What is the real price of our oil dependence? Joe Berlinger's provocative documentary examines the ongoing legal battle around the Amazon Chernobyl case, in which 30,000 indigenous Ecuadorean peasants brought a class-action suit against Texaco for allegedly dumping billions of gallons of toxic waste into their river basin and landed their story on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.
Berlingers exposé takes us to the heart of the ancient Cofán nation, where lack of clean drinking water and an epidemic of cancer has caused untold misery for Indian natives. Leading the David and Goliath legal case are local advocate Pablo Fajardo and Manhattan legal expert Steve Donziger, whose heroic efforts to make Texaco (now Chevron) clean up the spill and take responsibility for the poisoning of ancestral rainforest form the dramatic centerpiece of the film. At one point, they recruit Sting's wife Trudi Styler (a longtime eco-activist) to organize a benefit concert and draw media interest in their story. With the case still in limbo, "Crude" remains as timely a piece of reportage as an evening newscast.