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Berlinger Receives Final Court Order from Appeals Court

July 16th, 2010

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Berlinger’s attorney Maura Wogan says that “while we await the appeals court’s formal legal opinion on the journalist’s privilege, this interim order does substantially limit Judge Kaplan’s decision and place restrictions on Chevron,” interpreting this verdict as a “win for Joe Berlinger, journalists, and documentarians everywhere,” as the lower court order would have required Berlinger to produce more than 600 hours of raw film footage, whereas under the appeals court order, Berlinger will produce only unused footage that falls into specific categories.

Berlinger articulates a similar sense of victory, stating:

“Since the court issued its order without yet a corresponding opinion, I must reserve my full analysis of the results until the three-judge panel’s opinion is rendered.  However, I can say that we are extremely pleased with today’s results.  The appeals court has substantially limited Judge Kaplan’s overbroad order, which was the main thrust of our appeal.  Furthermore, the court has expressly prohibited Chevron from using any footage we do turn over in their public relations campaigns, a goal that was extremely important to me.

I am gratified that by adhering to the basic standards of the journalist’s privilege articulated in the previous precedent setting case Gonzalez vs. NBC, the appeals court for the Second Circuit has affirmed that documentary filmmakers are no different than any other journalists deserving First Amendment protection.

I am deeply grateful for the tremendous outpouring of support that the artistic, filmmaking, legal, media and journalist communities have shown towards this case in the past three months.  It was precisely this support that gave me and my legal team at Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein & Selz the strength to stand up for these very important foundations of American democracy.”

We thank you once more for your persistence interest, passion, and support throughout this monumental fight.

-Joe Berlinger & Team CRUDE

Appeals Court Rules Filmmaker Must Give Some Footage to Chevron

By Dave Itzkoff for The New York Times

July 15, 2010

CRUDE Director Must Hand Over Some Outtakes to Chevron, Appeals Court Rules

By John Horn for The Los Angeles Times

July 15, 2010

Filmmaker Must Turn Over Chevron-Ecuador Footage

By Chad Bray for The Wall Street Journal

July 15, 2010

Court Rules Chevron Must Get Some Film Outtakes


July 15, 2010

New York Court Limits What Filmmaker Must Give Chevron

By Larry Neumeister for The Associated Press

July 15, 2010

CRUDE Director to Hand Over Limited Footage

By  Ted Johnson for Variety

July 15, 2010

“Limited Victory” for Berlinger in CRUDE Case

By Brent Lang for The Wrap

July 15, 2010

Tentative Ruling Requires CRUDE Filmmaker to Turn Over Footage

By Matthew Belloni for The Hollywood Reporter

July 15, 2010

Berlinger v. Chevron Appellate Hearing Held Yesterday, 7/14; Decision Pending

July 15th, 2010

As many of you may know, our full appellate hearing to protect roughly 600 hours of CRUDE footage and defend our First Amendment rights against the Chevron Corp. subpoena was held yesterday in front of a three-judge panel of the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Below please find a compilation of some of the most recent press on yesterday’s hearing, our case, and the larger issues at stake, and please stay tuned in the coming days as we await the court’s decision.


U.S. Court Hears Filmmaker’s Appeal Against Chevron


July 14, 2010

CRUDE Director Joe Berlinger on His Epic Battle with Chevron

By Eriq Gardner for The Hollywood Reporter

July 14, 2010

Chevron and CRUDE’s Joe Berlinger Locked in a Legal Battle

By John Horn for The Los Angeles Times

July 14, 2010

Berlinger Anticipates “Limited Victory” in Case Against Chevron

By Eugene Hernandez for IndieWIRE

July 14, 2010

The Media vs. Chevron: Bring it On

By Alex Konrad for Fortune

July 14, 2010

Appeals Court Hears Arguments in Chevron Documentary Case

By Colin Moynihan for The New York Times

July 14, 2010

Appeals Court Hears Arguments Over Outtakes

By Colin Moynihan, Complied by Dave Itzkoff for The New York Times

July 14, 2010

Chevron Tries to Restrict 1st Amendment in Latest Twist in CRUDE

By Trudie Styler for The Huffington Post

July 14, 2010

Continued Outpouring of International Support for BERLINGER v. CHEVRON Formal Appellate Hearing TOMORROW (7/14) in NYC!

July 13th, 2010

With a long list of prominent participants from the global film community including Mikhail Gorbachev and Leonardo DiCaprio, the Cinema for Peace Foundation (CFPF) is issuing an ad that will run in tomorrow’s International Herald Tribune, supporting CRUDE filmmaker Joe Berlinger’s appellate hearing that will take place tomorrow, July 14th, 2010, in New York City. Click below to view the ad.

Cinema For Peace International Herald Tribune Ad

In addition to CFPF’s support in the Tribune, The Executive Committee of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Pitcure Arts and Sciences has also issued a committee letter in support of Berlinger’s efforts to resist the Chevron subpoena. Click below to view the letter.

Executive Committee of the Documentary Branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Letter

Ultimately, we cannot predict whether this truly wonderful continued support from our esteemed peers, colleagues, and compatriots all over the world (including the hundreds of you who helped us reach over $30,000 in donations for our CRUDE First Amendment Fund!) will have a direct impact on the second circuit court’s decision, but we firmly believe that with all this meaningful momentum, at the very least, our voices are being heard–both in the courtroom and around the world. Regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, we take great pride in this alliance.

Please stay tuned in the coming days for a verdict, and thank you all again for your support.



June 28th, 2010

There are TWO DAYS LEFT to donate to our CRUDE FIRST AMENDMENT FUND, so if you were unable to come out to the benefit screening at IFC Center last week, you can still help us reach our new goal of $30k by midnight (Eastern) on Wednesday, June 30th by donating on our Kickstarter site!

As many of you may know and undoubtedly played a part, Team CRUDE experienced a truly incredible wave of support in the last few days.  First, our special CRUDE legal defense benefit screening was a huge success, playing to a sold-out crowd and featuring a lively panel that included CRUDE’s director Joe Berlinger, his lead attorney Maura Wogan, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, WGAe President Michael Winship, and moderated by the one and only Thom Powers.  We want to formally extend our sincerest THANKS to everybody who came out last Tuesday.  We know that due to limited seating, not all who showed up at IFC were able to attend, and we hope you will continue to check back on our site for more information on possible upcoming CRUDE events throughout the summer.

In addition to the sold-out benefit screening, as recently reporter in Variety, The Wall Street Journal, and IndieWIRE among other outlets, Berlinger’s fight to defend his footage received the brilliant support of many filmmaking peers in the IDA’s amici curiae brief penned by Michael Donaldson of Donaldson and Callif on behalf of the IDA, DGA, WGA, PGA, IFP, Latino Public Broadcasting, documentary filmmakers Alex Gibney and Tia Lessin, and more.

That brief may be viewed in full HERE and has been filed in addition to leading constitutional and first amendment expert Floyd Abrams’ brief that now has the support of virtually every major media outlet including: ABC, Inc., The Associated Press, CBS Broadcasting, Inc., The Daily News, LP, Dow Jones & Company, Inc., Gannett Company, Inc., Hearst Corporation, HBO, Inc., The National Press Photographers Association, NBC Universal, Inc., The New York Times Company, PEN American Center, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, The Society of Environmental Journalists, and The Washington Post.

To see full Abrams brief, please click here: Abrams Brief

We are once again deeply moved and grateful for the continued outpouring of support from our most esteemed peers and take great pride in trusting that it will continue regardless of the outcome of this case.

Our formal appellate hearing is scheduled for July 14th in New York City. We will continue to keep you updated on this case as it develops.

We ask once more that over the next two days, you help us REACH OUR NEW GOAL of $30k raised for our FIRST AMENDMENT FUND, and we hope you will continue to support us as we march toward our July 14th court date.

Thank you.


Special CRUDE Legal Defense Benefit Screening @ IFC Center Tuesday, June 22nd, 8 pm!

June 14th, 2010

To support our legal defense fund and shine additional light on the issues at stake, this very special CRUDE screening, co-sponsored by the IDA and WGA, will feature a panel discussion with CRUDE’s director Joe Berlinger, Berlinger’s lead attorney Maura Wogan of Frankfurt Kurnit, documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and WGA, East President Michael Winship, among others.  The panel will discuss our case and how it affects the roles and rights of documentarians and other independent journalists in today’s global community.  We hope you will join us for what will surely be a thought-provoking evening exploring the future of the foundation of documentary filmmaking.

*For more information on the event, click here

*To purchase tickets to the event, click here

*To find the event on Facebook, click here

Berlinger Wins “Stay” of Footage Turnover Order; Hearing for Appeal in July

June 8th, 2010

As those of you who’ve been following our case know, Chevron recently served a subpoena on the makers of the feature documentary CRUDE in order to obtain nearly 600 hours of raw footage accumulated during the making of the film. In May, a US District Court ruled for Chevron and ordered CRUDE’s director, Joe Berlinger, to produce the footage. In an effort to protect the footage, his sources, and his process, Berlinger immediately appealed.

Today in New York City, a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that Berlinger will be awarded a full hearing in July on his appeal, and as a result, the district court’s May 20th order directing Berlinger to produce the footage will be suspended during the pendency of the appeal.

Berlinger’s lead attorney, Maura Wogan of Frankfurt Kurnit, says today’s decision “signals that the appeals court takes seriously the rights of investigative journalists like Joe Berlinger,” and  Berlinger is “delighted that the appellate court seems to understand the significant public interest in our appeal being heard.”

Over the last several weeks, we’ve continued to be awed and inspired by how this case has made headlines across the country.  We’ve received incredible support from the film and journalism communities, including open letters from the IDA, DGA, WGA, and a friend-of-the-court brief from leading First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams on behalf of 13 major media companies followed.  As eloquently articulated by many esteemed members of the press and independent film legends—from the editors of The Los Angeles Times to Michael Moore, Bill MoyersRobert Redford and most recently,  Norman Lear—a ruling in favor of Chevron would be a grave violation of Berlinger’s First Amendment rights and will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on documentary filmmakers and journalists worldwide.  The stay that was granted today will allow us to argue the merits of our position before the Court, and for that we are grateful.

We cannot thank all of you enough for your amazing support throughout this process. We are continuing to accept donations for our  defense fund through the end of June, as our legal bills continue to mount through the duration of this appeal. We are truly and deeply moved by the support we have received so far and can only hope you will help us continue to spread the word to family and friends.

Stay Tuned…


Recent Press on the case:,0,3553969.story

Complete Amicus Brief:

Temporary Stay Granted Today, First Amendment Fund Up and Running on Kickstarter

May 20th, 2010

Dear friends,

It’s only been a few hours since we launched our First Amendment Fund, and we are already well on our way to reaching our initial goal of $20,000 by the end of June.  We cannot thank you enough for your immediate and generous support and hope you will help us spread the word as we continue to defend our First Amendment rights against Chevron. We cannot put up this fight without your help, and we are so grateful for this wonderful first day of support.

As reported in Reuters and The New York Times, the temporary stay we were granted today enables us to advance what we believe is a meritorious appeal on this very significant First Amendment matter. We still need the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to grant us a permanent stay in order to file a meaningful appeal, but we are grateful for today’s positive outcome.

Click here to listen to Joe Berlinger’s interview on today’s Leonard Lopate Show on WNYC.

Stay tuned…


Bill Moyers and Michael Winship Weigh in on ‘Crude’ Controversy

May 14th, 2010

CRUDE Filmmakers Subpoenaed by Chevron

May 12th, 2010

As many of you may have seen in the press, the makers of Crude were recently served with subpoenas by Chevron, in an effort to gain access to the nearly 600 hours of raw footage accumulated during the making of the film.  Our attorneys filed a response, stating that our footage is protected by the journalist’s privilege and forcing us to hand it over to any third party (either Chevron, the plaintiffs’ lawyers, or anyone else) is a violation of our First Amendment rights.  The hearing was held on Friday, April 30th in New York.

Last Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled against us, unfortunately denying our arguments.

We are appealing this decision, as we feel it is a violation of our First Amendment rights and could have a seriously chilling effect on documentary filmmakers and journalists everywhere. We appreciate the incredible outpouring of support from people in the documentary community and allies all over the world, and we hope that this extremely troubling situation will conclude in our favor.  We will keep you posted on all developments.  Please keep checking back here for updates.

Thank you for your support.

-Joe Berlinger, May 12, 2010
Here are some recent articles about the case:

Should a Documentary Filmmaker Get a Journalist’s Privilege
By John Schwartz and Dave Itzkoff
May 7, 2010

Judge Grants Chevron Access to Film Footage
By David R. Baker
May 7, 2010

Michael Moore Says Judge’s Ruling Could Have ‘Chilling Effect’ on Documentaries
By Dave Itzkoff
May 7, 2010

Joe Berlinger must surrender outtakes from ‘Crude’ doc
Associated Press
May 6, 2010

Chevron Oil Demands ‘Crude’ Filmmaker Hand Over Unseen Footage
By Rory Carroll
April 29, 2010

Chevron’s New Tactic Called a Threat to First Amendment
By Tracy Barnett
April 29, 2010

Chevron Wants Unused Film on Ecuador Dispute
By David R. Baker,
April 28, 2010

Chevron Goes Drilling for Footage
By Dave Gilson
April 28. 2010

Documentarian Fights Oil Company’s Subpoena in Federal Court
By Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
April 27, 2010

Chevron Vs. Filmmaker
By Dave Itzkoff
April 26, 2010

Director of ‘Crude’ Will Resist Chevron’s Request for Footage
April 26, 2010
By Dave Itzkoff

‘Crude’ Filmmakers Resist Chevron order: Oil Giant is Seeking Footage Not Included in Docu
By Ted Johnson
April 23, 2010

‘Crude’ Director Battles Chevron Over Footage
Oil Company Wants Footage for Ecuadorean Lawsuit, but Berlinger Invokes First Amendment

By Brent Lang & Sharon Waxman
April 23, 2010

CRUDE wins International Green Film Award at Cinema for Peace Gala!

February 16th, 2010

We are so proud to announce that CRUDE took home the top prize, the International Green Film Award, last night at the prestigious Cinema for Peace Gala in Berlin!  The award was presented by President Mikhail Gorbachev and Leonardo DiCaprio.


Founded in 2002, Cinema for Peace seeks to “promote peace and international understanding through film.” Cinema for Peace, “is a symbol of peace, freedom and tolerance, a symbol with a lasting effect on the world of film and media, initiating important projects and the free exchange of ideas.”


The International Green Film Award honors “an extraordinarily inspiring achievement of a film artist in the domains of environment and climate protection.”  Fellow nominees included James Cameron, Roland Emmerich, and Robert Redford.  What an honor to be nominated among such an awe-inspiring group of filmmakers!