03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Movie Chevron Doesn't Want You to See

Para una version de esta nota en espanol: Crudo, La Pelicula que Chevron no quiere que usted vea

Like most of his friends and neighbors in the Amazon village where he was born, Pablo Fajardo went to work for Texaco at an early age. But unlike most of his coworkers, he was unwilling to disregard the flagrant abuses of the land and people that he witnessed every day on the job.

He made up his mind to become a lawyer, and now he's the lead attorney representing 30,000 Amazonian citizens in a class-action suit that is now entering its 15th year. It's that battle that's at the heart of Joe Berlinger's stunning new documentary, "Crude."


I'd already read the infuriating story of Chevron-Texaco's contamination of millions of acres of Amazonian rainforest, and one man's battle to bring them to justice, in Vanity Fair's May 2007 Green Edition. But Berlinger's film brings this story to life in a way that written words cannot. CNN's Christiane Amanpour calls the movie "an extraordinary merging of journalism and art." I couldn't have said it better myself.

The movie opened on Friday in Houston, the home base of Texaco, now Chevron, and I joined the Emerging Green Builders group in watching the Houston premiere. Scenes of the movie were filmed at the Chevron building just ten blocks from where we sat, as Fajardo and an indigenous family braced themselves to go inside and present their case.

Perhaps the most poignant scenes in the movie were statements from the indignant Chevron spokespeople, insisting on the company's innocence, as images of oil-coated streams, dying animals and cancerous children play out on the screen.

"You have been in our territory for 28 years; now I ask just three minutes of your time," the tribesman said to his adversaries in Houston.

Now I ask three minutes of your time to watch the trailer ... and then I think you'll agree that this movie belongs on your must-see list. For more information on this case, see and