USA/Ecuador/England, 2009, 101 minutes
Tue, Apr 28 / 1:45 / Kabuki / CRUD28K
Wed, Apr 29 / 6:30 / Kabuki / CRUD29K
Thu, Apr 30 / 6:30 / Kabuki / CRUD30K
Sat, May 2 / 6:15 / PFA / CRUD02P
Lawyers from both sides of the class action lawsuit Aguinda v. Chevron have descended upon the office of an Ecuadorean judge, resulting in a verbal battle that continues into the building’s corridors as attorneys grandstand and news cameras roll. By the company’s own estimates, it spilled nearly 17 million gallons of oil into soils and waterways—a staggering figure that is nearly double the notorious Exxon Valdez spill off the coast of Alaska in 1989. Lead attorney for the plaintiffs Pablo Fajardo and Chevron lawyer Adolfo Callejas litigate on location at the contaminated rain forest sites for which the plaintiffs—30,000 Ecuadoreans—maintain that current owner Chevron is responsible. Adding to the drama of the showdown, Fajardo, who began his working life in the oil fields at 14, and activist Luis Yanza have been awarded the Goldman Prize, environmentalism’s equivalent of a Nobel. Filmmaker Joe Berlinger spent three years documenting the unfolding court case, interviewing lawyers on both sides and following the story from Chevron stockholder meetings to the jungles of Ecuador. The result is a gripping David and Goliath story of activists pitted against a corporate giant, graphically illustrating the impact of corporate energy exploitation on the indigenous people of the Amazon, who face rising cancer rates, birth defects and other health problems as they struggle to survive in a poisoned landscape. Berlinger allows Chevron to make its case, too, which makes this story more nuanced than you might expect. Alternately inspiring, funny, disturbing and infuriating, Crude offers a thoughtful and complex look at the issues surrounding human rights and corporate behavior in Latin America.
In English, Spanish, A’ingae and Secoya with English subtitles. GGA Documentary Feature Contender. West Coast Premiere.