Films on Oil


Vanishing Pearls

Documentary 2014 NR 1hr20m.  This doc visits the Gulf Coast to expose the effects of the 2010 oil spill on the people and economy in the community of Pointe à la Hache.  The British Petroleum (BP) project Deepwater Horizon caused this disaster by carelessness and greed.  BP’s Tony Hayward said “We will be judged by our response.”  Their response is nothing short of a crime against humanity and the planet.  This is a powerful movie that exposes what REALLY happened as the aftermath of the BP Gulf spill, and how little regard BP has had for the US citizens, economy, and environment.  See Full Review

The Big Fix

Documentary 2011 NR 1hr 30m. This turns cameras on the devastating 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, where two filmmakers unearth a stunning stream of corruption. If you think you know the story of the Gulf spill, take the time to watch this brilliant film that not only re-tells that story with details that have been purposely hidden, but also helps connect the dots between how and why we are consistently lied to and our health compromised in the name of corporate profits. It features investigative reporting in the Gulf and interviews ranging from the Gulf to Washington DC in an attempt to understand how this disaster could have been allowed to happen. This film presents some important on-the-ground journalism about the BP spill that is not being done by many others. See Full Review

The Spill (in 2010)

Documentary Frontline 2010 NR 53 minutes. This installment of the PBS documentary series investigates the disaster involving Deepwater Horizon, the BP drilling rig that exploded in April 2010, killing 11 workers and causing the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history. Focusing on BP’s appalling record of safety violations, this program paints a scathing portrait of a company callously committed to profits despite repeated pledges to better protect its workers and the environment. Long before the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf, BP was widely viewed as a company that valued deal-making and savvy marketing over safety, a “serial environmental criminal” that left behind a long trail of problems — deadly accidents, disastrous spills, countless safety violations — which many now believe should have triggered action by federal regulators. Could the spill have been prevented? Through interviews with current and former employees and executives, government regulators, and safety experts, Frontline correspondent Martin Smith joins with the investigative non-profit ProPublica to examine the trail that led to the disaster in the Gulf. From BP’s vast oil fields in Alaska to its refineries in Texas and its trading rooms in New York and London, the film raises new questions about whether BP’s corporate culture will finally be forced to change.


Documentary 2010 NR 1hr 1m. Subtitled “Louisiana Water Stories,” SoLa is a retrospective of a way of life that may have been destroyed forever by Hurricane Katrina. Beautiful photography of a gorgeous environment, ruined by the rusty, leaky, abandoned equipment from the oil and gas industries. The oil industry toiled in the dark for almost 100 yrs, hidden behind their lies or distance from large populations. Well, now our high population makes that harder to do and their lies are coming to light in ways that can’t be brushed off anymore.

Anatomy of an Oil Spill (in 1989)

Documentary Frontline 1990. In the black, early morning hours of Good Friday, 1989, the supertanker Exxon Valdez went aground on Bligh Reef, spilling millions of gallons of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Frontline correspondent Jon Tuttle investigates the long history of complacency, negligence, and broken promises by government agencies and oil companies that led to this disaster.

Phillipines: The Black Stain of Oil
Who’s Cleaning Up?

Documentary Frontline / World 2007. The islands affected by last year’s oil spill in the Philippines are part of an important marine biosphere and known for their breathtaking beauty. News of the oil tanker sinking hardly caused a ripple in U.S. mainstream media but Frontline/World reporter Jason Margolis went to investigate what is being called the worst environmental disaster in Philippine history.


Documentary 2013 NR 44m. With an oil pipeline proposal comes talk of what there is to be gained. STAND asks the question, ‘What do we stand to lose? The cinematography is spectacular, and that’s the one aspect of this film I’ll offer unequivocal praise. Some white guy paddleboarding the tanker route is just about the least interesting hook for a documentary I can imagine. This guy makes it all about his own personal journey to paddleboard the tanker route, and uses indigenous people and communities as a backdrop for his own spiritual journey. He has a lot of great footage and good interviews with First Nations people, which he peppers in with much longer scenes of him just talking about himself and his feelings. It’s a wasted opportunity, and an unfortunate misuse of some fantastic material.  The interviews with Heiltsuk youth and the backgrounder on the Haida struggle on Lyell Island are the best partsI’m disappointed because I expected facts, not just attempt to emotionally sway with BC’s natural beauty. We hear a lot of talk about the Northern Gateway pipeline here in British Columbia, but not too many realize what’s actually at stake should something go wrong. Stand takes us on a trip into on of the last pristine wilderness areas on earth and uses surfing as a vehicle to showcase the beauty of BC’s north coast. It’s beautifully shot and is well worth a watch. If the area does experience devastation from an oil spill, this documentary will be the lasting record of the beauty existing there prior to it.


Crude Impact

Documentary 2006 NR 97 minutes. Oil may have fueled the development of the modern industrial society, but as this compelling documentary explains, it’s also triggered political conflict, greed, environmental devastation and an addiction to consumption. Director James Jandak Wood traces how the world has become dependent on fossil fuels — a resource that someday will be gone — and how little has been done to develop alternative energy sources.


Documentary 2010 NR 101 minutes. An unsettling wake-up call to all Americans, this documentary dissects the country’s dependence on foreign pipelines, exposes rich oil companies’ devious dealings, and explores alternative fuels as a viable solution to our global energy crisis. Narrated by actor Peter Gallagher, the film includes interviews with government officials, scientific experts, academics and politicians from both sides of the aisle.


Documentary 2009 NR 1hr 20m. In an avant-garde soliloquy, investigative journalist Michael Ruppert details his unnerving theories about the inexorable link between energy depletion and the collapse of the economic system that supports the entire industrial world. This is a really good movie with lots of valid points and true information–Ruppert knows his stuff. However I do want to raise a couple of issues. First off, were I to recommend a documentary to someone that deals with these concepts, it would not be this one. Had this been the first ‘alternative’ thing I’d watched, I would have felt hopeless, beaten, and probably just said, “screw it.” Second, it covers a lot of topics in very sparse detail. He makes a very quick point and then moves on to the next thing. No references, no sources, no deep analysis, just a guy in a chair, chain smoking Marlboro lights, quickly moving through everything that’s wrong with our system (most of which he’s right about, mind you).

Houston, We Have a Problem

Documentary 2008 NR 81 minutes. Taking viewers inside America’s oil industry, this documentary from director Nicole Torre goes straight to the source to get the skinny on the global energy crisis and the voracious American appetite for oil that’s fueling it.

The Age of Stupid

Docudrama 2008 NR 1hr 28m. In the desolate future of 2055, an archivist combs through a vast collection of videos to learn what went wrong with the planet. His research points to the first decade of the century, when humans blithely ignored the warning signs of climate change.\

A Crude Awakening
The Oil Crash

Documentary 2006 NR 83 minutes. In this straight-from-the-headlines documentary, award-winning filmmakers Basil Gelpke and Ray McCormack examine the world’s dependency on oil and the impending chaos that’s sure to follow when the resource finally runs dry.


Bidder 70

Documentary 2012 NR 73 minutes. This documentary relates the saga of Tim DeChristopher, who brazenly bid $1.7 million to win 12 land parcels at a federal oil lease auction. With no intention of paying — and determined to protect the land — the activist begins a long legal battle.

Crude Independence

Documentary 2009 NR 1hr 10m. Director Noah Hutton’s poignant documentary chronicles the heartbreaking transformation forced upon the residents of Stanley, N.D., after geologists discover 200 billion barrels of crude oil beneath the small town.


The Oil Factor

Documentary 2005 NR 93 minutes. Despite official statements that U.S. wars in the Middle East and Central Asia are being waged in the name of terror, it’s hard to ignore that three-quarters of the world’s oil supply comes from these regions. Narrated by Edward Asner, this thought-provoking documentary explores the realities of the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan and sheds light on the United States’ true motives. Featured experts include Noam Chomsky and author Ahmed Rashid. Even though it briefly talks about oil and its future, its primary focus is the war in Iraq/ Afghanistan. Its title is elusive because it focuses almost entirely on the causes/effects of war in those countries. It does not talk about oil enough and gives no strong history of oil in these countries as well as America. This doc. should be retitled to something along the lines of “the unspoken history of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.” This the is most important MUST SEE documentary ever! Everyone should see this. Very factual. Please tell all your friends to see this. See Full Review

Fahrenheit 9/11

Documentary 2004 R 122 minutes. Michael Moore’s hard-hitting documentary addresses the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, outlining the reasons the United States (and, in turn, thousands of innocent Americans) became a target for hatred and terrorism. The film not only criticizes President George W. Bush’s response to the attacks but also reinforces Moore’s theory that the Bush Administration used the tragic event to push its own political agenda.See Full Review

The War Behind Closed Doors

Documentary Frontline 2003. Frontline examines the hidden story of what is really driving the Bush administration to war with Iraq. The investigation asks whether the publicly reported reasons–fear of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction or a desire to insure and protect America’s access to oil–are only masking the real reason for the war. Through interviews with well-placed sources in and outside of the administration, Frontline unravels a story known only to the Washington insiders.

Truth, War, and Consequences

Documentary Frontline 2003. Frontline traces the roots of the Iraqi war back to the days immediately following September 11, when Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered the creation of a special intelligence operation to quietly begin looking for evidence that would justify the war. The intelligence reports soon became a part of a continuing struggle between civilians in the Pentagon on one side and the CIA, State Department, and uniformed military on the other – a struggle that would lead to inadequate planning for the aftermath of the war, continuing violence, and mounting political problems for the president.

Imperial Grand Strategy
Noam Chomsky

Lecture 2006 NR 120 minutes. In two lectures and a 45-minute interview, intellectual and political activist Noam Chomsky — credited as the father of modern linguistics — delivers an unabashed criticism of the Bush administration’s record on terrorism, framing the president’s invasion of Iraq as part of an “imperial grand strategy.” Filmed in 2003, this collection of Chomsky’s personal views also provides an effective overview of the global political climate.

Chalmers Johnson
Speaking Freely: Vol. 4

Lecture 2007 NR 52 minutes. Writer and professor Chalmers Johnson warns of the dangers of American imperialism, a trend evidenced in the presence of U.S. military bases abroad, the passage of the Patriot Act and the executive branch’s use of military force.

The Road Warrior  (Mad Max 2)

Sci-Fi 1981 R 95 minutes. In this sequel to the dystopian action-adventure Mad Max, Mel Gibson returns as the heroic loner who drives the dusty roads of a postapocalyptic Australian Outback in an unending search for gasoline. ‘Mad’ Max is now full-on rogue, driving about the near-future wasteland and running afoul of the lords of the highways – biker gangs – to salvage the world’s finest commodity — gasoline. He stumbles across a protected holding that’s sitting on tons of fuel, and when Max tries to negotiate for some of it, he finds himself mixed up in a war with a biker gang also after the resource. Everyone needs gas, a group of primarily peaceful people have it, and a group of murderous animalistic humans in black want to kill them & take it…while a lone-wolf enters the fray only to do what’s in his best-interest. Arrayed against him and the other scraggly defendants of a fuel-depot encampment are the bizarre warriors commanded by the charismatic Lord Humungus, a violent leader whose scruples are as barren as the surrounding landscape. Road Warrior explores the reasons for society’s breakdown before launching Max into an Australian Petro War in the outback. The Road Warrior is a B-Movie that somehow elevates to A-status. The dialog is so sparse in The Road Warrior that the script is probably only 20 pages long — and it works!  There really isn’t anything else quite like this one. Its story and message are simple, the age old hero story, but it’s the details that set this one apart. An absolute masterpiece, which gets better with each viewing.


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. See Full Review

Revenge of the Electric Car

Documentary 2011 PG-13 90 minutes. Four vastly different yet equally driven auto industry visionaries rush to develop and market the first commercially successful electric car in this follow-up to the provocative documentary Who Killed the Electric Car?

Bidder 70

Documentary 2012 NR 73 minutes. This documentary relates the saga of Tim DeChristopher, who brazenly bid $1.7 million to win 12 land parcels at a federal oil lease auction. With no intention of paying — and determined to protect the land — the activist begins a long legal battle.

Tortillanomics: Food or Fuel?

The Competition for Mexico’s Corn

Documentary Frontline / World 2008. Mexico is among many countries worldwide dealing with unrest caused by rising food prices. Frontline/World reporter Malia Wollan discovers that increasing demand for corn-based biofuel in the United States is driving up the cost of Mexico’s staple food, the tortilla.

e2: Transport

Documentary 2008 NR 180 minutes. With gas prices drifting ever higher — and global economies faltering as a result — this PBS series provides a well-timed examination of sustainable transportation. In the episodes presented here, viewers learn about a Paris mayor’s initiative to get residents to relinquish cars for bikes and public transportation; the restoration of the Cheonggyecheo Stream area of Seoul, Korea, in an effort to reduce traffic; and more.

The Yes Men Fix the World

Documentary 2009 NR 87 minutes. Two didactic pranksters known as the Yes Men — Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno — employ monkey business to highlight the political and economic shenanigans surrounding ecological catastrophes like the 1984 Union Carbide Corporation disaster in India. They pose as spokesman for the Dow Corporation (which took over Union Carbide) and go on live TV apologizing for their role in the incident and pledging to fix the wrong. In this film, the Yes Men go after a collection of corporations who have injured the world in one way or another. They go into corporate meetings and conventions posing as heads of business to expose how greed and instant stock satisfaction destroys lives. They also pose as representatives of HUD at a meeting in New Orleans about destroying existing public housing after Hurricane Katrina. They also help put out a “special edition of the New York Times” featuring “All the News You Would Like Printed”. They also propose a new fuel after oil runs out. See Full Review


Sprawling From Grace
The Consequences of Suburbanization

Documentary 2008 NR 1hr 22m. Over the years, Americans have spread across the country in waves of movement from cities to suburbia. This thought-provoking documentary explores the negative aspects of this situation, especially the dependence on automobiles and foreign oil. A host of prominent figures — including former President Bill Clinton and former Governor Michael Dukakis — discuss innovative ways to build cities and our need for new energy strategies.

Escape from Suburbia

Documentary 2007 NR 1hr 34m. After condemning America’s oil dependency in his 2004 documentary The End of Suburbia, filmmaker Gregory Greene here addresses the solutions that will avert catastrophe, outlining the issues actively moving the energy crisis from theory to reality. Spurred to action by the realities of peak oil, Greene focuses his camera on individuals across the country brave enough to challenge and instigate their communities into serious change.

The End of Suburbia

Documentary 2004 NR 90 minutes. This provocative documentary examines the history of suburban life and the wisdom of this distinctly American way of life. A post-World War II concept, suburbia attracted droves of people, giving rise to sprawl and all that comes with it — good and bad. How has the environment been affected by this lifestyle, and is it sustainable? Director Gregory Greene dares to ask all the tough questions.

Out of Balance

Documentary 2007 NR 65 minutes. Documentarian Tom Jackson turns his lens on some inconvenient truths about energy titan Exxon Mobil and its effect on climate change. Spotlighting the company’s efforts to fund skewed media campaigns and support global-warming skeptics, Jackson builds his case in interviews with leading writers and scientists in the field of climatology. The film also explains the science behind global warming, as well as offering up some solutions to the crisis.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior

Sci-Fi 1981 R 95 minutes. In this sequel to the dystopian action-adventure Mad Max, Mel Gibson returns as the heroic loner who drives the dusty roads of a postapocalyptic Australian Outback in an unending search for gasoline. Arrayed against him and the other scraggly defendants of a fuel-depot encampment are the bizarre warriors commanded by the charismatic Lord Humungus (Kjell Nilsson), a violent leader whose scruples are as barren as the surrounding landscape.

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