Oil & Water

from Multimedia Library Collection:
Environmental Film Profiles (videos)

Strickwerda, Francine, and Laurel Spellman Smith. Oil & Water. Seattle: Stir It Up Productions, 2014. HD, 78 min.

Most people are well aware of the continuing destruction of the Amazon rainforest, but relatively few people know about the devastation beneath this rich ecosystem in Ecuador. From the early 1970s to the '90s, oil companies contaminated vast swaths of pristine jungle by slopping billions of gallons of toxic waste into unlined pits. Oil & Water portrays this environmental disaster from the unique perspectives of young people at both ends of the spectrum—Hugo Lucitante, from the indigenous Cofan tribe in Ecuador, and David Poritz, from Amherst, Massachusetts. Hugo, sent at age 10 by his tribe to get an American education, graduated from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School in 2006. David first became aware of the oil catastrophe while researching a 6th-grade school project and made a commitment ever since to bring justice to the Amazon. This engaging doc follows the two teenagers with their feet in both worlds as their paths intersect over the next six years. While still in college, David fights an uphill battle to establish a "fair trade" certification system for oil production. Meanwhile, Hugo gets married to Sadie, a friend from his American high school, and the couple moves back and forth between his Cofan lands and the U.S. to save up for college. Oil & Water is a sobering look at the enormous pressures David and Hugo face, but it also demonstrates how two determined people can make a positive difference in the world. (Source: Official Film Website)

© 2014, Bullfrog Films, Inc. Trailer used with permission.

About the Environmental Film Profiles collection

Further readings: 
  • Arsel, Murat. "'Stating' Nature’s Role in Ecuadorian Development: Civil Society and the Yasuní-ITT Initiative." Journal of Developing Societies 28 (2012): 203–27.
  • Berros, María Valeria. “The Constitution of the Republic of Ecuador: Pachamama Has Rights.” Environment & Society Portal, Arcadia 2015, no. 11. Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society.
  • de Castro, Fabio."From Myths to Rules: The Evolution of Local Management in the Amazonian Floodplain." Environment and History 8, no. 2 (May, 2002): 197–216. doi:10.3197/096734002129342648.
  • Rival, Laura. "Ecuador's Yasuní-ITT Initiative: The Old and New Values of Petroleum." Ecological Economics 70, no. 2 (2010): 358–65.
  • Sawyer, Suzana. Crude Chronicles: Indigenous Politics, Multinational Oil, and Neoliberalism in Ecuador. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2004.