Adaptation of 'Enemy of the People' parallels hydrofracking dispute

Josh Fox, the Oscar-nommed director of hydrofracking docu “GasLand,” is developing a contemporary feature based on Henrik Ibsen’s 1882 play “An Enemy of the People,” which deals with a tannery polluting a town’s water supply.

Fox has lined up backing for the project from Greg Ammon of Uneac Entertainment and hopes to begin shooting this summer with Ammon and Dan Halsted of Manage-Ment are producing. He’s aiming for his friend Mark Ruffalo to take a starring role.

“Even though the play is 130 years old, it really feels like something that is very evocative right now,” Fox told Variety. “One advantage of going with a classic is that you know that it works in front of audiences.”

Fox said he would probably set the feature in the Catskills. In Ibsen’s play, a Norwegian doctor has headed a succesful project developing baths, only to discover that waste products from the town’s tannery are contaminating the waters and making tourists ill. He finds himself blocked by authorities and sees the town residents turn against him and refuse to accept his claims.

Ammon is the producer and director of “59 Middle Lane,” which documents his personal journey as the adopted son of murdered financier Ted Ammon. “‘An Enemy of the People’ is right in line with the goal of Uneac — making films that raise public awareness about socially relevant issues,” he said.

Fox has been working with Ruffalo on the issue of fracking for the past two years after meeting at Sundance in 2010, when Ruffalo was at the fest with “The Kids Are All Right” and Fox was there for “GasLand.”

Fox is assembling “GasLand 2″ for HBO and was arrested Wednesday on Capitol Hill when he refused to turn off his camera during a hearing at the House Energy and Environment subcommittee to examine the EPA’s findings that hydraulic fracturing fluids had contaminated groundwater in the town of Pavillion, Wyo.

Fox, who had featured the town of Pavillion and its residents in “GasLand,” was taken away in handcuffs, jailed for three hours and charged with unlawful entry. He said he’s been ordered to appear in court Feb. 15. He was also arrested in September for protesting the Keystone tar sands project.

“As a filmmaker and journalist, I have covered hundreds of public hearings, including Congressional hearings,” he said in a statement. “It is my understanding that public speech is allowed to be filmed. Congress should be no exception.”

Fox and Ammon are repped by Halsted.

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