search

Crude

From the director of Paradise Lost

Crude

All those who, in the storm of polemics from the likes of Michael Moore and 'personal journey' factual films by people such as Morgan Spurlock, may have forgotten what a proper, balanced documentary looks like, should make sure they take a look at the latest from Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind Of Monster).

Taking on the tricky subject of one of the largest and most controversial legal cases in history, he charts the progress of courtroom attempts to get redress from Texaco (and by extension Chevron) for the aftermath of oil drilling in Ecuador. Berlinger documents the state of the Ecuadorian rainforest and the people of the region, who, the film attests, are bearing the brunt of Texaco's failure to clean up after itself. There are around 30,000 people living under the rainforest's canopy, reliant upon it for their existence, but now many are suffering from a multitude of health problems – from cancer to birth defects and skin ailments – which lawyers representing them say can be laid at the feet of the oil company's pollution.

It is true that Berlinger is clearly on the side of the indigenous populace in all this, in his Director's statement he says he left his first trip to the area "feeling sick - literally, from the noxious fumes I ingested - and figuratively from the things I saw and stories I heard". But after the overwhelming weight of evidence in this documentary it is unlikely there will be a queue forming to join the Chevron camp. Despite this, unlike so many other filmmakers, he remembers the golden rule of documentary: right of reply. It is a very clever move, since, in airing the opposing viewpoint, through the use of the petroleum giant's videos and spokesmen, he gives Chevron just enough rope to hang itself with.

Here, he gives a face to the bigger issues by keeping his focus chiefly on 35-year-old lawyer Pablo Fajardo, who despite living in what can only be described as humble circumstances, is leading the case against Chevron with the help of a hot-shot US pro-bono lawyer's firm. And what a case it is. Running since November 1993, it has been subject first to legal wrangling in the US, before Chevron won the battle for the bandwagon to be moved to the courts in Ecuador, in 2002, where extensive evidence-gathering began in earnest.

Shot over a three-year period, Berlinger documents the evidence phase of the case, at the same time as exploring the more personal stories of those affected by the pollution. All the way along, he lets Chevron deny involvement, although the physical evidence tells a quite different story. While possibly focusing a little too much on Fajardo's burgeoning fame in America and a visit from Trudie Styler at the expense of the more hard-hitting personal stories from the region, these are small grumbles which don't detract from the fact that this is a well-balanced and thought-provoking documentary that doesn't forget that the cinema going experience needs to entertain as well as educate.

— A. Wilkinson, Eye for Film

Crude

Thu November 5, 2009, 7:00 & 9:15, Muenzinger Auditorium

USA, 2009, English, Color, 105 min, Not Rated, Widescreen, 1.85:1, 35mm

recommend

Tickets

10 films for $60 with punch card
$9 general admission. $7 w/UCB student ID, $7 for senior citizens
$1 discount to anyone with a bike helmet
Free on your birthday! CU Cinema Studies students get in free.

Parking

Pay lot 360 (now only $1/hour!), across from the buffalo statue and next to the Duane Physics tower, is closest to Muenzinger. Free parking can be found after 5pm at the meters along Colorado Ave east of Folsom stadium and along University Ave west of Macky.

RTD Bus

Park elsewhere and catch the HOP to campus

International Film Series

(Originally called The University Film Commission)
Established 1941 by James Sandoe.

First Person Cinema

(Originally called The Experimental Cinema Group)
Established 1955 by Carla Selby, Gladney Oakley, Bruce Conner and Stan Brakhage.

C.U. Film Program

(AKA The Rocky Mountain Film Center)
First offered degrees in filmmaking and critical studies in 1989 under the guidance of Virgil Grillo.

Celebrating Stan

Created by Suranjan Ganguly in 2003.

C.U. Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Established 2017 by Chair Ernesto Acevedo-Muñoz.

Thank you, sponsors!
Boulder International Film Festival
Department of Cinema Studies & Moving Image Arts

Looking for a gift for a friend?
Buy a Frequent Patron Punch Card for $60 at any IFS show. With the punch card you can see ten films (a value of $90).

Virtual titles to stream from home

Cox & Kjølseth
: Filmmaker Alex Cox & Pablo Kjølseth discuss film topics from their own unique perspectives.

Z-briefs
: Pablo and Ana share Zoom-based briefs on what's currently playing at IFS

Sprocket Damage
: Sprocket Damage digs deep(ish) into current and classic films and film-related subjects to bring to you insightful, humorous, and enlightening perspectives on the industry.

Search IFS schedules

Index of visiting artists

Sun Sep 26, 2021

Highway Patrolman

At Muenzinger Auditorium

Wed Sep 29, 2021

The Mummy

At Muenzinger Auditorium

more on 35mm...