The makers of the award-winning documentary CRUDE, which chronicles the inside story of the largest and most controversial environmental lawsuit on the planet--a 17-year, $27 billion struggle between 30,000 Ecuadorean rainforest dwellers and Chevron--are currently embroiled in a legal battle with Chevron, who has subpoenaed the CRUDE filmmakers and the nearly 600 hours of raw footage accumulated during the production. Our attorneys at Frankfurt Kurnit have argued that our footage is protected by the journalist's privilege, and forcing us to hand it over to any third party (either Chevron, the plaintiffs' lawyers, or anyone else) is a violation of our First Amendment rights.
On May 6th, a US District Court ruled in Chevron's favor, creating a frightening precedent that we and many of our esteemed colleagues--from Bill Moyers to Michael Moore--agree will have a chilling effect on investigative journalism and documentary filmmaking as we know it. In an effort to protect the footage, his sources, and his process, Berlinger immediately appealed, and on June 8th, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Berlinger will be awarded a full hearing in July on his appeal. As a result, the District Court’s May 20th order directing Berlinger to produce the footage will be suspended during the pendency of the appeal.
As the battle to defend our First Amendment rights presses on, our mounting legal fees are extraordinarily costly. As the third-largest corporation in America, Chevron has far more financial resources at its disposal than we do. We have set up this Kickstarter page as a way for our supporters to help us raise funds for our defense against Chevron and stand up in favor of the future of documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism.
Please donate whatever you can and pass this link on to others who may be interested in supporting the cause. Any financial support you can provide will be greatly appreciated, not just by us, but surely by numerous journalists and documentary filmmakers around the world who have voiced their support for our cause. If we fail to prevail in this case it will undoubtedly set a frightening precedent for the future of journalism and documentary filmmaking.
For those of you who have reached out to us through www.crudethemovie.com asking what you can do to help, this is it. CRUDE's Director/Producer Joe Berlinger has contributed a significant amount of his personal funds towards this case, but now we need to raise substantial additional funds for the appeals process. With your pledge, you can play an active role and make a very real difference in what has quite rapidly spiraled into an historic battle for the freedom of the press, the protection of the journalist, and the foundation of documentary film.
We hope you will help us put up a good fight.
-Joe Berlinger & Team CRUDE
*Recent Articles on the case include:
-Brent Lang's "Court Grants Stay for 'Crude' Director" (http://www.thewrap.com/article/new-york-court-grants-stay-crude-director-18143)
-KCRW Interview w/ Joe Berlinger http://www.kcrw.com/etc/programs/pc/pc100608joe_berlingers_crude
-Norman Lear's "Was Oil Named 'Crude' Because of the Way Oil Compaies Do Business?" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norman-lear/was-oil-named-crude-becau_b_604741.html)
-David Folkenfilk's "A 'Crude' Awakening: Chevron vs. the Documentarian" (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php...)
-Robert Redford's "Joe Berlinger vs. Chevron: Why We Must All Defend Independent Filmmaking" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-redford/joe-berlinger-vs-chevron_b_600433.html)
-Ted Johnson's "New Twist in 'Crude' Suit" http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118020196.html...
-Dave Itzkoff's "Media Companies File Brief on Behalf of Filmmaker in Chevron Case" (http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/02/media-companies-file-brief-on-behalf-of-filmmaker-in-chevron-case/)
-LA Times Editorial "Chevron Sues Over 'Crude': A Documentary's Unused Footage, Akin to Reporters' Notes, Should be Protected"
-Bill Moyers' & Michael Winship's "Chevron's 'Crude' Attempt to Suppress Free Speech"
-John Shwartz & Dave Itzkoff's "Should a Documentary Filmmaker Get a Journalist's Privilege?"
-Dave Itzkoff's "Oscar Winners Back Filmmaker in Dispute With Chevron"
*For more articles on the case, please visit http://www.crudethemovie.com/crude-blog/
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