Gas Van Sant «Promised Land» Is Attepmt of Dialog Between People and Oil Corporations

A famous american director Gas Van Sant came to Saint-Petersburg in December to present a retrospective screening of his film «Harvey Milk». Our specail correspondent managed to have an interview with a living classic and ask him a couple of questions about the main ecological film of last decades, «Promised Land». It turns out that the before shooting the direcor didn’t have any idea about natural gaz extraction and about how it can contaminate water in the whole city! So, cinema is still the most important education instrument. We recomment the film and we’re going to tell about Mr. Van Sant’s thought about ecological and political problems.

Кадр из фильма «Страна обетованная»

I’ve been to Saint-Petersburg twenty years ago and this time it was especially interesting to come here, to see how the city had changed. I was invited to the «Side-to-side» festival and I accepted it. I’ve came here not as a political activist, but rather as a social observer. But the fact of my visit itself is a some kind if a political statement. The main political instrument is media. But I was always not good with it. My visit here is the same thin I did in eighties, when I drew media’s attention to my film.

I presented a retrospective screening of my film «Harvey Milk» in Saint-Petersburg. I think this is a biographical film, but the questions raised here are wider than just sexual minorities rights. These are the city problems, problems of trade unions and workers self-organization. Harvey himself was solving different social problems of San-Francisco, from protecting aged people of the city till the famous case of dog exctrements, reflected in the film. I think, this is mostley a political film.

Acting is not foe me, it’s too hard for me and I can hardly manage with the challenges. So, all my experience of acting is desperate learning the roles by heart. Of course, I tried to play as a good actor, but I’ve got not much experience in this sphere.

I made a few musical videos, but for me it’s too hard. I don’t think I was good enough with it, so I just stopped doing it. For me this is a complicated kind of art. I know several directors, who make really good musical videos. Probably, I’m more interested in the dramatic aspect of the cinema, but for musical players visual aspect is more important.

«Promised Land» is my main film about ecology. I heard somewhere that Matt Damon was going to shoot a film with Ben Affleck about gas extraction using method of hydraulic fracturing. I remember, I thought: what if they have any troubles and need me! Sometimes Matt sends me some project or screenplay, where he is going to play. But usually these screenplays are not so interesting because it is not Matt who wrote them. But this screenplay was written by him so it was very interesting for me to take part in the project. So, when I got an invitation from him, I accepted it immediately.

Previously I didn’t realize that this method of extracting hydrocarbons is so dangerous for the environment, especially to ground water, which often supply whole cities with water. Before showing me the screenplay Matt sent me a digest of news about hydraulic fracturing and its influence on the environment. But I didn’t pay much attention to it really. Everything I know about it now I’ve learned from the screenplay. I hope the audience will have the right impression of the problem.

There were rumours that some oil companies representatives were going to have a hard talk with us and to explain us that everuthing we do is very bad. We thought they would picket the studio, but fortunately they didn’t make шею On the contrary, people in the cities where we were shooting the film showed a great respect to out job. They understood that this film was a dialog between the citizens and oil corporations, and that we were not going to demonize a widespread method of gaz extraction.


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