Saturday, June 10, 2023

Must Filmmaker Release Outtakes From Documentary?

Chevron asked a federal judge to order the release of outtakes from Joe Berlinger’s 2009 documentary, Crude, shot in Ecuador, saying the footage will exonerate the company in a multibillion trial in Ecuador. But an attorney for Berlinger and Third Eye Productions said that granting Chevron’s request would be a blow to the First Amendment. Berlinger is contesting Chevron’s request, arguing that he could never work as a documentary filmmaker again if his sources could not be guaranteed confidentiality. However, when asked if there were any confidentiality agreements signed, Berlinger’s attorney simply replied that confidentialiy agreements are “never put in writing.”

However, Chevron attorney Randy Mastro argues that there are film clips which would show that Chevron was denied due process in Ecuador. Mastro showed scenes in court which he said showed that attorneys representing the plaintiffs in Ecuador engaged in misconduct, “doing things that no attorney would do.”

Chevron claims it faces a baseless lawsuit in Ecuador, financed by the U.S. law firm Kohn, Swift and Graf, which is looking for a $27 billion payday for itself and its clients, Ecuadoran nongovernmental organizations.

Berlinger’s other films include “Paradise Lost” and “Metallica: Some Kind of Monster.” Courthouse News Service has more here.

UPDATE: May 6, 2010

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of United States District Court granted a petition by Chevron to issue a subpoena for hundreds of hours of footage from a documentary about the pollution of the Amazon rainforests of Ecuador and the oil company’s involvement. Via NY Times.


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