Filmmaker Joe Berlinger has a guest post in Gas 2.0 on why he did Crude, a documentary about a $27 billion lawsuit by Ecuadorean inhabitants of the Amazon against Texaco for despoiling an enormous area of the Amazon.
He had to be convinced to do it and the film made a point of getting Texaco to comment too. Which probably adds to the impact.
Much of my previous work, such as Brother’s Keeper, Paradise Lost and Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, has sought to break down stereotypes and preconceived notions and probe beneath the surface of people and situations. In the real world, things aren’t black and white, and this is how I approached this story, as well. An indigenous Amazonian leader doesn’t just show up at a Chevron shareholders’ meeting and confront the CEO all by himself – he is coached by a Harvard-educated attorney. The Ecuadorean plaintiffs can’t spend fifteen years in court on their own – they need a high-powered Philadelphia law firm specializing in class action lawsuits to pay for the investigations that Ecuadorean law requires – and that law firm stands to profit from any judgment. The attorneys for both the oil company and the plaintiffs compete for media attention, but the spotlight on the case gets brighter when celebrity activists Trudie Styler and Sting come on board. Yet here too I hope the film topples the usual clichés, as Trudie proves herself to be anything but a token “rent-a-celeb,” delivering on a promise she makes to help ease the suffering of the people.