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Oil and Politics

Oil and Politics


Directed by Alexandre Trudeau

After centuries of Western domination, the waterways of the Middle East are now being contested in unprecedented ways. Pirates are roaming sea lanes. Local powers are threatening chokepoints. And the people are rising up to bring their authoritarian rulers down. With no simple solutions for maintaining control of oil flows, the West is facing a crucial decision. Already weakened by extended military interventions, faltering economies, and strained global partnerships, the US and Europe must decide whether violent intervention or benevolent passivity is the best course of action.

  • "This is a sobering history of the decline and fall of Western hegemony in the Persian Gulf and Western Indian Ocean -- and the alarming reality of what comes next. The historic march through North Africa and the Middle East with the world's top strategists, economists, and thinkers provides an unsettling glimpse into the post-American maritime order." - James Kraska, Howard S. Levie Chair in International Law at the U.S. Naval War College

  • "A sobering, comprehensive look at the contemporary geopolitics of the oil patch and the sea lanes that connect it to the world." - F. Gregory Gause, III, Professor of Political Science at the University of Vermont | Author of The International Relations of the Persian Gulf

  • "Alexandre Trudeau depicts a very clear and relevant picture of the oil-based conflict in the Middle East. The film is well-directed and only as sensational as its subject matter." - Laurence Trepanier, CBC News

    DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2012 / 54 minutes

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    By David Lavallee

    Narrated by Wade Davis, Explorer in Residence for National Geographic

    Canada is the number one foreign supplier of oil to the United States, a fact little known in America. Most of the oil imported comes from the Tar Sands of Northern Alberta, the second largest known oil reserve in the world outside of Saudi Arabia.

    But this is not a traditional oil field. The oil must be extracted and processed from the sands at a significant environmental cost -- requiring huge quantities of a diminishing fresh water supply and large amounts of energy that contribute to global warming.

    White Water, Black Gold follows David Lavallee on his three-year journey across Western Canada in search of the truth about the impact of the world's thirstiest oil industry. This is a journey of jarring contrasts, from the pristine mountain ice fields that are the source of the industry's water, to the Tar Sands tailing ponds, where thousands of migrating birds have unwittingly landed and died.

    Both government and industry spokespeople deny any cause for concern, but in the course of his journey Lavallee, backed by university scientists, makes a number of discoveries that challenge that assessment and raise serious concerns for Canada and the United States.

    Native peoples living downstream are contracting unusual cancers; new science shows that water resources in an era of climate change will be increasingly scarce; the proposed upgrading of the oilfields could endanger multiple river systems across Canada that makeup about half of its water supply; and a planned oil pipeline across British Columbia brings fresh threats to rivers, salmon and the Pacific Ocean.

    White Water, Black Gold is a sober look at the untold costs associated with developing this major oil deposit, and raises important questions about how much environmental damage we're willing to tolerate to feed our oil appetite.

  • "Highlights the indescribable beauty of the region and how it is being threatened by industry and carelessness." - Earth Times

  • Winner, 2011 John Muir Award, Yosemite Film Festival

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2011 / (Grades 7 - Adult) / 64 minutes

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    Eco Company takes to the road on Segways for this episode. They're out looking for stuff that has a valuable second use: like used cooking oil. Who would have known restaurants would be a source for biodiesel fuel? Brendan went to a landfill where the trash goes 200 feet deep. All trash produces methane gas and this place is putting it to good use.

    DVD / 2010 / (Jr. High - College) / 22 minutes

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    This visual tour de force takes viewers inside one of the most compelling environmental issues of our time. Witness a David and Goliath struggle that sees a tiny First Nations community enlist major Hollywood star power to fight Canada's oil sands development.

    A public relations battle rages over the impact of oil sands production on the environment and the people living downstream. This is thanks in part to a steady campaign by the residents of Fort Chipewyan in northern Alberta. They believe oil sands toxins are destroying their territory and their culture, and they've attracted some powerful voices to their cause. Chief among them is Avatar director James Cameron. At the same time, new scientific research could trigger a tipping point in the PR battle.

  • Best Director, Best Editor and Best Screenwriter, Alberta Film & Television Awards (The Rosies) 2011
  • nominated for Best Environmental Documentary, Banff World Media Awards

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2010 / (Grades 7-12, Adult Education, Post Secondary) / 90 minutes

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    In Episode 1 of the Arctic Meltdown series, we see the changes that are upsetting the scientific predictions of the impact of climate change on the Arctic. Now, one sobering forecast is that the Arctic Ocean will be seasonally ice free by the summer of 2013. This possibility is what drives environmentalists to identify ways to minimize the changes affecting this snowy land. But for prospectors like Gordon McCreary, climate change brings new opportunities. He is part of the rush to claim the riches beneath the Arctic's ice: deposits of metals, gold, diamonds, and oil and gas.

    Episode 1 showcases how Arctic nations are racing to claim control over the Arctic's resources and shipping routes. Dr. Ruth Jackson, from the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Nova Scotia, leads the Canadian team racing to map the seabed to support Canada's claim. Scientists too are now becoming victims of the Arctic's icy politics. A Canadian-led, international team of researchers is thwarted on camera when their deal to hire a Russian nuclear icebreaker falls through.

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2009 / (Grades 6-12, Adult Education, Post Secondary) / Approx. 44 minutes

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    Director: Adolfo Doring

    In this haunting portrait of America's oil-fueled excesses, director Adolfo Doring explores the inextricable link between the energy we use, the way we run our economy, and the multiplying threats that now confront the environmental health and stability of our planet. Taking as its starting point the inevitable energy depletion scenario known as "Peak Oil," the film surveys a fascinating range of the latest intellectual, political, and scientific thought to make the case that by whatever measure of greed, wishful thinking, neglect, or ignorance, we now find ourselves at a disturbing crossroads: we can continue to burn fossil fuels and witness the collapse of our ecology, or we can choose not to and witness the collapse of our economy. Refusing to whitewash this reality, Blind Spot issues a call to action, urging us to face up to the perilous situation we now find ourselves in so that we might begin to envision a realistic, if inconvenient, way out. Certain to inspire debate in classrooms across a range of disciplines, especially in economics, environmental studies, the natural sciences, and political science.

  • "Blind Spot rides currents of beauty and sadness, ultimately landing with a catharsis that comes when truth has been told." - Jason Bradford, Founder of 'Willits Economic Localization'

  • "Doubtless Peak Oil will come, the timing is a matter of debate. However we may be better off if it is not too long delayed, because it will accelerate what must be done to prevent environmental catastrophe." - Noam Chomsky

  • "Beautiful, crucial, straightforward, brilliantly woven images, words and music." - John Stauber, Author of Toxic Sludge Is Good For You

    DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2009 / 54 minutes

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    Canadian scientists are now joining the soldiers on the front lines of this new frontier, as they race to chart Canada's Arctic claims under the looming deadline of an international treaty. The Battle for the Arctic takes us from the far reaches of the North Pole to the waters of Alaska for a look into a struggle for sovereignty that could change the very face of Canada.

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2008 / (Grades 9-12, Adult Education, Post Secondary) / Approx. 42 minutes

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    It's the end of a myth which lasted 3,000 years. Since its oil shortage, China has relied on the outside world. Energy is its weak spot, its Achilles heel, and the problem will become more pronounced in proportion to its unbridled economic growth, which continues to be forecasted at 8% for the foreseeable future. There will be an immense need for an increased energy supply. China is unable to meet theses needs and collaboration with other governments is its only option. All of this growth has forced China to launch a world conquest. Every country with oil is being pursued.

    For three years, Chinese authorities have been traveling extensively to establish new oil alliances across the world. With those, come concessions that are incessantly at odds with the West. Contracts have been signed with Venezuela, Iran, the Sudan and Angola. In exchange, China offers its support in the form of promises to build telecommunication systems, railways and ports. It also offers protection to their partner nations by threatening to use its UN veto against resolutions involving human rights (Darfur) or nuclear issues (Iran.) Therefore doing business with the Chinese is much more attractive than with countries in the West. The Chinese do not want to be involved in the politics of other nations. They simply want oil.

    Are the Chinese really fulfilling all their promises? This investigative film offers an unprecedented examination of the issues that reach beyond the question of oil.

    DVD / 2008 / (Senior High - College) / 52 minutes

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    What lies behind the dramatic spike in oil and gas prices of recent years? What role have American oil companies played in it? And what do American economists and business leaders expect down the road? This Original documentary follows the flow of oil-from drill site to supertanker to refinery, then finally to the gas tank-while addressing economic and geopolitical issues associated with the planet's petroleum thirst. Documenting the search for new oil resources on Alaska's North Slope, the program also examines America's relationships with Venezuela, Russia, Iran, Libya, and China in an oil context. Interviewees include former Alaska governor Sarah Palin, ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva, and Antonia Juhasz of Global Exchange.

    DVD / 2008 / 45 minutes

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    Is the oil beginning to run out? Shot over four years in 13 countries this film uncovers the myths surrounding the future of world oil supplies. The producers lift the lid on the 'Peak Oil' theory - whether oil production is about to fall. They travel to the Middle East to find out how much oil is actually there, exposing evidence that the oil producers may be exaggerating by up to 50%. We meet the men who believe that oil prices are about to bankrupt all of us and their evidence is terrifying: there's barely any oil left to find. We look back to the 70's, when we were first warned about this problem and we examine what can be done to prevent a global economic catastrophe. Can we escape our addiction to oil? Are we just going to deny the problem until it kills us?

    But is it really that bad? We meet the powerful men who tell us there is no problem because technology can save us. Travelling from the North Sea to Pennsylvania to Brazil we examine these optimistic views. Are they valid or just wishful thinking? Why isn't this issue talked about more and why aren't we doing anything about it? What about the electric car or other forms of fuel? We examine the alternatives and whether we have a way out of the mess we are in. PetroApocalypse Now? is a clarion call to address our dependency on petroleum before we are left with an energy emergency of catastrophic proportions.

  • "Balanced and very informative. It's quite remarkable!" - Dr Robert Hirsch, US Energy Department consultant

  • "Great, poignant documentary." - Michael Maser, Blue Energy International

    DVD / 2008 / (Grades 9-Adult) / 48 minutes

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    Featuring Michael T. Klare

    With clarity and urgency, Blood and Oil transcends partisan politics to show how six decades of failed government policy have increased America's dependence on foreign oil and made its energy and defense policies virtually interchangeable.

    Against the grain of leaders and pundits who have dismissed and belittled claims that the U.S. has sacrificed the lives of its troops and countless others around the world to feed its oil habit, the film exposes a fundamental connection between diminishing global petroleum supplies, skyrocketing rates of global consumption, and successive American wars and military interventions. Based on the critically-acclaimed book by international security expert Michael T. Klare.

    "Resources, not differences in civilizations or identities, are at the root of most contemporary confilict." - Michael T. Klare

    DVD (With English Subtitles) / 2007 / Approx. 55 minutes

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    Alberta's tar sands are sometimes called the Saudi Arabia of the North, an oil deposit so rich it's transformed Canada into an energy superpower. But there's a catch. This oil is heavy. Scraping it out of the earth and separating out the valuable stuff is a massive enterprise, and it's turning Canada into one of the most polluting countries in the world. In addition to the clear cutting of boreal forests, voracious consumption of fresh water and natural gas, the refineries have created 80 square kilometres of toxic tailings ponds and now annually emit 40 million tonnes of greenhouse gases. As this National documentary reveals, Albertans concerned about contaminated water, diminishing air quality and increased health risks say it's time to slow the pace down, and environmental groups are proposing steps to achieve a carbon-neutral tar sands.

    DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2007 / (Grades 7-12, Adult Education, Post Secondary) / Approx. 23 minutes

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    Crude Impact is a powerful and timely story that explores the interconnection between human domination of the planet, and the discovery and use of oil. This documentary film exposes our global, deep-rooted dependency on fossil fuel energy and examines the future implications of peak oil - the point in time when the amount of petroleum available worldwide begins a steady, inexorable decline.

    In 1956, M. King Hubbert, a geologist at Shell Research Labs, shocked the oil industry by predicting that United States oil production - the largest in the world at that time - would peak in the early 1970s, and then continuously and irreversibly diminish. His prediction was vilified and largely ignored - until it came true. In Crude Impact, modern experts predict how quickly global peak oil will become a reality and discuss its many serious implications for our way of life and our world. Impacts discussed range from the environmental to the cultural, examining how global oil dependency is impacting everything from human rights practices, world population, renewable energy technologies, political agendas, globalization, wildlife habitats, and of course global economy.

    Journeying from the West African Delta region to the heart of the Amazon rainforest, from Washington to Shanghai, from early Man to the unknown future, Crude Impact chronicles the collision of our insatiable appetite for oil with the rights and livelihoods of indigenous cultures, other species and the planet itself. With great depth and insight, the film highlights the underlying myths and beliefs that are propelling us toward what many experts believe will be a cataclysmic period for humanity.

    A story filled with discovery, sorrow, outrage, humor, and ultimately hope, Crude Impact uncovers the complex entanglement of the fate of humankind with its fierce dependence on petroleum, while providing a vital inspiration for change.

  • "It is impossible to see this film and not begin to rethink the way we live." -Lynne Twist, Pachamama Alliance

  • "Crude Impact is a terrific film. I have no hesitation in saying it is the best documentary I have seen on the subject and I would feel very happy about recommending it to anyone. Key I think is its accessibility to someone with no prior exposure to the story of oil." -Chris Vernon, TheOilDrum.com

  • "Young people absolutely need to know about this issue, and Crude Impact covers it from all angles. This is a film no educator should be without.' -David W. Smith, Science Teacher, Bay High School

  • "After watching so many films... I'm a tough audience and it is hard to find something new. This film was as comprehensive as it was compelling." -Adrienne Bramhall, Sierra Club Productions

  • "Crude Impact is a powerful and thought provoking exploration of the hold that oil has over the world." -TransitionCulture.org

  • Winner: Best Feature Documentary - Artivist Film Festival
  • Winner: Social Justice Award - Santa Barbara Film Festival

    DVD (With Curriculum Guide) / 2007 / (Grades 7-Adult) / 98 minutes

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    Part 1 chronicles the discovery of oil in Persia in 1908; the tumultuous claims placed on Middle East territories and conclude with the British being sent home from Iran in the 1950s.

    This episode explores the "sphere of interest," power politics, oil's role in both World Wars, American influence, the Saudi empire, the exile of Britain, and the Shaw's rise to power and the start of turmoil between the nations of the Middle East

    DVD / 2007 / (Senior High - College) / 55 minutes

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    Part 2 profiles the history of Middle East oil beginning in the early 1970's. It chronicles the oil embargo and the resulting rise in import prices as foreign leaders attempt to negotiate. Tensions in the Middle East begin to heighten as conflicting groups become more violent with each other and foreign powers. Assassinations, hostage situations and torture are tearing the region apart. American female soldiers fighting in the Gulf War sparks interests in women's rights in Saudi Arabia. Fundamentalist groups react to this and become even more oppressive and aggressive.

    DVD / 2007 / (Senior High - College) / 55 minutes

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    Part 3 profiles the after effects of the second gulf war. Iraq, which once played a major role in the Middle East oil trade, is struggling to gain stability. Exemplifying this is the city of Kirkuk, one of the two largest oil regions in the country, where oil brought destruction and discrimination against the Kurds. In Iran, controversy surrounds the Sunni and Shiite's and the struggle for everyday life. This episode also shows the disparity between north and south Tehran and the south's disappointment with failed promises by president Ahmadinijhad. In stark contrast lies Kuwait and Saudi Arabia where modernization is far beyond that of Iran and Iraq.

    DVD / 2007 / (Senior High - College) / 55 minutes

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    This program offers a global history of the oil industry and the issues intertwined with it, from early -20th -century prospecting in South America and the Middle East to war in Iraq. The origins and significance of OPEC figure prominently in the narrative, as do several historic and violent conflicts revolving around controlling sources or flows of oil: labor strikes in Latin America, Nasser's seizure of the Suez Canal, the Iran -Iraq war, and other pivotal events. Revealing interviews feature, among others, former OPEC leader Sheikh Ahmed Yamani and former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia James Akins - who minces no words and calls oil a curse.

    Note: Only available in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Japan.

    DVD / 2003 / 52 minutes

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    This program is a David-versus-Goliath story of a small Native band battling major oil companies over development of the Peace-Athabasca Delta in Alberta. Underneath one of the greatest freshwater deltas on earth is one of the richest oil deposits in the world. This documentary examines the world's limitless thirst for oil and how a small Cree band found itself in the fight of its life. World-renowned scientist David Schindler joins the band, casting a warning about the plunder of resources.

    DVD / 2003 / (Grades 10-12, Adult Education, Post Secondary) / 47 minutes

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