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Living with the Spill

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Living with the Spill
USA 1992 91'

Director: Ruedi Gerber
Camera: Christian P. Hoagland
Editing: Sabine Krayenbühl
Music: Rory McFarlaine, Mark Russsel


Ruedi Gerber USA 1992 91'


After the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, Exxon Corporation spent more than $1.5 billion in its massive campaign to restore the ecosystem of Alaska’s Prince William Sound—as well as its own tarnished name. But behind the amply chronicled environmental and public relations catastrophe, the story of human misfortune in Valdez has been overlooked: the infusion of enormous amounts of Exxon money tore the fabric of the once peaceful community apart. Within a year after the spill, Valdez’ population tripled as the standard weekly wage for unskilled labor rose to $1600. Soaring property prices drove many long-time residents from their homes, while fishermen rented their boats for as much as $500,000. But the salmon cannery closed, and the smoke houses stood empty, while oil contaminated catches of fish were left to rot.
In Living with the Spill, the people explain the impact of the spill on their lives, presenting the wider political as well as the ecological issues, which surrounded the disaster.
Living with the Spill, exposes the dichotomy between Exxon’s elaborate publicity of its clean up operation and the actual effectiveness, giving voice to the people most affected by a tragedy, and the community that lives with the effects of the spill long after Exxon left.