The residents of Grand Isle, the last inhabited barrier island off the coast of Louisiana, thought they were living in paradise until the 2010 BP oil spill hit their shores.
The film uses testimony from this island community to reveal the devastating repercussions that continue to plague them.
Sound Design & Mix
Colourist James Osborne
Additional Editor Katherine Lee
Production Manager Georgia Orwell
Additional Location Sound Eric Laws
Archive Researcher Judy Patterson
Story Development Jane Corbett
Executive Producers André Singer
Executive Producer – Bertha Foundation
Executive Producers NFTS Dick Fontaine
On April 20th 2010 the Deepwater Horizon, a Transocean-owned, BP-leased oil rig exploded. The blaze claimed the lives of 11 workers and the uncapped well gushed for 87 days pouring an estimated 4.2 million barrels of oil into the sea. It is considered the worst man-made environmental disaster in US history. The accident happened a 100 miles from Grand Isle, the last inhabited barrier island off the coast of Louisiana, 3 hours south of New Orleans……
from the Grand Isle community
“I love this place. It’s always been my home. I know it’s a small spec in the ocean, but it means a lot to me.”
“Everyone had a story about being sprayed with this shit and nobody knew what it was…that’s when they started telling us we had the flu and we called it the BP flu.”
“Grand Isle is like a little island lost in time…it was a clean environment, not much crime.”
Floyd & Julie
“Our parents used to trawl, my grand father would trawl with his wife..it’s in our blood, it’s our heritage.”
“BP hired our boats…we were told to ride through the oil, chop it up & sink it…I did that for 3 weeks before I got sick.”
“They’re not letting anyone know anything. They just continue to say it’s safe down here.”
“It’s like doing napalm across the ocean, it’s got to stop, the Gulf ecosystem is failing.”
WHY DID I MAKE THE FILM?
Matthew R Simmons was a former energy advisor to the Bush administration. I first heard him give an unpopular speech about the potential of “clean coal” to a progressive coastal Maine audience in 2001. He’d made his fortune in energy investment banking and the community was wary of him at first. Gradually, though, it became clear that this Mormon Republican was quite an anomaly, as soon after he published his book about peak oil, Twilight in the Desert: The Coming Saudi Oil Shock and the World Economy.
In the years that followed I began to perceive him in a new light, as a visionary who had set his sights on Maine becoming a leader in green energy from offshore wind and ocean forces. He became a great local philanthropist, supporting the restoration of the local cinema, The Strand Theatre, as well as funding a series of short documentary films I co-produced. As the Deepwater Horizon disaster unfolded he appeared on all the major networks becoming more and more outspoken about the disaster. Following his sudden death in August 2010, my curiousity about what he was so incensed about led me to Louisiana to begin research on the film.
I like this short tribute to him by Richard Heinberg, senior fellow, Post Carbon Institute
“As an environmentalist, I found Matt Simmons to be a delightful surprise: a wealthy Republican who talked openly and intelligently about limits to growth! He refused to be held back by friends, colleagues, and perhaps even by clients in the oil and banking businesses who no doubt wished he’d just shut up and go back to making money. He went where curiosity and evidence led him, and that meant probing the inscrutable monolith of the oil industry–Saudi Arabia. I don’t know of anyone else who would have had the courage and respect within the industry to accomplish what he did.”
Juliet Brown is a British filmmaker who began her career in Cambodia in the 1990s, finding a poetic voice for conflict resolution films about the Khmer Rouge genocide. Much of her work explores how people interact with their landscapes and the value of nature. After many years building wooden boats and making short films on the coast of Maine, she returned to the UK for the National Film & Television’s Documentary Direction MA in 2009. Her graduation film, Noah’s Canoe was short-listed for the Royal Television Society’s Post-Graduate Factual Awards in 2011.
ECOCIDE – Voices from Paradise, is supported by The Bertha Foundation/NFTS Docs for Change award.
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