Two new documentaries—‘Crude’ and ‘Fuel’  

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Gist has reviews of 2 new movies about the oil industry - "Crude" and "Fuel" - Two new documentaries—‘Crude’ and ‘Fuel’—examine two sides of our petroleum problem.

Two new documentaries show the damaging effects of the world’s addiction to oil, each film from its own unique angle. Crude, which opened in New York on Sept. 9, traces the story of a lawsuit brought by 30,000 rural Ecuadorians against Chevron, which denies responsibility for turning their traditional rainforest home into a dumping ground for crude oil waste, sickening and killing generations of people. And Fuel, which opened in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 18, follows director Josh Tickell on his quest to convert the world to biofuels, eliminating the need for oil and thus—hopefully—for lawsuits like the one in Ecuador.

oily water in CrudeOil pollutes the water sources of the Ecuadorians in Crude.Both films succeed in engaging viewers with compelling characters and stories—from the chipper Tickell driving his sunflower-painted, biodiesel-fueled Veggie Van across the country, to the earnest and dogged Ecuadorian lawyer Pablo Fajardo visiting the grave of his murdered brother. And both expose the utter stupidity and reality-denial of Big Oil, an industry unafraid to trample anything or anyone blocking its path to profit, even as the product still driving those profits grows ever more obviously obsolete.

“It’s overly simplistic to say these are greedy companies who want to make money at all costs,” Joe Berlinger, who directed Crude, told me on the phone the day after his film’s New York release. (His previous work includes Metallica: Some Kind of Monster). “But there’s an institutional blindness to the impact of their activities on other parts of the world.”

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