A year ago, Josh Fox was getting suited up for the Academy Awards. On Wednesday, he found himself in cuffs.
The Oscar-nominated activist-director of the documentary “Gasland” was arrested on Capitol Hill for trying to film a hearing without proper media credentials. Staffers say Fox declined an order by House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee chairman Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) to turn off his camera.
“This was an act of civil disobedience, yes, done in an impromptu fashion,” said Fox in an emailed statement later. “When I was led out of the hearing room in handcuffs, John Boehner’s pledge of transparency in Congress was taken out with me.”
Fox’s “Gasland” chronicled the environmental impact of natural gas drilling — he’s opposed to it — on small communities. The same topic was at hand in Wednesday’s hearing.
Committee Republicans issued a statement to AP saying that Fox had failed to get credentials from the House Radio and TV Gallery — but some Democrats said they didn’t have a problem with him being there. Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.) told our colleague Aaron Leitko he motioned to allow Fox to keep filming, “provided there was space and that it was not disruptive,” but the measure was defeated. Harris’s office did not get back to us for comment.
The subcommittee’s proceedings are viewable on the Web, but Miller — who said he hasn’t seen “Gasland” — understood why a filmmaker might want his footage. “There’s more latitude to show who you want to show.”
Charged with unlawful entry, Fox has a hearing scheduled for Feb. 15.
Read also: Gasland: One man’s journey into a natural gas crisis, 6/21/10; Mark Ruffalo promotes “Gasland” documentary, 2/19/11