Friday, February 6, 2009

Director of Crude Points Out Lies

Interesting letter to the editor in today's Washington Times. Apparently filmmaker Joe Berlinger wasn't thrilled with Chevron's misinformation about the production of the documentary. Read on:

In his article about the ongoing legal battle against Chevron Corp. in the Ecuadorean Amazon ("Chevron urges U.S. to revoke Ecuador trade," Nation, Thursday), Tom LoBianco mentions that Chevron "has been bombarded with negative stories surrounding the lawsuit and is the target of a new documentary produced in part by the plaintiffs in the lawsuit." I assume that the documentary Mr. LoBianco refers to is my film "Crude," which premiered to great critical acclaim at the Sundance Film Festival last month. Contrary to your article, "Crude" was in no way produced by the plaintiffs or anyone affiliated with either side of the lawsuit. The film is a wholly independent production and was made with the cooperation of representatives of both the plaintiffs and Chevron, including Kent Robertson, the Chevron spokesperson quoted in Mr. LoBianco's article. In fact, I invited Kent Robertson to participate in the film's premiere in Park City, Utah - which was attended by the festival's founder, Robert Redford - but Mr. Robertson declined my invitation.

Making "Crude" was an intense, often grueling three-year process, and we worked extremely hard to ensure that the film presents an accurate portrayal of this highly controversial and complicated case. Following the screenings at Sundance, the film was widely praised by critics and journalists not only for its artistic merits, but also for its editorial balance and fairness to all sides of the lawsuit. For example, James Nelson of Agence France-Presse wrote, "Berlinger clearly knows about balance in covering an important issue." David Germain of Associated Press calls the film "a fairly balanced portrait of the case, with Chevron's side well represented."

To my knowledge, Mr. LoBianco has not yet seen the film, so his characterization of the film as a partisan attack on Chevron is troubling and makes me wonder where his information is coming from. Unlike my film, the writer of your article did not seem to think it was important to either see the film or to research the false claim of the film's partiality.


Director/producer, "Crude"

Hmmm. Looks like the Washington Times has egg on their face on this one. I bet they're not super thrilled with the Chevron PR guys right about now - looks like they trusted what this "Kent Robertson" told them about the production of the film and then they got burned.
I guess that's one newspaper that won't be rushing to do Chevron any favors anytime soon.