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Movie Review: CRUDE

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CRUDE, an inspiring new film about Chevron’s $27 billion lawsuit in Ecuador, by award-winning filmmaker, Joe Berlinger, opened to a welcoming crowd in Los Angeles and in various cities throughout the nation, with an astonishing opening in San Francisco earlier this week. From San Francisco, to New Orleans, Brooklyn and beyond, the eye opening documentary is waking up the world (for a complete list of screenings, please jump here). CRUDE was an official selection of the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 and has gone on to screen at several other festivals.

Earlier this month, CRUDE came to Hollywood and blew away audiences into action! The Hollywood premiere was a sold-out benefit screening for Amazon Watch at the Harmony Gold Theater in Hollywood. Over 350 supporters, including Sean Penn, Isla Fisher, Stuart Townsend, Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World), Armand Assante, Billy Wirth, Rosanna Arquette, Jeffrey Donovan (“Burn Notice”), and other celebrities came out to show their support. Rather than the standard red carpet, the event rolled out a black carpet and then a staged oil spill at the entrance. Guests then were encouraged to dip their hands in black paint and stamp a hand print in support of bringing justice to Ecuador.

Atossa Soltani and Executive Director of Amazon Watch and filmmaker, Joe Berlinger, opened the screening by making it clear that CRUDE is not an environmental film, rather a corporate responsibility film. It remarkably shows how an environmental issues are human issues. The filmmakers take us on a journey of struggle, conflict, humor and hope as we learn about the oil development in the Amazon Rainforest in Ecuador and how it has affected the communities who live there. As someone who has spent time and lived in Ecuador, I believe that Berlinger does an excellent job balancing the sides of the issue of the landmark lawsuit while hitting home the need for companies to take responsibility for their actions. From a young woman who has cancer as a result of the contamination to the David and Golliath nature of the lawsuit, Berlinger is clear to capture all sides.

One of the best aspects of the film’s momentum overall is that audiences have the opportunity to participate in Amazon Watch’s “ChevronToxico” campaign, to support the demands of indigenous and farming communities affected by the operations of Texaco (now Chevron) in the Ecuadorian Amazon. As stated on their site, “Amazon Watch works to protect the rainforest and advance the rights of indigenous peoples in the Amazon Basin. We partner with indigenous and environmental organizations in campaigns for human rights, corporate accountability and the preservation of the Amazon’s ecological systems. Amazon Watch’s Clean Up Ecuador Campaign has been providing critical support to the affected communities in their pursuit of justice and environment cleanup.”

For those of you who are not familiar with the case, I encourage you to see it to learn about what is happening in Ecuador. For those of you who are well versed in this topic, I encourage you to see it for everything that this film brings to the conversation.

For more on CRUDE, please visit the official movie site here.

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