Sleeper Hits of the Summer – Part 1: The Curious Case of 30,000 Indigenous People vs. Chevron

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By Anna Phelan, Amnesty International USA’s Business & Economic Relations Group

Among my picks for sleeper hits of the summer, is a powerful documentary film called Crude: The Real Price of Oil. The film is described as a 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. For the most part, the main characters aren’t actors… well, I mean Chevron’s invested a lot of money and time in their web of lies, so maybe they’ve been taking acting lessons. And so far, Chevron’s signature method of acting has been to deny responsibility and shift the blame for contaminated soil and groundwater in the communities of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

:: Learn more about the history of oil in the Amazon and Amnesty’s work ::

On Sunday, the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke of how indigenous communities suffer disproportionately from low health standards linked to poverty, malnutrition, environmental contamination and inadequate healthcare marking the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People. The hardship and discrimination faced by indigenous peoples has a lot to do with the fact that they are often excluded from decision-making processes – by both governments and corporations. In her Op-Ed piece, Navanethem Pillay, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, called for more than a symbolic celebration saying, after centuries of repression, they need comprehensive tools to defend their human rights, their way of life, and their aspirations.

And that’s what makes the case against Chevron a compelling story for film – not unlike the Doe v. Unocal lawsuit or, more recently, Wiwa v. Royal Dutch Shell. Indigenous peoples are gaining access to the legal system to challenge governments and transnational companies and defend their human rights. You might not know their names, but the 30,000 indigenous people who filed suit against Texaco (now Chevron) in 1993 are more than Extras. They are the real-life protagonists.

Sleeper hits are made by word of mouth recommendations. Crude: The Real Price of Oil opens to larger audiences on 09/09/09. Take action now to show your support of human rights for the indigenous communities of Amazon’s Ecuador.

Crude: The Real Price of Oil Trailer

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10 thoughts on “Sleeper Hits of the Summer – Part 1: The Curious Case of 30,000 Indigenous People vs. Chevron

  1. Crude opens at the IFC Center in New York City on 09/09/09, followed shortly thereafter by L.A. & S.F., and then a handful of other markets across the U.S. In order for the film to gain real national distribution, it must nearly sell out in the key markets. Theaters all across the country will be watching to see how the film performs in the first few weeks to decide whether to bring it to their screen.

    Here's the latest list of dates & theaters… go see CRUDE!

    September 9 – 22: New York, NY (IFC Center)
    September 18 – 24: Los Angeles (Landmark Nuart)
    September 25 – October 1: San Francisco, CA (Landmark Theaters)
    September 25 – October 1: Berkeley, CA (Landmark Theaters)
    September 25 – October 1: San Diego, CA (Landmark Theaters)
    October 7: Portland, OR: (Northwest Film Center)
    October 9 – 15: Philadelphia, PA (Landmark Ritz at Bourse)
    October 9 – 15: Austin, TX (Landmark Dobie)
    October 16 – 22: Santa Fe, NM (The Screen)
    October 16 – 22: Denver, CO (Landmark Theaters)
    October 18 & 19: Pleasantville, NY (Jacob Burns Film Center)
    October 20: Santa Barbara, CA (UCSB Arts and Lectures)
    October 23 – 29: Washington, DC (Landmark E Street)
    October 23 – 29: Seattle Washington (Landmark Varsity)
    November 5, 2009: Boulder, CO International Film Series
    November 6 – 8 & 13 – 14: Boston, MA (Museum of Fine Arts)
    November 6 – 12: Dallas, TX (Angelika Dallas)
    November 6 – 12: Houston, TX (Angelika Houston)
    November 13 – 19: Baltimore, MD (The Charles Theatre)
    November 13 – 19: Minneapolis, MN (Landmark Theaters)
    November 20 – 26: Hartford, CT (Real Artways)
    November 27 – December 3: Atlanta, GA (Plaza Theatre)
    November 27 – December 3: San Antonio, TX ( Bijou @ Crossroads)
    November 27 – December 3: Atlanta, GA (Plaza Theatre)

  2. Crude opens at the IFC Center in New York City on 09/09/09, followed shortly thereafter by L.A. & S.F., and then a handful of other markets across the U.S. In order for the film to gain real national distribution, it must nearly sell out in the key markets. Theaters all across the country will be watching to see how the film performs in the first few weeks to decide whether to bring it to their screen.

    Here’s the latest list of dates & theaters… go see CRUDE!

    September 9 – 22: New York, NY (IFC Center)
    September 18 – 24: Los Angeles (Landmark Nuart)
    September 25 – October 1: San Francisco, CA (Landmark Theaters)
    September 25 – October 1: Berkeley, CA (Landmark Theaters)
    September 25 – October 1: San Diego, CA (Landmark Theaters)
    October 7: Portland, OR: (Northwest Film Center)
    October 9 – 15: Philadelphia, PA (Landmark Ritz at Bourse)
    October 9 – 15: Austin, TX (Landmark Dobie)
    October 16 – 22: Santa Fe, NM (The Screen)
    October 16 – 22: Denver, CO (Landmark Theaters)
    October 18 & 19: Pleasantville, NY (Jacob Burns Film Center)
    October 20: Santa Barbara, CA (UCSB Arts and Lectures)
    October 23 – 29: Washington, DC (Landmark E Street)
    October 23 – 29: Seattle Washington (Landmark Varsity)
    November 5, 2009: Boulder, CO International Film Series
    November 6 – 8 & 13 – 14: Boston, MA (Museum of Fine Arts)
    November 6 – 12: Dallas, TX (Angelika Dallas)
    November 6 – 12: Houston, TX (Angelika Houston)
    November 13 – 19: Baltimore, MD (The Charles Theatre)
    November 13 – 19: Minneapolis, MN (Landmark Theaters)
    November 20 – 26: Hartford, CT (Real Artways)
    November 27 – December 3: Atlanta, GA (Plaza Theatre)
    November 27 – December 3: San Antonio, TX ( Bijou @ Crossroads)
    November 27 – December 3: Atlanta, GA (Plaza Theatre)

  3. There's no distribution outside the U.S. yet, but doing well on U.S. screens would go a long way toward convincing theaters in Canada and other countries to bring it to their screens (so tell your Yankee friends and Cannuck ex-pats living in the States to see it!).
    Disclaimer: I don't work for the filmmaker or the distributor but am in close contact with them as I am helping to promote the film. I work for Amazon Watch, whose efforts are highlighted in the film.
    Cheers!

  4. There’s no distribution outside the U.S. yet, but doing well on U.S. screens would go a long way toward convincing theaters in Canada and other countries to bring it to their screens (so tell your Yankee friends and Cannuck ex-pats living in the States to see it!).
    Disclaimer: I don’t work for the filmmaker or the distributor but am in close contact with them as I am helping to promote the film. I work for Amazon Watch, whose efforts are highlighted in the film.
    Cheers!

  5. Are there plans to bring this film to Phoenix, Arizona? We have a local theatre chain (one of the largest in Phx) that has been good in the past on showing human rights/social justice films.

  6. Are there plans to bring this film to Phoenix, Arizona? We have a local theatre chain (one of the largest in Phx) that has been good in the past on showing human rights/social justice films.

  7. I'd like to know why laws at every level of the legal system, local through international, have not been passed to make illegal the false information and lies pedaled like mind-altering drugs by these corporate "pushers" in defense of their product(s). There has to be some way to stop these huge corporations from using their billions in profits to lie to the public in order to maintain their status quo of enormous profits, power and influence. They are bulllies on the world "playground" whose "games" are being enabled by legal systems, governments and mainstream media. This is happening on all fronts because unsubstantiated, non-independently researched "facts" – lies – are legally permitted in product defense. We need truth, nothing but the truth, and if they're caught lying, the top echelon should go to prison, lose everything, and be forced to jump out of their position of power with their golden parachute peppered with holes. Their philosophy has been, 'Ethics, schmethics, the greater good be darned. It's all about me! I want more money, more power, more influence at any cost.' These people are literally commiting crimes against humanity and the environment, including genocide, and should be prosecuted for these, as well! Enough is enough!!!

  8. I’d like to know why laws at every level of the legal system, local through international, have not been passed to make illegal the false information and lies pedaled like mind-altering drugs by these corporate “pushers” in defense of their product(s). There has to be some way to stop these huge corporations from using their billions in profits to lie to the public in order to maintain their status quo of enormous profits, power and influence. They are bulllies on the world “playground” whose “games” are being enabled by legal systems, governments and mainstream media. This is happening on all fronts because unsubstantiated, non-independently researched “facts” – lies – are legally permitted in product defense. We need truth, nothing but the truth, and if they’re caught lying, the top echelon should go to prison, lose everything, and be forced to jump out of their position of power with their golden parachute peppered with holes. Their philosophy has been, ‘Ethics, schmethics, the greater good be darned. It’s all about me! I want more money, more power, more influence at any cost.’ These people are literally commiting crimes against humanity and the environment, including genocide, and should be prosecuted for these, as well! Enough is enough!!!