Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Taking on Chevron

Oil giant Chevron has requested a copy of over 600 unused hours of footage filmed by documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger for his movie Crude, which chronicles the lawsuit filed by Ecuadorians against Texaco (now owned by Chevron) for contamination of local drinking systems and pollution of the Amazon. Chevron is hoping to use the footage to build their defense against paying reparations to indigenous Amazonian communities. Berlinger is fighting the request but if granted, it has far reaching effects on the world of documentary filmmaking. The question is, would this request, if granted, prevent future filmmakers from attempting to take on giant corporations? Could this change the way a filmmaker tells their story for fear of a similar outcome?

I watch a lot of documentaries, actually, I pretty much only watch documentaries. Generalized movies about global warming and environmental degradation are a plenty these days, but films like Crude, ones that name names and take on the omniscient, seemingly impenetrable giant corporations are rare because of the money and power they are up against. Don't get me wrong, all of these films are important to the cause but to hold major polluters accountable for their actions are crucial to instituting large-scale change. This latest move by Chevron is frightening but not surprising- it is merely another example of what filmmakers who take on these subjects are up against. I highly recommend seeing this David versus Goliath film.

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