film to over 50 cities nationwide. So we are mobilizing our more than 100 chapters and local affiliates across the country to become environmentally activist when the film hits theaters nationwide and when the tour comes to them.”
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The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.