Joe Berlinger had sworn off non-commercial projects when he heard about the class-action lawsuit brought by indigenous people in Ecuador against Chevron over the devastation of their tribal lands. It wasn’t so much the lawsuit, but the fact that this action, which had been in progress for years, hadn’t rated much media attention that grabbed him. He wasn’t able to turn away.
During our conversation in September of 2009, he discussed the relative nature of justice, why emotion and righteous indignation trumped logic, as well as the physical toll visiting the oil pits, and dosing himself with anti-malarial drugs, took on him.
CRUDE is his documentary chronicling the protracted class-action lawsuit brought by the indigenous people of Amazonian Ecuador against Chevron for precipitating an environmental disaster in the rainforest focusing on two lawyers, Steven Donziger and Pablo Farjado, who come from wildly different backgrounds, but combine forces and their unique talents to speak for the plaintiffs.. 30.000 Ecuadorians originally filed the lawsuite against Texaco in 1993, Chevron inherited it in 2001. Thile there is no question about what the oil drilling in the area has done, the film brings up many troubling questions of responsibility, and the struggle in a legal battle for truth to will out. And where ultimate responsibility lies for righting wrongs committed in an earlier era when regulations were different, and governments themselves may have been complicit. Justice, something that should be simple, becomes the stuff of nitpicking, and questions of whether or not remediation can compensate for a loss of culture linger long after the film’s closing credits.
Click here for the full review of CRUDE.