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A List of Films About Oil and Fracking

Looking for films about  the Oil Industry? Fracking?

As news of fracking,  Keystone Pipeline XL and the BP oil spill disaster fills the media landscape, more than ever we are forced to take a hard look at our relationship with oil. Below you will find a list of recent and classic films that focus on the petroleum industry, oil spills, narrative stories, fracking, and the use of oil around the world.

The Ethics of Fracking

LocoHillsNM_ethics_frackingThe Ethics of Fracking explores the ethics of the natural gas extraction process known as “fracking”.

The film covers the political, spiritual, scientific, medical, and educational points of view of hydraulic fracturing.

The film also takes a look at the deceiving advertising the gas industry heavily relies on.

UNEARTHED: The Fracking Facade

unearthedFrom South Africa. Unearthed: The Fracking Facade unpacks a claim often abused when promoting shale gas development across the world. “In a history of 60 years, after nearly a million wells drilled, there are no documented cases that prove that hydraulic fracturing has contaminated water supplies.”

Featuring some of our US interviewees: Prof. Anthony Ingraffea, Lou Allstadt, James Northrup, Dr Ronald Bishop and community members from Pennsylvania.



In FrackNation journalist Phelim McAleer faces threats, cops and bogus lawsuits questioning green extremists for the truth about fracking. McAleer uncovers fracking facts suppressed by environmental activists, and he talks with rural Americans whose livelihoods are at risk if fracking is banned. Emotions run high but the truth runs deep.

FrackNation was made after Phelim McAleer confronted GASLAND filmmaker Josh Fox at a Q&A in Chicago.

Dear Governor Cuomo …

In May of 2012 a coalition of musicians, scientists and activists gathered in Albany on the governor’s front doorstep, calling for a ban on hydraulic-fracturing.
With the news that Governor Andrew Cuomo might lift the moratorium on fracking in New York any day, the event was assembled in less than a month. Two rehearsals in 24 hours and it was showtime!
The goal of the varied participants, many of whom had never met before this night, was to explain in clear terms the environmental, economic and health risks of fracking and to motivate people to rise up against the practice using a unique blend of music and message. The cord that bound them all was that they were first and foremost New Yorkers: New Yorkers Against Fracking.
The film that resulted from the night – a unique blend of “The Last Waltz” and “An Inconvenient Truth” – was written and directed by Jon Bowermaster and filmed under the direction of Academy Award winning doc-maker Alex Gibney. The stars of the night included actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo, environmental biologist Sandra Steingraber and a long list of musicians that included Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Dan Zanes, the Felice Brothers, Citizen Cope, Medeski Martin & Wood and many more. Read more on the film’s website.

The Price of Sand
a documentary about silica mines, small towns and money

sand_jobs“The Price of Sand” is a documentary about the frac sand mining boom in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Due to a rapid increase in demand, pure silica sand has become a valuable commodity, and mines are opening here at a rapid rate.
The silica used in hydraulic fracturing (aka : “fracking”), has other uses– glass manufacturing and toothpaste, for instance — and a few established mines have been in operation here for decades. But now, new companies have arrived, and land with accessible silica deposits is selling for high prices.

In addition to a bonanza for a few lucky landowners, the new mines promise jobs and economic stimulus for the small towns and rural areas nearby. But also opposing stories – intense truck traffic, plummeting property values, toxic silica dust.

The goal of this project: find the real price of frac sand. Not just in dollars, but in friendships, communities and the future of this region.

Pipe Dreams

Across the heartland of America, farmers and landowners are fighting to protect their land, their water, and their livelihood in what has become the most controversial envirionmental battle in the US today: The Keystone XL Pipeline. Routed from Hardisty, Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast, this tar sands pipeline is set to cross the country’s largest freshwater resource. the Ogallala Aquifer, and the fragile Sandhills of Nebraska, posing devastating consequences to human health, livestock, and agriculture. Learn more on the film site.


Gasland_DVDThe largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history has swept across the United States. The Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” or hydraulic fracturing has unlocked a “Saudia Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is fracking safe? When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies and contamination. A recently drilled nearby Pennsylvania town reports that residents are able to light their drinking water on fire. This is just one of the many absurd and astonishing revelations of a new country called GASLAND. Part verite travelogue, part expose, part mystery, part bluegrass banjo meltdown, part showdown. Learn more here.

A Crude Awakening – The Oil Crash


A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash tells the story of how our civilization’s addiction to oil puts it on a collision course with geology. Compelling, intelligent, and highly entertaining, the film visits with the world’s top experts and comes to a startling, but logical conclusion: our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil, must be completely re-imagined and overhauled.  Learn more here…

Oil On Ice


Oil on Ice is a vivid, compelling and comprehensive documentary connecting the fate of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to decisions America makes about energy policy, transportation choices, and other seemingly unrelated matters. Caught in the balance are the culture and livelihood of the Gwich’in people and the migratory wildlife in this fragile ecosystem.  Learn More Here…

Crude Impact


Crude Impact is a powerful and timely story that explores the interconnection between human domination of the planet, and the discovery and use of oil. This documentary film exposes our global, deep-rooted dependency on fossil fuel energy and examines the future implications of peak oil – the point in time when the amount of petroleum available worldwide begins a steady, inexorable decline. Learn More Here…

The Cost of Oil: Voices from the Arctic


The Cost of Oil: Voices from the Arctic examines the subsistence lifestyle of one Inupiat society in Point Hope, Alaska that may be forever altered, or even destroyed, by exploration and drilling for oil in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.  Learn More Here…

Black Wave


Twenty years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, marine biologist Riki Ott and the fishers in the town of Cordova, Alaska remind us that the biggest environmental catastrophe in North American history is still with us. Over time, its consequences have become all the more apparent and painful. The spill has profoundly altered the lives of tens of thousands of people, reducing them to poverty and despair.

Black Tide


BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an unmitigated disaster, with the environmental and economic costs growing by the day. In this short film, Christopher Morris takes us on an emotional journey to Louisiana and shows us the irreparable damage to the complex fragility of the coastal and marine ecosystems, the costs of which are still being weighed.
Learn More Here…

Crude – The Incredible Journey of Oil


From the food on our tables to the fuel in our cars, crude oil seeps invisibly into almost every part of our modern lives. It is the energy source and raw material that drives transport and the economy. Yet many of us have little idea of the incredible journey it has made to reach our petrol tanks and plastic bags.  Learn More Here…



High oil prices, global warming, and an insatiable demand for energy: these issues will be the catalyst for heated debates and positive change for many years to come. Fuel exposes the shocking connections between the auto industry, the oil industry, and the government, while exploring alternative energies such as solar, wind, electricity and non-food-based biofuels.

FUEL: Uncovering America’s Dirty Little Secret


FUEL: Uncovering America’s Dirty Little Secret is an amazing, in-depth, personal journey of oil use and abuse as it examines wide-ranging energy solutions other than oil, the faltering US auto and petroleum industries, and the latest stirrings of the American mindset toward alternative energy.  Learn More Here…

The Harriman Alaska Expedition Retraced
Two scientific expeditions to Alaska, 100 years apart, give us an unparalleled view of environmental damage and the change in society’s attitudes. Learn More Here…

Blind Spot

Blind Spot is a documentary film that illustrates the current oil and energy crisis that our world is facing.  Whatever measures of ignorance, greed, wishful thinking, we have put ourselves at a crossroad, which offers two paths with dire consequences. If we continue to burn fossil fuels we will choke the life out of the planet and if we don’t our way of life will collapse. Learn More Here…

Sweet Crude
In a small corner of the most populous country in Africa, billions of dollars of crude oil flow under the feet of a desperate people. Immense wealth and abject poverty stand in stark contrast. The environment is destroyed. The issues are complex, the answers elusive. The documentary film Sweet Crude tells the story of Nigeria’s Niger Delta. The region is seething and the global stakes are high. But in this moment, there’s an opportunity to find solutions. What if the world paid attention before it was too late?

The End of Suburbia:
Peak Oil and the Collapse of the American Dream

As we enter the 21st century, serious questions are beginning to emerge about the sustainability of this way oflife. With brutal honesty and a touch of irony, The End of Suburbia explores the American Way of Life and its prospects as the planet approaches a critical era, as global demand for fossil fuels begins to outstrip supply. World Oil Peak and the inevitable decline of fossil fuels are upon us now, some scientists and policy makers argue in this documentary.
Learn More Here…


When Is Enough, Enough?  The Appetite for Oil
When Is Enough, Enough? tells a David-versus-Goliath story of a small Native band battling major oil companies over development of the Peace-Athabasca delta in Alberta. Underneath one of the greatest freshwater deltas on earth is one of the richest oil deposits in the world.  Learn More Here…

Split Estate
Documents the devastating effect that oil and gas drilling is having on the health of families and the environment in the Rocky Mountain West. Learn More Here…

A dramatic film about the cost of an oil spill to a fishing village in the Philippines. Learn More Here…

Blood and Oil
The stated reasons, and the real reasons, for the Iraq war. Learn More Here…

Baked Alaska
Temperatures in Alaska are rising ten times faster than in the rest of the world. President George W. Bush is ignoring the warning signs about global warming; after pulling out of the Kyoto convention, he now wants to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. Native Alaskans are divided: the Inupiat Eskimos want the jobs and the money that drilling would bring, but the Gwich’in Indians fear it will destroy their caribou.
Learn More Here…

collapse_smIt’s the shattering documentary that has been called superb (Entertainment Weekly), hypnotic and haunting (Time Magazine) and so masterfully made it s impossible to look away (AllMovie.com). COLLAPSE is the story of Michael Ruppert, former Los Angeles police officer turned rogue reporter whose eerie prediction of the current financial crisis shocked millions. Now Ruppert is warning of a new meltdown, one rooted in oil, economics, and covert U.S. policies that are leading us all towards unprecedented global disaster. Is he a prophet who can clearly see America s terrifying future, or a conspiracy theorist fueled by fear and paranoia? And if Ruppert is right, can this slide into catastrophe be stopped? Experience this sometimes harrowing, often poignant and always riveting look into the mind of the ultimate outsider from filmmaker Chris Smith, the award-winning director of American Movie and The Yes Men.  Learn More here…

There Will Be Blood

A sprawling epic of family, faith, power and oil, THERE WILL BE BLOOD is set on the incendiary frontier of California’s turn-of-the-century petroleum boom. The story chronicles the life and times of one Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis), who transforms himself from a down-and-out silver miner raising a son on his own into a self-made oil tycoon. When Plainview gets a mysterious tip-off that there’s a little town out West where an ocean of oil is oozing out of the ground, he heads with his son, H.W. (Dillon Freasier), to take their chances in dust-worn Little Boston. In this hardscrabble town, where the main excitement centers around the holy roller church of charismatic preacher Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), Plainview and H.W. make their lucky strike. But even as the well raises all of their fortunes, nothing will remain the same as conflicts escalate and every human value – love, hope, community, belief, ambition and even the bond between father and son – is imperiled by corruption, deception and the flow of oil.  Learn More Here…

The Story of Petroleum (1923)
A promotional film financed by the United States Bureau of Mines and featuring the facilities of the Sinclair Oil Company, this film is a significant document of early 20th-century industrial manufacturing, including the thoughtlessness of oil spillage, the seemingly careless method of cross-country pipeline laying, and a lack of facility grounds upkeep — a sad indictment of American post-Industrial Revolution practices. The film is also a fascinating view into the past — not often documented — of equipment, tools, facilities, architecture, even signage, clothing and shoes. — Carl Bennet. Can be seen on Special Features of There Will Be Blood. Learn More Here…

Future Fuels

Future Fuels is the ultimate guide to alternative energy for consumers. The program features real people’s experiences with BioDiesel, Solar Power, Hybrid & Electric Cars, Wind Generators and Ethanol. Learn how to Say No to Foreign Oil, Save Money at Home and at the Pump and Reduce your Carbon Footprint. Learn More Here…

PetroApocalypse Now?

Is the oil beginning to run out? Shot over four years in 13 countries this film uncovers the myths surrounding the future of world oil supplies. The producers lift the lid on the ‘Peak Oil’ theory – whether oil production is about to fall.  Learn More Here…

Louisana Story (1948)

Nominated for an Oscar® and the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for its musical score, Robert J. Flaherty’s last masterpiece is a visually stunning, lyrical tribute to a land and its people. Through the eyes of a young Cajun boy living on the Bayou, Flaherty tells a story of disruption and change when an oil rig brings industry into his pristine world. Listed on the National Film Registry as a national treasure, Louisiana Story has finally been restored to its original glory.  Available on Amazon Video on Demand.

Three years in the making, this cinéma-vérité feature from acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases on the planet. An inside look at the infamous $27  billion “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude is a real-life high stakes legal drama set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking as it examines a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus. Learn More Here …

The Oil Factor
After assessing today’s dwindling oil reserves and skyrocketing use of oil for fuels, plastics and chemicals, The Oil Factor questions the motives for the U.S. wars in the Middle-East and Central Asia where ¾ of the world’s oil and natural gas is located. Learn More Here…

The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

The DVD focuses on Cuba’s transition from an industrial petroleum-based society to a sustainable society, as a result of their loss of petroleum when their source, the Soviet Union, collapsed. Learn More Here…

The Wages of Fear (1953) France
In a squalid South American oil town, four desperate men sign on for a suicide mission to drive trucks loaded with nitroglycerin over a treacherous mountain route. As they ferry their explosive cargo to a faraway oil fire, each bump and jolt tests their courage, their friendship, and their nerves. The result is one of the greatest thrillers ever committed to celluloid, a white-knuckle ride from France’s legendary master of suspense, Henri-Georges Clouzot.  Learn More Here…

Fight For Oil is a three part series about worldwide interest in oil for its acquisitions and control.  That is why over the last 100 years, the Middle East has been the center of world conflict. Learn More Here…

China VS the USA: The Battle for Oil is a 52 minute show about China’s immense need for oil and it’s growing dependency on this energy.  This growth has cause China to launch a world conquest pursuing every country that has oil. Learn More Here …

A FUTURE WITHOUT OIL : The film starts out in Ecuador, country whose economy depends on oil. The main oil reserves of the country are located in the Yasuni region of the Amazon. Three years ago, Rafael Correa, the President of Ecuador took on a bold challenge: try to convince the world that pure air from the Amazon is worth more than oil extraction. He decides to stop exploiting the oil from the Yasuni and convince western countries to fund this effort in compensation. A deal he considers a win-win situation. For three years, the film crew follows him and  a team of science as they travel the world to pitch their revolutionary idea. Learn More…


Numerous oil related films can be found in these academic resource centers:

UC Berkeley Moffitt Library
Transportation Studies. Scroll down to ‘Oil’

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4 Responses to “A List of Films About Oil and Fracking”

  1. Today’s News: celebrity Tom Truong decided to grant the human free online college education from Harvard University & Princeston University to billions of people world wide. A few of his fans are currently enjoying it now. Go tell everyone. Enjoy his gift at coursera.org and edxonline.org and khanacademy.org

    June 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm
  2. Thank you for the list above. Before this, I always spent my time watching medical dramas and movies – because I planned to become a doctor. Now that I have set up my mind to become a petroleum engineer, I believe that I should be watching documentaries and movies that explain a great deal about this interesting yet challenging field. Movies help a lot 😉

    December 27, 2012 at 4:23 am
  3. Another film to add to this list would be Before The Last Drop, a interesting yet unconventional technique….BTLD is a feature length awareness documentary that explores the symbiotic relationships of water and energy. Before the last drop focuses its story in Garfield County Colorado, where oil and gas development and the process of “Fracking” is threatening our much needed water supply.
    When population growth collides with climate change and the energy industry, who gets hurt and who pays the collision costs? When an insider working the gas drilling pads speaks out, who listens? And what about the ultimate insider, water? What would water say if she could speak?​​

    September 7, 2017 at 8:29 am

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