Where Was I?

I've been busy, that's where I've been. What's it to you?

Sorry. I thought you were a family member.

Joking aside, let me start by suggesting you catch Daddy Longlegs, of which I recently wrote this.

On a considerably more sober note, I'd like to draw your attention to the latest assault on documentary filmmakers by a genius on the federal courts. Or as the New York Times put it,

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of United States District Court in New York granted a petition by Chevron seeking a subpoena for more than 600 hours of footage shot by Mr. Berlinger for “Crude.” The film chronicles the Ecuadorians who sued Texaco (now owned by Chevron) saying that the operations at its oil field at Lago Agrio contaminated their water. Chevron has said that Mr. Berlinger’s footage could be helpful to the company as it seeks to have the litigation dismissed and pursues arbitration related to the lawsuit. (Full story is here.)

In other words, protections normally afforded to journalists under the First Amendment do not apply to documentarians functioning as journalists, and the "rights" of Chevron, notorious human-rights violators (see this, this and this)and environmental despoilers, take precedent. If you've ever seen The Corporation, the excellent Canadian documentary film directed by Mark Achbar and Jennfer Abbott, then you will understand the strange notion in Anglo-American law that a corporation is a "person" with the rights attendant thereto. (If you haven't, you can watch it at your computer here, if you don't mind sitting at the computer for three hours.)

At any rate, although Chevron are hardly the only corporation that makes its money by working closely with vicious dictators and destroyng rainforests, coastlines and the atmosphere, they are among the more egregious sinners. This court case sets a truly deadly precedent. I'll just refer you to some folks who can speak to the issue more eloquently than I, here, here and here.

And if you are a filmmaker, film journalist or just someone who has a concern for the truth, sign onto the letter in support of Joe Berlinger, buy a copy of Crude, and add Chevron to the list of companies whose products you wouldn't touch with surgical gloves and mask.

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