By Cristy Meiners, producer
I was a little like director Joe Berlinger when I was first approached with doing the documentary Crude for the show: I knew it was a good topic, but I had so many other things on my plate at the time that I initially refused the interview. But, the publicist persisted (which, I have to say, rarely works), I looked again, and realized that no matter what else I was working on, I HAD to fit Joe in for an interview. While yes, Crude is a film for festivals and the theater, this is no idle entertainment, however engaging. It is, most basically, a remarkable piece of investigative journalism, with a crew who turned their attention to both sides of a 16 year legal battle that will continue to rage for possibly another 10. The case, called by many the “Amazon Chernobyl,” is between 30,000 Ecuadorians and the U.S. oil company Chevron. The plaintiffs claim that Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, spent 30 years polluting an area about the size of the Rhode Island in the Amazon rainforest, otherwise known as the “Earth’s Lung.” They allege that because of this pollution the area has seen an increase in birth defects, cancer, leukemia, and other health problems.
Joe Berlinger (who also directed and produced Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and Brother’s Keeper) interviewed not just the plaintiffs and their supporters (including Trudie Styler, global humanitarian and wife of musician Sting) but also members of Chevron’s legal team, their senior scientific advisor, and other Chevron-friendly voices. Of course, it’s not easy to like or trust these people, since they seem to have BIG OIL stamped across their foreheads, and the evidence Berlinger digs up against them is not only often damning, it also shows just how crude a case like this can get.
Then click on “now playing” to find out where you can see Crude.
And note the clever name of the website.