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A classic but as-yet-unfinished David-and-Goliath story, Crude documents the battle between indigenous Ecuadorian communities, represented by two attorneys, and the giant multinational Chevron corporation with annual revenue of $US200 billion. Under dispute is Chevron's part in one of the world's greatest environmental catastrophes. Sometimes described as "The Amazon's Chernobyl"- the contamination in this case isn't nuclear, but oil and the by-products of drilling. Pablo Fajardo, a young attorney who grew up in poverty in the Amazon, and free-lance attorney Steve Donziger claim that over three decades Texaco, which merged with Chevron in 2001, systematically polluted one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth, poisoning the water, air and land and leaving a toxic legacy that manifests as increased rates of cancer, leukemia, birth defects, and a multiplicity of other health ailments, and in the process destroying the cultures and ways of life of the indigenous and colonial communities. Predictably, Chevron denies everything, claims it's a fabrication and blames state-run PetroEcuador for any problems. After 10 years of legal wrangling, Chevron managed to get the suit transferred to Ecuador, where the documentary takes up the story as the antagonists battle bitterly. Filmed in true documentary style, with both sides given ample opportunity to state their cases, Crude is a deeply moving, gripping film likely to evoke strong emotions and vigorous debate. One of the festival's top films.

1hr 44mins long

Joe Berlinger