NEW ORLEANS (CN) - "The Big Fix," a documentary about the BP oil spill, received a standing ovation from a full house here at its North American premier. The film traces the origins of BP, through its support for a CIA-backed coup against a progressive prime minister in Iran in 1953, to the lingering effects of the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.
The husband-and-wife directors of the film spoke with Courthouse News in the shade of a French Quarter courtyard. Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell's previous documentary, "Fuel," came out in 2009.
The new film credits Peter Fonda and Tim Robbins as executive producers; Fonda also appears in the movie.
"It isn't now nor has it ever been our intention to put anyone out of work, or take anyone's job away," Josh Tickell said. "It is only our intention to tell the truth."
"The Big Fix" opens with archived footage of the origins of the British Petroleum company and its operations in Iran. It also traces events that led up to the 1935 assassination of Louisiana Gov. Huey Long, who briefly stood up to the oil industry.
Then the movie ventures into more recent times, including the 2000 rebranding of the oil giant as the environmentally friendly "Beyond Petroleum," its much-criticized safety record and several disasters, including the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion that killed 15 and injured hundreds.
The documentary claims that the April 2010 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon rig that set off the worst oil spill in U.S. history would not have happened but for BP's corporate climate of carelessness and putting profits before safety.
The Friday-night premier was followed by a panel of people who appear in the film, including Hugh Kaufman, a senior policy analyst with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Kaufman blew the whistle on environmental violations after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, and said he always has opposed use of the dispersant Corexit in the Gulf of Mexico.
Also on the panel was Dean Blanchard, who owns the largest shrimping business in Louisiana.
Though waters have been reopened to shrimping and fishing, Blanchard said his liability insurance carrier has canceled his insurance, so if someone gets sick from chemicals in the seafood he sells, he will be liable.
During the panel, Josh Tickell recapped key points of "The Big Fix": Corexit is still being sprayed, oil is still leaking from the Macondo well into the Gulf of Mexico, and the toxic mix of oil and chemical dispersants continue to have dire impacts on human health, the environment and fish.
"We can say all day long that this is BP's responsibility, but the truth is we're all in this together. I invite you to look at this as your responsibility," Tickell said. "At the end of the day, it is our children who will inherit these estuaries."
While filming in waters reopened to fishing and shrimping, Harrell Tickell developed a rash and blisters on her chest where her skin was exposed to the air. She developed chemical pneumonia and suffered from continuing respiratory infections.
In "The Big Fix," Harrell Tickell goes to an Alabama doctor with her ailments. The doctor identifies her condition as oil-spill related, and says that he too suffered respiratory illnesses from the oil and dispersants in the air.