Crude (2009 film)

Crude (2009 film)

Film still
Directed by Joe Berlinger
Produced by Joe Berlinger
Michael Bonfiglio
J.R. DeLeon
Richard Stratton
Music by Wendy Blackstone
Cinematography Pocho Alvarez
Joe Berlinger
Michael Bonfiglio
Juan Diego Pérez
Editing by Alyse Ardell Spiegel
Distributed by Entendre Films
Radical Media
Red Envelope Entertainment
Third Eye Motion Picture
First Run Features
Release date(s) January 18, 2009 (2009-01-18) (Sundance)
Running time 100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Crude is a 2009 American documentary film directed and produced by Joe Berlinger.[1] It follows a two year portion of an ongoing class action lawsuit against the Chevron Corporation in Ecuador.



The film follows the progress during 2006 and 2007 of a $27 billion legal case brought against the Chevron Corporation following the drilling of the Lago Agrio oil field, a case also known as the “Amazon Chernobyl”.

The plaintiffs of the class action lawsuit are 30,000 Ecuadorians living in the Amazonian rainforest they claim has been polluted by the oil industry. In addition to the legal struggle, Crude shows interviews from both sides, and explores the influence of media support, celebrity activism, the power of multinational corporations, the shifting power in Ecuadorian politics, and rapidly-disappearing indigenous cultures on the case.

The film concludes with the prediction that the legal case will not be resolved for another decade or so.


  • Juan Diego Perez
  • Pocho Alvarez
  • Joe Berlinger (producer of Crude)
  • Michael Bonfiglio
  • Sting (activist, artist and co-founder of Rainforest Foundation Fund)
  • Trudie Styler (activist, producer, and co-founder of Rainforest Foundation Fund with her husband Sting)
  • Adolfo Callejas (Ecuadorian lawyer on behalf of Chevron-Texaco)
  • Steve Donziger (American lawyer on behalf of the plaintiffs)
  • Pablo Fajardo (Ecuadorian lawyer on behalf of the plaintiffs)
  • Diego Larrea (Ecuadorian Lawyer on behalf of Chevron-Texaco)
  • Rafael Correa (President of the Republic of Ecuador)
  • Sara McMillen (Chief Environmental Scientist for Chevron)
  • Ricardo Reis Veiga (Corporate counsel for Chevron Latin America)

Subpoena of footage

On May 6, 2010 federal judge Lewis Kaplan sided with a petition submitted by Chevron and ruled that Berlinger turn over more than 600 hours of original footage created throughout during the film's production. Chevron had sought to subpoena the footage as part of the ongoing lawsuit discussed in the film. Berlinger's legal team has maintained that the footage is protected by reporters' privilege and has indicated it intends to appeal the court's decision.[2]


Critical response

Crude has been reviewed in the New York Times,[3] in LA Weekly,[4] AlterNet,[5] and by Howard Zinn.[6]

As of 23 March 2010, the movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gave Crude a 95% "fresh" rating (100% for "top critics").



  • National Board of Review: Best Documentaries of the Year, 2009.
  • One World Media Awards: Best International Documentary, Joe Berlinger, 2009.
  • Independent Film Festival of Boston: Grand Jury Prize, Documentary, Joe Berlinger, 2009.
  • Yale Environmental Film Festival: Grand Jury Prize, Documentary, Joe Berlinger, 2009.
  • Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival: World Wildlife Fund Documentary Award, Joe Berlinger, 2009.
  • AFI Dallas International Film Festival: Current Energy Filmmaker Award, Joe Berlinger, 2009.
  • Big Sky Documentary Film Festival: Best Editing, Programmer's Choice, Joe Berlinger,[8] 2009.
  • Nashville Film Festival: Human Spirit Award, Joe Berlinger, 2009.
  • 27e Festival International du Film d’Environnement: Grand Prize, 2009.
  • Santa Cruz Film Festival: EarthVision Environmental Film Award, 2009.
  • Reel Earth Film Festival New Zealand: Reel Earth Award, International Features, 2009.
  • Mexico International Film Festival: Best Documentary Film, 2009.
  • Docúpolis International Documentary Film Festival: OFF Docúpolis Award, 2009.
  • Traverse City Film Festival: Special Jury Prize for Environmental Documentary, 2009.
  • Puerto Vallarta Film Festival: Elizabeth Taylor Humanitarian Award, 2009.
  • Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival: Lifetime Achievement Award in Documentary, 2009.
  • Red Nation Film Festival: Brando Award, 2009.
  • Jacksonville Film Festival: Shining Light Award, 2009.
  • Amazonas Film Festival: Audience Award, Documentary, 2009.
  • Cinema for Peace: International Green Film Award, 2010.


Crude premiered on January 18, 2009 at the Sundance Film Festival and had its theatrical premiere on September 9, 2009, at the IFC Center in New York City.[9] Many more cities and dates are scheduled as well.[10]

Film festivals (partial list)

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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