Court Orders Documentary Filmmaker to Turn Over Raw Film Footage to Chevron

May 6, 2010

NEW YORK, May 6 /PRNewswire/ — A federal district court judge today ordered Joe Berlinger, an award-winning documentary filmmaker (BROTHER’S KEEPER, PARADISE LOST, METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER), to turn over more than 600 hours of raw film footage to Chevron Corporation.

Chevron had asked the court on April 9th to order production of outtakes from Berlinger’s documentary film Crude. That film reports on an environmental catastrophe in the Amazon rainforest, and the fierce litigation that has ensued between the indigenous people affected by the damage and Chevron, the US corporation allegedly responsible for the harm. Crude debuted at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2009, was released in theaters in fall 2009, and is currently available on DVD from First Run Features and Netflix.

Chevron and its lawyers hope to mine the footage for material to use in their defense of this decades-long environmental lawsuit brought in Ecuadorean courts. The court rejected Berlinger’s attempt to protect his sources and his editorial process from this intrusion, and is allowing Chevron to sift through hours of raw footage.

“Today’s extremely broad decision will cause grave harm to journalists, investigative reporters and documentary filmmakers,” said Maura Wogan of Frankfurt Kurnit, the lawyers for Mr. Berlinger and his production company. “The court has shown an unprecedented lack of sensitivity to the journalist’s privilege and the First Amendment.”

“We will appeal today’s unfortunate decision,” said Berlinger. “The filming and production of Crude - which presents both sides of this compelling and important story – is precisely the type of investigative journalism that the First Amendment was designed to protect.”

For a copy of the decision and Mr. Berlinger’s legal papers, visit www.fkks.com.

About Frankfurt Kurnit

Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz celebrates more than 30 years as a leading media, entertainment, advertising, and technology law firm. The firm has handled many significant First Amendment and intellectual property litigations in the entertainment, publishing, marketing, and licensing fields.

About Joe Berlinger

Joe Berlinger is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist and photographer. His films include the landmark documentaries BROTHER’S KEEPER, PARADISE LOST: THE CHILD MURDERS AT ROBIN HOOD HILLS, and METALLICA: SOME KIND OF MONSTER. His most recent film, the multi-award-winning CRUDE, debuted at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and has received numerous accolades including being named one of the Top Five Documentaries of the Year by the National Board of Review and Best International Green Film at Berlin’s prestigious Cinema For Peace. Berlinger has also directed and produced numerous hours of television, including the Emmy-winning 10 DAYS THAT UNEXPECTEDLY CHANGED AMERICA and the critically acclaimed Sundance Channel series ICONOCLASTS, now entering its fifth season. Berlinger is currently directing a new series called Masterclass for Oprah Winfrey’s new television network and developing two narrative feature films which he plans to produce and direct: EDUCATION OF A FELON about the life of cult prison novelist Edward Bunker; and FACING THE WIND, based on Julie Salamon’s bestselling nonfiction book of the same name.

SOURCE Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz

Source: newswire

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