MANHATTAN (CN) – Chevron must wait at least another month before it can receive the 600 hours of outtakes from the documentary “Crude,” the 2nd Circuit ruled Tuesday.
Chevron won a subpoena in May to look at the “Crude” footage, but the film’s director, Joseph Berlinger, is appealing that decision.
A three-judge panel on Tuesday stayed the release of the outtakes pending Berlinger’s appeal. Chevron hopes the outtakes will prove that due process was violated in Ecuador, where it is being sued for $27 billion.
Berlinger obtained intimate access to the class action against Chevron in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, while filming “Crude,” a 2009 documentary that shows how oil production has devastated the Amazon rainforest.
Chevron claims Berlinger may have captured misconduct on the part of the lawyers suing Chevron. Because two of its attorneys might be indicted on criminal charges in Ecuador for representing the oil giant, Chevron says it is critical that Berlinger release the outtakes.
The footage could also help Chevron in an international treaty arbitration in which it is arguing that the Lago Agrio trial is an abuse of the criminal justice system and violates the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law and the Bilateral Investment Treaty between the United States and Ecuador.
Though U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan granted Chevron’s request for the footage, Berlinger claims releasing the unedited footage violates his journalistic privilege.
“We think Judge Kaplan’s decision was overly broad, and we’re delighted that we’ll have an opportunity to present our case,” Berlinger said in an interview.
Chevron attorney Randy Mastro says an expedited schedule will allow the appeals court to quickly hear arguments and ultimately “affirm Judge Kaplan’s well-reasoned decision.”
“These are nonconfidential outtakes involving people who went on screen and wanted their story told,” Mastro said in an interview. “The appellate court will have to weigh the balance of a director’s desire to withhold nonconfidential outtakes versus the compelling and urgent need that Chevron and two Chevron attorneys have for these outtakes.”
Trudie Styler, who is married to the musician Sting, was in the courtroom Monday to support Berlinger. Styler and Sting are featured in “Crude.”
Other celebrities who were not in the film, including documentary filmmaker Michael Moore, have also shown their support for Berlinger. The International Documentary Association, on behalf of 200 filmmakers, including Moore, D.A. Pennebaker and Morgan Spurlock, sent an open letter to the court in May protesting Kaplan’s decision.