Review: ‘Secrets And Lies’

Not to be confused with the same-named Mike Leigh dramedy, Greek docu "Secrets and Lies" explores how the Bhopal chemical disaster of 1984, which claimed as many as 20,000 lives, continues to affect people today.

Not to be confused with the same-named Mike Leigh dramedy, Greek docu “Secrets and Lies” explores how the Bhopal chemical disaster of 1984, which claimed as many as 20,000 lives, continues to affect people today. Passionate feelings of indignation, not least from the pic’s experienced documaker Stavros Stagos, shine through, although some excessively melodramatic musical choices over-egg pic’s pudding. Human-rights jamborees and upmarket cablers are likely to reveal “Secrets,” which won a prize at Thessaloniki’s documentary fest.

Unquestionably partisan, pic points a righteous, accusing finger mostly at Union Carbide, the multinational pesticide manufacturer that owned the Bhopal plant. Company is currently part of Dow Chemical (makers of Agent Orange) and now denies all legal responsibility for the disaster. Witnesses in the pic’s first half report how a trail of negligence and mismanagement led to the deadly gas leak. The rest details how Bhopal’s current residents are still being poisoned by contamination never properly cleaned up, and how the U.S. and Indian governments have colluded in the coverup. Subversive use of archival footage, such as old commercials for Union Carbide products, adds zing to an adequate tech package.

Secrets And Lies

Greece

Production

A Tzanetis Stagos, Stavros Nikiforos & EKK production, in association with Greek Film Center, EPT, Hellenic Broadcasting, Cinegram, J. Sughand Prods., Argonauts. (International sales: Greek Film Centre, Athens.) Produced by Stavros Stagos. Directed, written by Stavros Stagos.

Crew

Camera (color, DV) Stelios Apostopoulos; editor, Stathis Avgoustatos; music, Marios Strofalis. Reviewed on DVD, Hoveton, U.K., April 30, 2007. (In Thessaloniki Documentary Film Festival.) Original title: Mystika kai psemata. English, Hindi, Urdu dialogue. Running time: 79 MIN.
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