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// Films // Crude: The Real Price of Oil

Crude: The Real Price of Oil

Joe Berlinger / United States / 2009 / 100 ' / English


Alyse Ardell Spiegel
Joe Berlinger, Michael Bonfiglio & Pocho Alvarez
Joe Berlinger & Michael Bonfiglio

Awards & Festivals

Winner, Best Documentaries of the Year, National Board of Review
Winner, International Green Film Award, Cinema for Peace
Winner, Best International Documentary, One World Media Awards
Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Independent Film Festival of Boston
Winner, Grand Jury Prize, Yale Environmental Film Festival
Winner, Grand Prize - 27e Festival International du Film d’Environnement
Winner, World Wildlife Fund Documentary Award, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival
Winner, Current Energy Filmmaker Award, AFI Dallas International Film Festival
Winner, Best Editing, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Winner, Human Spirit Award, Nashville Film Festival
Winner, EarthVision Environmental Film Award, Santa Cruz Film Festival
Winner, Reel Earth Award, International Features, Reel Earth Film Festival New Zealand
Winner, Best Documentary Film, Mexico International Film Festival
Winner, OFF Docúpolis Award, Docúpolis International Documentary Film Festival
Winner, Special Jury Prize for Environmental Documentary, Traverse City Film Festival
Winner, Elizabeth Taylor Humanitarian Award, Puerto Vallarta Film Festival
Winner, Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary, Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival
Winner, Brando Award, Red Nation Film Festival
Winner, Shining Light Award, Jacksonville Film Festival
Winner, Audience Award, Documentary, Amazonas Film Festival
Winner, Gold Kahuna Award, Honolulu Film Festival
Winner, Best Filmmaker Award, One World Kyrgyzstan Film Festival

Upcoming Screenings

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previously screened

In Production

Texaco/Chevron spent three decades systematically contaminating one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth.


This cinéma-vérité featurefrom acclaimed filmmaker Joe Berlinger (Brother’s KeeperParadiseLostMetallica: Some Kind of Monster) is the epic story of one of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuits on the planet. The inside story of the infamous “Amazon Chernobyl” case, Crude isa real-life high stakes legal drama, set against a backdrop of the environmental movement, global politics, celebrity activism, human rights advocacy, the media, multinational corporate power, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures. Presenting a complex situation from multiple viewpoints, the film subverts the conventions of advocacy filmmaking, exploring a complicated situation from all angles while bringing an important story of environmental peril and human suffering into focus.

The landmark case takes place in the Amazon jungle of Ecuador, pitting 30,000 indigenous and colonial rainforest dwellers against the U.S. oil giant Chevron.The plaintiffs claim that Texaco – which merged with Chevron in 2001 – spent three decades systematically contaminating one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, poisoning the water, air and land. The plaintiffs allege that the pollution has created a “death zone” in an area the size of Rhode Island, resulting in increased rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and a multiplicity of other health ailments. They further allege that the oil operations in the region contributed to the destruction of indigenous peoples and irrevocably impacted their traditional way of life. Chevron vociferously fights the claims, charging that the case is a complete fabrication, perpetrated by “environmental con men” who are seeking to line their pocketswith the company’s billions.

The case takes place not just in a courtroom, but in a series of field inspections at the alleged contamination sites, with the judge and attorneys for both sides trudging through the jungle to litigate. And the battleground has expanded far beyond the legal process. The cameras rolled as the conflict raged in and out of court, and the case drew attention from an array of celebrities, politicians and journalists, and landed on the cover of Vanity Fair. Some of the film’s subjects sparked further controversy as they won a CNN “Hero” award and the Goldman Award, the environmental equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

Shooting in dozens of locations on three continents and in multiple languages, Berlinger and his crew gained extraordinary access to players on all sides of the legal fight and beyond, capturing the drama as it unfolded while the case grew from a little-known legal story to an international cause célèbre. Crude is a ground-level view of one of the most extraordinary legal dramas of our time, one that has the potential of forever changing the way international business is conducted. While the environmental impact of the consumption of fossil fuels has been increasingly documented in recent years, Crude focuses on the human cost of our addiction to oil and the increasingly difficult task of holding a major corporation accountable for its past deeds.


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