Films on Cover-ups

See also:

Films on Exposés

Films on Whistleblowers

War on Whistleblowers:
Free Press and the National Security State

Documentary 2013 NR 1hr 6m. This documentary highlights four cases in which whistleblowers exposed government wrongdoing to the media and faced serious repercussions. Eye-opening, frank, and disturbing, this film is a must watch. This is a very good documentary and is a fraction of what is really going on in our government. The people of this country need to stand up and say NO MORE and start fighting for your rights before they are gone. See Full Review

All the President’s Men

Docudrama 1976 PG 139 minutes. The film that launched a thousand journalism school students, All the President’s Men chronicles how the work of reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) contributed to the public downfall of President Richard M. Nixon. The duo connected a Washington, D.C., hotel break-in with a Nixon “dirty tricks” team assigned to discredit Democratic rivals, launching a series of tense events that forced Nixon to resign. This story of the exposure of the Watergate break-in and subsequent COVERUP by two Washington Post reporters focuses attention on the inves­tigative journalism that has done so much to make Americans skeptical and even cynical about their nation’s institutions. See Full Review

TWA: Flight 800

Documentary 2013 PG-13 1hr 31m. This provocative documentary examines the fate of TWA Flight 800 to Paris, France, which exploded in 1996 just minutes after takeoff from New York, and includes interviews with official investigators who claim that the catastrophe was no accident. See Full Review

The Tillman Story

Documentary 2010 R 95 minutes. Pat Tillman’s family comes forward to tell the real story about what happened on April 22, 2004, in Afghanistan when the pro football player-turned-U.S. soldier was killed by friendly fire and not the Taliban, as first reported. Amir Bar-Lev’s documentary pieces together the Tillmans’ search for the truth, how they exposed a military cover-up that led to top-ranking officers and called to the carpet the likes of Donald Rumsfeld.See Full Review

Big Boys Gone Bananas!*

Documentary 2011 NR. 1hr 42m. Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is the follow-up to the 2009 film titled simply BANANAS!*, the true story about a Swedish filmmaker and a banana corporation. This fascinating new documentary follows the battle between the Swedish filmmakers and the fruit giant Dole Food Company, which conducted a legal and publicity campaign against the filmmakers to prevent the showing of their first film about a lawsuit won in Los Angeles against the company for its use of banned pesticides in Nicaragua that make field workers sterile. What is a big corporation capable of in order to protect its brand? Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten’s experienced this recently: dirty tricks, lawsuits, manipulation, at the price of free speech.  This film is a must-watch (even if you haven’t seen the original film BANANAS!*) about just how powerful multi-national corporations are, and how the media continues to fail the public or worse than that, deceive and lull us into complacency. American media has been corrupted by corporate power through corporate ownership, corporate advertising, and global corporations who threaten to pull advertising if investigative journalism displeases them. In 1998 the Cincinatti Enquirer did an expose of hometown Chiquita Corp. similar to Gertten’s BANANAS!*, but Chiquita forced them to scrub the story, fire the two reporters, pay $15 million to Chiquita, and run a headline apologizing to Chiquita. Shame on you Dole. This Big Boys Gone Bananas!* is a David vs. Goliath, showing filmmaker Gertten fighting for the right of documentary filmmakers to do what they feel is right, and that is to expose bad practices of big corporations. Unfortunately Goliath always has more money because the big corporations targeted have deep pockets to file lawsuits, in this case to sue to keep the film from being seen. Dole has 75,000 employees in 90 countries, and earns seven billion dollars a year, making them the biggest food company in the world. “So the stage is set. In one corner, Dole the largest producer of fruits and vegetables in the world, fortified with high-priced attorneys and spin-doctors. In the other corner, a Swedish independent filmmaker, armed with his conviction of what is right. What are the odds he’ll win?”  See Full Review

Bananas!*

Documentary 2009 NR 87 minutes. Nicaraguan laborers are paying a high price health-wise while working to get cheap bananas onto the world’s tables, and Southern California personal injury lawyer Juan Dominguez has decided to do something about it. This film tells his story. Swedish director Fredrik Gertten follows Dominguez as he takes on corporate giants Dole Food and Dow Chemical on behalf of 10,000 banana workers made ill by a pesticide used in Nicaraguan plantations years after it was banned in the States. This 2009 film titled BANANAS!* was followed by a sequel film two years later in 2011 titled Big Boys Gone Bananas!*

Silkwood

Docudrama 1983 R 131 minutes. While working at an Oklahoma nuclear power plant, Karen Silkwood (Meryl Streep) becomes exposed to radiation. When the official investigation is tampered with, Karen conducts her own inquiry, but she disappears under suspicious circumstances before its completion. Kurt Russell co-stars in this fact-based drama, which was nominated for multiple Oscars and earned Cher a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe for her minimalist performance.

Fair Game

Docudrama 2010 PG-13 108 minutes. After her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Sean Penn), writes op-ed columns accusing the Bush administration of misleading the public to justify invading Iraq, Valerie Plame Wilson’s (Naomi Watts) status as a covert CIA agent is leaked by administration officials. Based on events described in Plame Wilson’s memoir, this drama explores the political scandal that led to the conviction of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

The World According to Monsanto
(Le Monde Selon Monsanto)

Documentary 2008. Directed by Marie-Monique Robin. Originally released in French, the film is based on Robin’s three-year long investigation into the US agricultural giant Monsantocorporation’s practices around the world. The World According to Monsanto is also a book written by Marie-Monique Robin winner of the Rachel Carson Prize (a Norwegian prize for female environmentalists).See Full Review

Semper Fi: Always Faithful

Documentary 2011 NR 76 minutes. This wrenching documentary follows Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, who lost his daughter to a rare leukemia, as he reveals how the Marine Corps has betrayed its soldiers and their families by exposing them to toxic water at a base in North Carolina.

GasLand

Documentary 2010 NR 107 minutes. In this Oscar-nominated documentary, director Josh Fox journeys across America to examine the negative effects of natural-gas drilling, from poisoned water sources to kitchen sinks that burst into flames to unhealthy animals and people. See Full Review

The Battle of Chernobyl

Documentary 2005. Analyzes the Thursday 26th April 1986 that became a momentous date in modern history, when one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power station in northern Ukraine, exploded. It was the most significant reactor failure in the history of nuclear power, a Maximum Credible Accident (MCA). The plant, just 20 km away from the town center, was made up of four reactor units each generating an output of 1,000 megawatts. The reactor in question exploded due to operational errors and inadequate safety measures and the meltdown was directly linked to routine testing on the reactor unit’s turbine generators. The test required reactor activity and the thermal reactor output to be run down to a lower level. During the procedure, however, the reactor plummeted to an unexpectedly low and unstable level of activity. At this point, it should have been shut down; as the operators chose to continue with the test, the events subsequently proved to be catastrophic. More than 200 people died or were seriously injured by radiation exposure immediately after the explosion. 161,000 people had to be evacuated from a 30 kilometer radius of the reactor and 25,000 square km of land were contaminated. As time went on millions of people suffered radiation related health problems such as leukemia and thyroid cancer and around 4,000 people have died as a result of the long-term effects of the accident. Nobody was prepared for such a crisis. For the next seven months, 500,000 men will wage hand-to-hand combat with an invisible enemy – a ruthless battle that has gone unsung, which claimed thousands of unnamed and now almost forgotten heroes. Yet, it is thanks to these men that the worst was avoided; a second explosion, ten times more powerful than Hiroshima which would have wiped out more than half of Europe. This was kept secret for twenty years by the Soviets and the West alike. The total number of people killed and disabled by Chernobyl was never realized because of a COVERUP by the soviets. See Full Review

The Panama Deception

Documentary 1992 NR 91 minutes. Filmmakers Barbara Trent and David Kasper explain the untold truths behind the United States’ 1989 invasion of Panama in this hard-hitting documentary that illuminates the complex relationship between Gen. Manuel Noriega and the U.S. government. Juxtaposing interviews with experts and eyewitnesses with historical media reports, the film shows how the press helped win the American public’s approval despite widespread condemnation abroad.See Full Review

The Whistleblower

Docudrama 2010 R 112 minutes. Sent to Bosnia to train cops in the aftermath of that country’s brutal civil war, American policewoman Kathryn Bolkovac (Rachel Weisz) uncovers evidence that U.N. peacekeepers are complicit in a flourishing sex-trafficking trade. But when she brings her allegations to light, she discovers that her foes are more powerful than the law. Based on a true story, this thriller from director Larysa Kondracki co-stars Monica Bellucci and David Strathairn.

The Informant!

Docudrama 2009 R 108 minutes. While gathering evidence against his institutional employer to help the FBI build a price-fixing conspiracy case, affable agribusiness executive Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) begins to piece together a fantasy world of his own. Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey co-star in Steven Soderbergh’s dark comedy, which is based on Kurt Eichenwald’s acclaimed nonfiction book about the true-life Corporate America whistle-blower.

The Cove

Documentary 2009 PG-13 92 minutes. Reveals slaughter of wild dolphins for food in Japan. Daring animal activists arrive with surveillance equipment at a scenic cove in Taijii, Japan, to capture footage of a secretive and heavily guarded operation run by the world’s largest supplier of dolphins. As the group sets out to expose the horrifying truths behind the capture of dolphins for the lucrative tourist industry, they also uncover an environmental catastrophe. Louie Psihoyos directs this riveting, Oscar-winning documentary.

Who Killed the Electric Car?

Documentary 2006 PG 91 minutes. Amid a volatile climate of ever-changing gas prices, this documentary delves into the short life of the GM EV1 electric car — a fuel-efficient auto that was once all the rage in the mid-1990s and now has fallen by the roadside. How could such a green-friendly vehicle fail to transform lives? Through interviews with government officials, former GM employees and concerned celebs, filmmaker Chris Paine seeks to find out.

Enron
The Smartest Guys in the Room

Documentary 2005 R 110 minutes. Based on the book of the same name by Peter Elkin, director Alex Gibney’s documentary takes a behind-the-scenes look at the powerful energy company whose downfall forever changed the landscape of the business world.

Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World

Documentary 2004 NR 90 minutes. Shows that aspartame the artificial sweetener in Diet Coke and other drinks causes health problems, brain damage, and death — which the FDA Food and Drug Administration fails to protect the public against. Filmmaker Cori Brackett’s riveting documentary probes the link between various health problems and the artificial sweetener aspartame. Diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Brackett set out to expose the toxicity of aspartame, prevalent in many foods despite warnings by the National Institutes of Health. Interviews with doctors, a former Food and Drug Administration investigator and other experts reveal controversial information about the sweetener. See Full Review

Battle’s Poison Cloud

Documentary 2004 NR 56 minutes. In this critically acclaimed exposé, filmmaker Cecile Trijssenaar documents the record numbers of birth defects and other health problems related to the lingering toxins of Agent Orange that had been sprayed over the landscape of Vietnam by U.S. troops. Even after the war ended, a cloud of tragedy remained due to the 17 million gallons of the chemical weapon that was dumped. The film calls for an admission of culpability and a much-needed cleanup.

Erin Brockovich

Docudrama 2000 R 131 minutes. Julia Roberts earned an Oscar in this unconventional drama based on actual events for her portrayal of Erin Brockovich, a twice-divorced mother of three who sees an injustice, takes on the bad guy and wins — with a little help from her push-up bra. She develops a case against PG&E; for poisoning the water of the community of Hinkley, CA, with the carcinogen, hexavalent chromium.

The Insider

Docudrama 1999 R 157 minutes. When a TV producer coaxes a researcher to speak about his former employer’s knowledge of tobacco’s dangers, the corporations try to silence them in this Oscar-nominated drama based on a true story. The Insider dramatizes an American tragedy. We have become a nation of people who willfully allow those in power to tell us lies. The government lies to us and the press lies to us, and more often than not we are lied to in order to protect the financial interests of big business. The second tragedy of this film is that so few people have seen it. A cynical person might say that we just don’t want to know. This is one of those films you should see (maybe along with Wall Street, Thirteen Days, All the President’s Men) if you want a (dramatized) picture of how the power-centers in America really operate under extraordinary circumstances – scandal and massive threats, in this case. Michael Mann shows us the forces that impact people when billions of dollars and entire corporations (hence thousands of jobs) are at stake – not to mention the millions of lives perhaps cut short by not understanding the full disclosure behind using a product that kills. To take on a multi-billion dollar industry almost single-handedly, you have to be more than a little nuts – and Russell Crowe does an excellent job of portraying a guy who has the right combination of traits: principled, pissed off, brilliant, and emotionally unstable. Al Pacino also is stellar in his role; he can yell at people like almost nobody else, and you get a full sense of the pressures on his character too, as he stands up to fight for Crowe’s scientist and his own journalistic integrity. Beyond these characters, you also get a flavor for the often-conflicted people who “matter” in the media – the star correspondents, the corporate bigwigs, the legal departments whose job it is to protect the company from disaster, and the tight-knit, first-name-basis web of people at the various publications who really have the power to channel (and spin) stories to millions.

Secrets of a Bomb Factory

Documentary Frontline 1993. Wes McKinley didn’t know what he was getting into when, in 1990, he was chosen as foreman of a special grand jury investigating potential crimes at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado. But what McKinley and the other grand jurors learned in their two-and-one-half years of listening to testimony and examining other evidence disturbed them enough to risk prosecution themselves by going public. Frontline, in co-production with Oregon Public Broadcasting, examines what the grand jury learned and what led to their rebellion.

The Official Story
(The Official History, La Historia Oficial)

Drama 1985 NR 110 minutes. Argentinean schoolteacher Alicia (Norma Aleandro) is forced to question her government’s official story of the “Dirty War” of the 1970s when she suspects that her adopted daughter, Gaby, may be the child of a murdered political prisoner. But her quest for truth takes a heavy toll on her relationship with her conservative husband (Héctor Alterio). This wrenching historical drama won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1986.

See also:

Films on Exposés

Films on Whistleblowers

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