Two weeks before the documentary is to be released in theaters on October 29th, 2014, the Human Impacts Institute attended an advanced screening of Margaret Brown’s The Great Invisible. The Great Invisible tells the stories of community members throughout communities in Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas after the US’ worst oil spill in history.
On April 2010, the lives of many were tragically changed and 11 were lost as a result of the Deepwater Horizon explosion at the offshore oil-drilling rig operated by BP in the Gulf of Mexico. Brown, a Peabody Award-winning documentarian, weaves first-hand accounts of the explosion with insight and footage of its aftermath to create a vivid and emotional picture of the tension in the modern South.
The documentary’s exploration into the lives of the modern South’s fishermen, oilmen, and survivors has won it this year’s SXSW Film Festival. It offers unique insight from the various actors involved- the corporations, those affected, and even footage from the court settings. Footage from court proceedings revealed that all of our top 5 oil companies were unprepared to manage such a disaster. A behind the scenes conversation of some of the world’s top oil investors and traders at dinner was one of the many shocking scenes. “What’s your cost tolerance for something you think is politically acceptable?” said one of the few men at this dinner in reference to the political, economic, environmental, and other costs of drilling oil.
From this documentary, I learned more about just how complex oil is. Soon after the spill, further offshore drilling had been banned for a period of time. So on top of the jobs and lives lost because of the spill, many others soon found themselves unemployed and without many of the foods they had depended on their entire lives. The views of local community members were split between those who wanted a cease in drilling, those who relied on it and demanded it continue, and many versions in between. Brown used her time filming The Great Invisible to form a bond with those involved and her respectfulness of all opinions was noticeable.
The Aftermath: The U.S. continues to expand its oil rigs to numbers greater than ever before and BP oil is continuing to grow. There is not one solution to such an event.
The Great Invisible can also be used to raise awareness on this spill, which four years later has yet to be cleaned up. Offshore oil also generates the most revenue for the U.S. (second to taxes) and therefore may have a greater influence on our nation’s economy.
To purchase tickets for a showing in NYC, check out:http://www.villageeastcinema.com/angelika_nowshowing.asp?rdate=10/29/2014
By Milcah Zewdie, 2014 Environmental Intern, October 15, 2014