Groundswell review: A rousing anti-racking documentary
James R | On 21, Apr 2021
Director: Johnny Grogan
Cast: Mark Ruffalo
Watch Groundswell online in the UK: Modern Films
Released the week before Earth Day in 2021, Groundswell is a documentary that reminds us how threats to the environment can come in many forms. Fracking – the use of hydraulics to fracture shale rock and release natural gases – is a word that was added to the Oxford English Dictionary back in 2011, when the controversial practice had high profile. Since then, it’s disappeared beneath the surface, but remains a dangerous method to perpetuate the production of fossil fuels, with the potential to poison water and threaten wildlife. Johnny Gogan’s documentary drills into the fracking industry’s plans in Ireland – and the public fight back against them.
The film comes not long after 2019’s Dark Waters, starring Mark Ruffalo, a drama about the real life legal fight to prove that a chemical company had contaminated a community’s water supply in America. Ruffalo was clearly touched by those events because he appears in this film too, supporting the campaign in North Leitrim. If that makes this sound like a star-studded string of interviews, Grogan’s assembled something much more grounded than that; this is a personal, intimate affair, one that zeroes in on the grassroots efforts from the people in the area.
That means a lot of footage of people hiking through the gorgeous natural landscapes Ireland has to offer, sharing their convictions and commitment, as well as their acquired knowledge. The result highlights the beauty of the environment, a reminder in itself of why it should be protected, but also highlights how a group of people can make a difference, whether they’re artists, writers or residents with an invested interest.
The company involved, Tamboran Resources, clearly thought that it could get away with advancing its fracking in the area, but the response is a rousing display of strength in unity, and the moody, atmospheric animation that accompanies their work doesn’t detract from the positive steps made in the battle to ban fracking. Filmed over 10 years, it begins with people watching a fracking documentary from 2010 called GasLand. It’s the sincerest flattery possible that Groundswell pays that film’s message forward.
Groundswell is available to rent for £9.99 from ModernFilms.com/Groundswell