Film: The End of an Era?
Ten exploration workers of the oil and gas industry talk to camera for the first time in their life. As lovers of the Earth, experts of its rocks, and as members of the energy industry, they claim a place to talk about their industry and its future. The story is narrated by the son of an oil geologist, who moved as an oil expat son from Brazil to Norway, showing the contrast between new generations of environmental/climate concern and the practical and ethical challenges faced by industry professionals. Following the footsteps of Statoil, the Norwegian oil company operating in Brazil, the film tackles questions like why to continue exploring for oil and gas today and the ethical dilemmas involved. In a world where climate change concerns are a priority and where alternative renewable energies seem to be advancing, this journey explores how the energy transition should take place, asking some of the people who have been part of the damage if they are ready to embrace change.
About the Film
Project Type: Documentary
Runtime: 50 minutes
Completion Date: November 15 2019
Production Budget: 15,000 EUR
Country of Origin: UK
Countries Filmed in: Norway, Brazil, Spain, UK
Languages: Spanish, Portugal and English
Shooting Format: Digital
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Film Colour: Colour
Official Selection at Film Festivals and Conference screenings
September 2019. Visual Research Network Film Festival
December 2019. Social Summit for Climate.
October 2019. Energy and Environmental Justice Workshop at ICTA
March 2020. Liberation DocFest Bangladesh
April 2020. International Nature Film Festival Gödöllö
May 2020. Distribute 2020 SVA-SCA Film Festival
June 2020. First-Time Filmmaker Sessions
June 2020. The Lift-Off Sessions
September 2020. The Hague Global Film Festival (Finalist)
September 2020. CinemAmbiente – Environmental Film Festival
September 2020. POLLEN Contested Natures: Power, Possibility, Prefiguration Conference
October 2020. 12th International Unseen Film Festival Film Sozialak Bilbao
March 2021. Bienal Internacional de Cine Científico BICC Virtual (Finalis
March 2021. Capital Filmmakers Festival Madrid
About the Film Makers
Films like ‘Crude’ or ‘Virunga’ brought us close to the operations of the oil industry, however always with secrecy and distance. In Brazil, I found the opposite reaction, attending public oil events where months of geological prospection work get put to chance through a license bid system, led me to big structural questions: How much money does the oil industry move, how much corruption is going on and most importantly why does the industry keep looking for oil through increasingly risky technology like fracking when the world is at need of an urgent energy transition to sustainable energy?
Surprisingly, the geologists I met were willing and motivated to give me an answer. Confronting them with the oil related corruption schemes in Brazil, and the different anti-extractivists social movements, I was surprised by how the geologists accepted, normalized and claimed to learn from their past mistakes. It all seemed a bit setup and I was having trouble telling people’s stories apart from their companies’ mainstream discourses. However, as I traveled to Norway a country that is fully sustained on hydropower, I saw how being an oil worker is part of a dark growth past that most Norwegians want to forget. In this new setting the geologists I met were much more open then to show their inner side, to demonstrate to the world, they are not the ‘evil ones’. This brought to light new questions to the documentary project, like: what is the size of demand, what is the place of oil in the future scenarios, and what are the moral and ethical positions of the workers who continue to look for oil in today’s world?
It was very important to maintain this funneling down of structural questions to the human emotional responses that sustain them. For me this brought the visual quest to a crucial point, leveling the industry to the human eye, showing the contradictions of the individual, as well as questioning its responsibilities towards the future energy outlook. The visual concept of the film is aimed to draw the audience closer to the human drama of the problem scene by scene. Starting from the broad picture of the industry to the role each one of us, with our own behaviour and position, has within the industry, the film journey aims to bring consumers and producers closer to our own hypocrisies. The objective is to give representation to an ethical dilemma present in every country in the world: What are we doing to save our planet? And maybe, the most important question of all, what can we do as individuals to help our society?
Paloma and Benjamin are visual anthropologists working for the past seven years to bring participatory ethnographic filmmaking to the wider public. They have done so through the Big Tree Collective, a hub for young documentary filmmakers concerned with social issues with a lack of visual representation. The collective has tackled the unrepresented in the Congolese music industry in ‘Amani Kila Siku’ (60′, 2014), the Egyptian revolution from the perspective of children’s play in ‘City Play’ (30′ 2015), the reality of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro through the perspective of adolescents in ‘Nosso Morro’ (40′, 2016), and modern day taboos with cancer in the Middle East in ‘I am waiting for you’ (30′, 2017). They are both organizers of the Visual Research Network and Paloma is a PhD candidate at the University of Manchester.