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Big-Screen Biodiesel Boost?

February 12, 2008

More than a decade ago, Joshua Tickell embarked on a nationwide tour with his ‘Veggie Van,’ fueling it with biodiesel for a total of about 25,000 miles of crisscrossing the country over a couple of years. How Tickell sourced his biodiesel was a story in itself and yielded much media attention; through a memorably DIY arrangement, he gathered free used fryer grease from fast-food franchises along the way and prepared biodiesel, a small batch at a time, with equipment he’d devised.

The idea of vegetable-oil-based fuels wasn’t completely new then to the types of Americans who had picked up a Whole Earth Catalog, or its ilk, back in the day, or to those in Europe, where a biodiesel revolution was already underway in the 1990s. But then fresh from college, Tickell brought an unrivalled enthusiasm to the subject, got people thinking about the political and environmental implications, and arguably played a tremendous role in kick starting the movement in the U.S.

Now, after writing a couple of books, starting an organization called Biodiesel America, and becoming an energy expert in his own right, Tickell is back with a big-time documentary called “Fields of Fuel,” which last month was the Official Selection at the Sundance Film Festival and won the Documentary Audience Award.

A trailer posted to the film's website leads with the words, “The story of a man…who wanted to change the world…one tank at a time,” hinting that Tickell’s personal journey is a spark for the film’s narrative. But the film looks to examine some weighty questions, reportedly treading lightly on national politics but lending some insight regarding our addiction to petroleum sourced largely from unstable parts of the world. The trailer previews interviews with energy experts, and as the name hints, we expect that it thoroughly looks into how we might displace some of our dependence with biodiesel from our own cropland. There's some star power as well, including appearances by Woody Harrelson and Julia Roberts.

Anyone there for the big Sundance showing? A release date for the film hasn’t yet been announced, but we’ll post a review as soon as we see it.

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