Latest Column: The “Sunlight” on “Crude”

It’s inevitable that we will soon see damning exposes about the environmental disaster caused by the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger cautions against making parallels to his own situation.

As tempting as it may be, the battle he is waging against Chevron, which wants him to turn over some 600 hours of outtakes from his 2009 documentary “Crude,” has drawn enough attention on its own merits, not the least of which is a renewed call for a federal shield law.

A growing chorus of TV networks, Hollywood guilds, media figures (including Robert Redford, who wrote this recent essay) and fellow directors have come to his defense, fearful of a chill setting in over documentary filmmakers and investigative journalists if they face an ever-present prospect of having their material subject to review by parties in litigation.

That’s the subject of my latest column, which you can read here.

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