[Marxism] "Crude" director responds to Chevron

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Sep 11 15:30:59 MDT 2009

In the September 9 Reuters news story “Is Chevron Scared of ‘Crude’ The 
Chevron spokesperson Kent Robertson criticizes the award-winning new 
film Crude on the day of its theatrical premiere, calling it “long on 
emotion and short on facts.” Crude director Joe Berlinger responds to 
the allegations:

“I find Kent Robertson’s comments about Crude to be extremely troubling, 
given the fact that he has yet to see the film. I have made multiple 
offers to screen the film for Mr. Robertson and his colleagues at 
Chevron, and my offers have been declined. Just last week, he told me 
that the company sees ‘no meaningful value’ in having a private 
screening, but they would ‘simply wait until the film hits [their] local 
theatres.’ Since Crude opened in New York on the same day the 
California-based Mr. Robertson made his comments to Reuters, I would be 
surprised if he has seen it, which makes me wonder why he is attacking 
the film.”

“The comment that Crude is ‘short on facts’ is outlandish. The film goes 
to great lengths to give as much attention to the positions of each of 
the opposing parties in this landmark case as is possible in a feature 
length documentary. Stephen Holden of the New York Times – among other 
prominent critics – specifically cited this quality, saying, ‘rarely 
have such conflicts been examined with the depth and power of Crude.’ 
Perhaps the ‘facts’ that Mr. Robertson is referring to are not the 
talking points that his company has been working so hard to inject into 
the news cycle in the days leading up to Crude’s release.”

“While Crude attempts to present both sides of the legal case, it 
concerns me that Mr. Robertson continues to criticize the film’s 
presentation of the story by obfuscating the accusations against his 
company. Mr. Robertson told Reuters, ‘If you're seeing fresh oil today 
... how can that be the responsibility of a company that stopped 
operating in 1990?’ The systems and infrastructure that the plaintiffs 
say dumped billions of gallons of oil and toxic waste products into the 
Amazon rainforest in Ecuador were designed, built and operated for 
decades solely by Texaco (which merged with Chevron in 2001), according 
to the suit. Although the operation was later taken over by 
PetroEcuador, it is the theory of the plaintiffs’ case that Chevron is 
responsible not only for the past pollution, but the current pollution 
as well, because they turned over a faulty system to the current 
operator. To ignore this would be to miss a key point in the story 
examined in Crude.  While Mr. Robertson is not an attorney, he is surely 
aware of this major detail in the case against the company, which has 
now been going on for sixteen years.”

An e-mail from Mr. Berlinger to Mr. Robertson asking him to clarify his 
comments regarding the film’s omissions has gone unanswered.

Crude is now playing in New York at the IFC Center. The film opens in 
Los Angeles on September 18, and expands nationwide throughout the fall.

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