We're more than half-way through the fifth month of 2010. Can summer be far behind?...
The Joe Berlinger/Chevron/CRUDE raw footage-subpeona situation continues to resonate throughout the nonfiction community. An open letter of support for Berlinger, spearheaded by Patrick Creadon and Doug Blush - and supported by the IDA, was released on Wednesday and signed by nearly 200 folks in the documentary community. Oscar winner Errol Morris signed onto the letter on Thursday, along with another 200 people (as of Monday) in the comments section here and 40 on the IDA's website.
Bill Moyers and Michael Winship, who both signed the letter, wrote in an opinion piece that while all eyes are on the oil spill in the gulf, "there's another important story involving Big Oil and pollution -- one that shatters not only the environment but the essential First Amendment right of journalists to tell truth and shame the devil":
"Some of the issues and nuances of Berlinger's case are admittedly complex, but they all boil down to this: Chevron is trying to avoid responsibility and hopes to find in the unused footage -- material the filmmaker did not utilize in the final version of his documentary -- evidence helpful to the company in fending off potential damages of $27.3 billion.
This is a serious matter for reporters, filmmakers and frankly, everyone else. Tough, investigative reporting without fear or favor -- already under siege by severe cutbacks and the shutdown of newspapers and other media outlets -- is vital to the public awareness and understanding essential to a democracy. As Michael Moore put it, "The chilling effect of this is, [to] someone like me, if something like this is upheld, the next whistleblower at the next corporation is going to think twice about showing me some documents if that information has to be turned over to the corporation that they're working for.""
At the theatrical box office, it was more of the same that we've seen the past couple weeks. The Banksy/Shepard Fairey/Mr. Brainwash documentary EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP continued its stellar DIY run - taking in another $230K for an estimated cume-to-date of $1,284,000. That makes EXIT the third million-dollar-doc of 2010, following the success of Disneynature's OCEANS ($17.7M and counting, although now seemingly less likely to reach $20M) and Focus' BABIES, which declined a respectable 53% in its second weekend, still taking in just over $1M. BABIES is now just shy of $4M.