Federal Court Orders "Crude" Director to Turn Over His Footage to Chevron - Filmmakers Rally in Support

One quick one for documentary fans, lovers of free expression, and (indirectly) anyone angry with oil companies: The Wrap reminds us that the director of the documentary "Crude" Joe Berlinger has be ordered by a New York federal court to turn over his raw footage from the project to Chevron.

Berlinger's film...chronicles the protracted legal struggle between 30,000 indigenous people and Chevron over the environmental damage. That group is currently seeking $27 billion in damages in an Ecuadorian court. 

Chevron maintains that footage cut from the final film shows the plaintiffs' lawyers engaging in misconduct that undermines their case.

Rallying to Berlinger's aid are dozens of top documentarians, who have sent a letter of support urging the court of to overturn the decision of Judge Lewis Kaplan.

The letter acknowledges that even with First Amendment protections, Berlinger may have to turn over some footage. The big objection is being forced to turn over all 600 hours of raw footage.

At the heart of journalism lies the trust between the interviewer and his or her subject. If witnesses sense that their entire interviews will be scrutinized by attorneys and examined in courtrooms they will undoubtedly speak less freely. This ruling surely will have a crippling effect on the work of investigative journalists everywhere, should it stand.

Signing the letter are over 20 Academy Award winners, including the household names of Bill Moyers, Michael Moore and Ken Burns.

Read more: The Wrap

More on the film: CRUDE: A Joe Berlinger Film
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More on Documentaries:
Director Joe Berlinger on "Crude" and the Amazonian Chernobyl
5 Documentaries You Must See to Understand the Water Crisis
Radiant City: A Documentary About Suburban Sprawl

Tags: Documentaries | Energy | Oil