A Snowmobile For George
A rambunctious road trip reveals the toll that environmental deregulation has had on the lives of ordinary people, including the effects of fracking for natural gas.
Directed by Todd Darling
Produced by Highway De Lux
Editors: Tom Siiter, Mary Kate Willett, Dan McConnell, Todd Darling
Camera: Scott Simper, Randy Wimberg, Dan McConnell, Todd Darling
Music: Ross Godfrey
A Snowmobile for George is a rambunctious road trip that collects the stories of fishermen, cowboys and firemen who have had to face the consequences of environmental deregulation by the Bush Administration. Started by a question about the filmmaker's own used two-stroke snowmobile engine, this trip steadily reveals the political strategy and rationale behind a massive sell-off of public resources.
"A fitting testimony to a sick era in American politics." Bill McKibben, Educator, Environmentalist, Author
But if close ties between corporations and the Bush White House don't surprise you, the film's approach may. A Snowmobile for George begins modestly as a one-man, one-machine road film that simply asks why rules to clean up a smoky off-road machine got shelved. With no presumption of guilt or blame, filmmaker Todd Darling tows his family snowmobile across the United States and persists in asking that question. The film's humble point of departure gives little hint as to its ultimate destination. What starts off as a personal quest gradually morphs as this journey takes the viewer to the sites of more serious environmental change.
These sites include a fish die-off on the Klamath River on the California-Oregon border, coal bed methane extraction (fracking) on a ranch in Wyoming, 2-stroke snowmobiles in Yellowstone, and the respiratory problems faced by firemen who worked at Ground Zero. The common thread among these stories is deregulation - the notion that common citizens benefit when "the government gets off their back." But the film uncovers how the Administration worked efficiently to match up the goals of select industries with the political demands of the White House at the expense of the little guy.
Grade Level: 10-12, College, Adult
US Release Date: 2008
Copyright Date: 2008
DVD ISBN: 1-59458-845-7
VHS ISBN: 1-59458-844-9
"This is a fitting testimony to a sick era in American politics."
Bill McKibben, Educator, Environmentalist, Author, The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
"A Snowmobile for George clearly points out how anti-environmental Bush's approach to politics has been, in benefiting only society's rich and powerful interests sympathetic to industry and development.The documentary was a powerful statement about the far-reaching hand of Washington politics into the grass-root areas of American life, and how difficult it has been under the Bush Administration to protect the environment in a situation where the Administration was staffed so heavily with persons who were asked to work on environmental policy, who had previously been attached to the oil industry or, at the very least, were openly sympathetic to anti-environmental values."
Dr. Byron W. Daynes, Professor of Political Science, Brigham Young University, co-Author, American Politics and the Environment, and White House Politics and the Environment: Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush (forthcoming)
"A Snowmobile for George is a graphic, compelling, and sometimes heart-wrenching depiction of the damage that results to people and the environment when government officials elevate corporate interests over the public interest. This is a cautionary tale with a powerful and timely message: elections matter. This film provides an excellent teaching tool to explore the uses and abuses of government authority in the context of how our environmental laws and policies are actually administered on the ground. Hopefully it will inspire greater vigilance on the part of citizens and more responsible behavior on the part of our elected officials."
Patrick Parenteau, Professor of Law, Senior Counsel, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Vermont Law School
"An entertaining, insightful, and informative documentary...At heart, the film is about the politics of environmental deregulation and its effects on the American public, and as such it offers a trenchant critique of the conservative Bush agenda and how it was put into effect. This is one of the most original and interesting films in years on U.S. environmental politics and policy."
Michael E. Kraft, Professor and Chair, Political Science, Professor, Public and Environmental Affairs, Professor, Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
"An engaging and richly informative investigation of the clash between those who love the environment and those who treat it as a disposable item in the corporate plunder-for-profit system. Composed with perception, irony, and humor, A Snowmobile for George is something to really see. It reminds us that the ecological struggle is also very much a political struggle."
Michael Parenti, author, Contrary Notions and The Culture Struggle
"Although Bush is no longer in Washington, his legacy remains, and A Snowmobile for George offers a harsh inventory of the former president's actions. Highly recommended."
Voted one of "Top 10 Environmental Documentaries of 2009...[An] eye-opening movie about the enormous consequences that can occur just from one small rule change."
Mother Nature Network
"An eye-catching and provocative film...sheds an opinionated light on the sophisticated electoral calculus behind many of today's headlines."
The Portland Tribune
"With Sindy, his snowmobile, in tow, [Todd Darling] documents the devastating impact of deregulation on the environment, including wildlife endangerment in California, water depletion in Wyoming, and asbestos contamination in post-9/11 New York City. Refreshingly unpretentious and even-keeled, Darling interviews everyday ranchers, fishermen, and firemen, listening to opponents and proponents of Bush's policies alike. He truly hits his stride by exposing Federal conflicts of interest and illuminating the political power play behind the scenes."
San Francisco Bay Guardian
"A far-reaching, clearly drawn examination of the environmental policy of the Bush administration...Darling exposes a chilling disregard on the part of this administration not only for the environment but for citizens."
Chris Honoré, Ashland Daily Tidings
"There are some odd coincidences to the timeliness of A Snow Mobile for George, but it's not so much about snowmobiles, or the ranchers and energy industry in Dick Cheney's Wyoming. It's about the question of government regulation."
Will Coviello, New Orleans Gambit
"Snappy and droll...the footage accompanying the opening credits is absurdly hilarious."
Stan Hall, The Oregonian
"Preferring pluck over political preachy-ness, Darling's method should connect with both lefties and conservatives."
Matt Kettman, Santa Barbara Independent
"A visually beautiful and well-crafted doc about the evils of deregulation. Structured like a personal essay, Darling goes from wondering about the reinstatement of 2-stroke snowmobile engines in national parks, to a wider case about the Bushies slavish service to corporate giants. Subtle, sly and funny, except when it's horrifying...Terrific movie."
KBOO FM Radio
Includes 2 short films, The West At Its Best [3:22] and Rocket Sled [2:28], plus scene selection and SDH captions for the deaf and hard-of-hearing.
The producer's website for the film
Awards and Festivals
Top 10 Environmental Documentaries of the Year List, Mother Nature Network
Best Documentary Finalist, Ashland Independent Film Festival
Santa Barbara International Film Festival
Honorable Mention, Columbus International Film and Video Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Sedona Film Festival
Atlanta Film Festival
Newport Beach Film Festival
Breckenridge Festival of Film
Port Townsend Film Festival
New Orleans Film Festival
American Conservation Film Festival
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