Celebrities such as Daryl Hannah and Q’Orianka Kilcher, and international NGOs such as Amazon Watch have dropped their support for the 2007 Artivist Film Festival after it was revealed the event organizers accepted sponsorship money from a protested oil firm.
Under attack is the company Petrobras — Brazil’s state-owned oil company. Apparently, the firm has regularly drilled in pristine areas of the Amazon rainforest, including within the territories of uncontacted indigenous peoples. Artivist announced that Petrobras would be a “presenting sponsor” last week and was quickly slammed by environmental groups for accepting the funds. Apparently, the oil giant is planning on drilling in Yasuni National Park, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and one of the Amazon’s most biodiverse parks.
Ironically, a film called Justice Now — which explores ChevronTexaco’s toxic legacy in the Northern Ecuadorian region of the Amazon rainforest — was to have premiered this weekend at the festival. Director Martin O’Brien quickly pulled the documentary and along with his two stars — Hannah and Kilcher — appealed to Artivist to return all funds from Petrobras and formally announce the severing of ties with the company. Artivist refused.
As a result, the screening of Justice Now will be moved to an independent location at the Raleigh Studios in Hollywood on Saturday, November 10th at 6:30pm. The screening is free, but the group is accepting donations.
An odd move for Artivist. For an organization that honors individuals and groups for their commitments to making the world a better place, they’re certainly not leading by example. There was a mistake in screening this sponsor for sure, but is it that hard to admit it and do the right thing?