“Oil has become the one substance on which our very existence depends,” says Josh Tickell, director of the documentary Freedom. In this film, Tickell and his wife, Rebecca Harrell Tickell, take the audience on a journey where they discover the true cost of America’s oil dependency, and the freeing possibilities of oil alternatives.
The film was produced on the coattails of Fuel, the couple’s first documentary. Fuel won the audience award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Freedom has a similar premise, but it focuses more on oil alternatives.
The film opens by taking us back to the 2010 explosion of the BP oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. The Deepwater Horizon spilled millions of barrels of oil over the course of months, which was then washed up on the coastlines of Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, and Alabama. The spill devastated not only marine life and vegetation, but residents’ health. Many locals became sick after coming in contact with the contaminated water.
Gobs of oily gunk smothered the life and livelihood of not just the Gulf, but the entire country. Deepwater Horizon was not the first spill in recent U.S. history, and most people believe more spills are inevitable. Yet our reliance on oil has not wavered.
“Have we ingrained into our social consciousness that this would happen and that it’s okay?” asks Freedom.
Tickell, who also narrates the film, reflects on his own upbringing along the Gulf Coast. He was living in the shadows of an oil refinery where everyone depended on the oil company, and saw firsthand the devastation it wreaked on the community.
Freedom illustrates the promise of fuel alternatives such as biodiesel and ethanol. The latter was used by Henry Ford on the original Model T until all alcohol, including alcohol not used for consumption, was outlawed by Prohibition. The couple also tests popular myths about fuel alternatives as they journey across North and South America.
The film compares the movement to end oil consumption to movements such as women’s suffrage and civil rights by saying, “Look [at] what these people were able to accomplish when everyone stood against them.”
One point Freedom drives home is that we need to understand the products we use so we can stand up for what is best for the earth and our community, something Sierra Club Green Home believes in strongly. Freedom begs the audience to think critically about the choices they are making, collectively and individually, about how they power their homes and vehicles.
Freedom is available on DVD for $19.95.