Fuel film now playing in U.S. theaters

By Ron Kotrba | February 10, 2009
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Web exclusive posted Feb. 23, 2009, at 4:02 p.m. CST

After years in the making, Josh Tickell's documentary "Fuel" is on the big screen in select locations in southern California and Washington state, with debuts to follow in other states.

The feature-length documentary, which had the working title "Fields of Fuel," focuses on biodiesel and the desperate need for America to become more energy independent. It is now playing in Yakima, Wash.; Los Angeles; and Santa Monica, Calif.

On Feb. 20, "Fuel" opened in Irvine, Calif.; and Beverly Hills, Calif. On Feb. 21 it began playing in Bainbridge Island, Wash.. On Feb. 27 it will begin playing at a theater in Kihei, Hawaii; on March 13 in New York; and March 20 in Bellingham, Wash.

The film, with a running time of 111 minutes, was produced over an 11-year time span. In 2008, it won the Sundance Film Festival's Audience Award for Best Documentary, in addition to several other awards.

During an appearance on the "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on Feb. 16, Tickell told Leno the impetus for the film came as a kid, growing up in Louisiana around oil refineries, watching people get sick. He said his own mother had nine miscarriages thought to be due to the pollution caused by the oil refinery that they lived next to.

In 1997, Tickell bought a diesel Winnebago, painted it with spray paint. Tickell told Leno the van looked like a Grateful Dead Mobile. He then collected waste vegetable oil from Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silver restaurants.

Leno said to Tickell, "So I'm watching your movie and I say to myself, okay this is about biofuels, and biofuel really doesn't work anymore because then you're taking food off of people's plates to make gasoline, and that seems equally bad." Tickell responded: "So here I was driving around in this veggie van for 10 years, and I thought, oh no, we're potentially starving people. Not all biofuels are created equal," he added, then told Leno about sustainable crops for biofuel use, such as algae grown in the desert, and sewage. "In the U.S. we produce a trillion gallons of sewage a year," Tickell told Leno.

Tickell also discussed with Leno vertical crops, skyscrapers in which crops are grown on each floor, and how enough food could be grown in one of these urban "farms" to feed 50,000 people all within a carbon footprint the size of one city block.

For more information on the film, "Fuel," visit http://thefuelfilm.com/.
To read a review of the film, visit C. Scott Miller's BIOConversion Blog, "'Fuel' is a Galvanizing Vehicle."
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