- Environment, Social Issues, Human Rights, and Culture
Oil & Water is the story of two boys coming of age in the middle of one of the worldâ€™s worst toxic disasters: the contamination of Ecuadorâ€™s Amazon region by reckless oil drilling. Hugo fights for the survival of his Amazonian tribe, while David attempts to revolutionize the oil industry. Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future for people around the world born with oil beneath their feet.
- Show treatment
Oil & Water is the true story of two boys coming of age as they each confront one of the worldâ€™s worst toxic disasters. Hugo and David were born on opposite ends of the oil pipeline. Hugo comes to America to fight for the survival of his Cofan tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon, while David goes to Ecuador to launch the worldâ€™s first company to certify oil as â€œfair trade.â€ Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future, not just for the Cofan, but for all people around the world who are born with oil beneath their feet.
When Hugo Lucitante was 10 years old, his tribe made a desperate decision. Fearing extinction, they sent Hugo to be educated in the U.S., in hopes that he would return to lead them into a better future. A decade later, we follow Hugo as he returns to the Ecuadorian Amazon to meet his destiny, armed only with a high school diploma.
David Poritz was just a sixth-grader when he learned of the oil disaster in Hugo's homeland. With the blessing of his mother, David started a humanitarian project that led him away from his home in Amherst, Massachusetts to spend much of his youth in the Amazon. The two teenagers meet by chance during a shared canoe ride, and then again, when David offers to travel with Hugo to tour the damage cause by the 18 billion gallons of oil waste that was dumped on Hugo's ancestral lands. The area's people experience unexplainable rashes, childhood deformities and ballooning cancer rates. The film follows the boys back to the U.S. as their lives and the situation in Ecuador get more complicated.
David, now a college student, launches the world's first international company to certify oil as â€œfair trade,â€ meaning that it is drilled in a safer and more ethical way. He and his seven employees are in the process of certifying their first customer, Petroamazonas, the state-controlled oil company of Ecuador. David's approach could be a whopping game changer for the oil industry. Oil & Water explores what could be a revolution, and it's being led by a 22-year-old.
Hugo struggles with culture shock, the demands of learning to be a Cofan tribal leader, and also becoming a husband. He marries Sadie, a Lebanese-American girl and she moves from Seattle to make a home with Hugo in the jungle. Financial pressures force Hugo to shoulder two minimum wage jobs, even as the tribe looks to him for help dealing with oil prospectors pushing deeper into the rainforest. A significant oil deposit lies under Hugoâ€™s village, and itâ€™s only a matter of time before this world could be lost forever.
Can Hugo become the leader his tribe so desperately wants him to be? Will David clean up one of the world's dirtiest industries? Oil & Water is an intimate portrait of two young people finding their voices and trying to beat incredible odds. Eight years in the making, the film is an independent documentary funded by ITVS and MacArthur foundation and made for broadcast on PBS.
- Running time
- 78 and 55 minutes
- Laurel Spellman Smith ... Director, Producer & Cinematographer
- Prod. Co.
- Stir It Up Produtions
- United States
- Years of Production
- United States and Ecuador
- Prod. Partners
- ITVS, MacArthur Foundation, Chicken & Egg, 4 Culture, Pacific Pioneer Fund, IFP, Good Pitch
- Release year
- Seattle, Hollywood, Enviornmental FF DC, Rhode Island, Rio, Southern Circuit, Sonoma, Sebastopol, Bahamas, San Luis Obisbo, Wild & Scenic, Princeton, MIA, Social Justice, Global Peace, Planet In Focus, Global Issues, WaterDocs, Docu Latino, Haida Gwaii,
- Audience and Green Planet Award at RIIFF, Jury and Audience at Northampton IFF, Top 10 Eco Docs from EcoWatch Mag
- PBS World Channel, Bullfrog Films
- Broadcast (Prod.)
- Broadcast (Acq.)
- World Channel
- English, Spanish, Cofan
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