In the aggressive search for the ‘black gold’ that drives Western economies, multinational corporations are working to extract billions of dollars of oil reserves from beneath Ecuador’s rainforest. BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND THE ROOSTER’S CROW investigates the operations of the EnCana Corporation, a firm that, despite proud public declarations of its social responsibility, is shown to be answerable for widespread environmental contamination and human rights violations.
The documentary focuses on EnCana’s development of a heavy crude oil pipeline from the Amazon across the earthquake-prone Andes to the Pacific coast for export. Since oil exploitation represents a solution for Ecuador’s economic crisis, the government has gone out of its way to facilitate EnCana’s plans, disregarding protests about property destruction and contamination. The government has even lauded EnCana for its supposed responsibility (the film’s title refers to a government decision to present EnCana with an environmental award).
Filmmaker Nadja Drost follows the cross-country route of the pipeline, along the way interviewing farmers, indigenous community representatives, environmental activists and others, who recount forced relocation, imprisonment, and intimidation, including shootings and beatings by the Ecuadorian police and army who protect EnCana’s pipeline. Avoiding government and corporate security agents, Drost documents unsafe construction, toxic waste, and contamination of rivers, as well as the affects on Ecuadorians (skin cancer, miscarriages and birth defects) and the destruction of wildlife and natural preserves. Occasionally dredging up a lump of foul-smelling crude on the end of a stick, the filmmaker here becomes, literally, a muck-raking journalist. We also see Drost presenting evidence of corporate misdeeds to Ecuadorian government bureaucrats, and confronting EnCana’s CEO at a stockholders’ meeting.
Ultimately, BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND THE ROOSTER’S CROW is a revealing case study of the troubling connections between multinational corporations, insatiable Western consumption patterns, and the resultant devastation wrought on the social, economic, and environmental conditions of foreign countries and populations.