- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CANNES, FRANCE (AP) - A provocative documentary screened Tuesday at the Cannes Film Festival argues that the human and environmental devastation of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been covered up by authorities eager to return to business as usual.

“The Big Fix,” by husband-and-wife American directors Josh and Rebecca Tickell, features interviews with Louisiana fishing families whose livelihoods and health have been hit by the spill, then expands into a sweeping critique of American capitalism.

The title cuts two ways: the movie argues the U.S. political and economic system is rigged, and huge changes are required to correct it.

Josh Tickell, whose last film was another oil-related documentary, “Fuel,” said the current movie argues that “screwing in a light bulb or buying a hybrid car are not going to change the relationship between the government, the energy industry and the financial sector.”

“It’s like playing cards, and the house has the deck stacked against you,” Tickell told The Associated Press.

“The Big Fix” has high-profile support from Tim Robbins and Peter Fonda, executive producers on the movie. Fonda also appears in the film, which is sure to be strongly criticized by the energy industry.

The film disputes industry claims that the millions gallons of oil spilled after the April 22, 2010, explosion on the BP PLC-owned Deepwater Horizon rig have largely been cleaned up or dispersed.

It says a huge undersea slick is poisoning the ocean and that chemical dispersants used to break up the oil are harming the region’s residents, many of whom say they have developed blisters, rashes and respiratory problems.

BP and the U.S. government have said the use of the main chemical, Corexit, was the best option in the circumstances.

BP said Tuesday that it “worked hand-in-hand with and under the direction of the Coast Guard and the EPA (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) on the use of dispersants.”

Made in the polemical documentary style popularized by Michael Moore, “The Big Fix” depicts Louisiana as a petro-state controlled by oil companies, and Washington politicians as in hock to powerful lobbyists.

It includes the voices of Louisiana residents alongside an array of mostly left-of-center writers, journalists, academics and politicians.

The viewpoints of BP or other oil companies are notably absent.

Tickell said he asked for interviews with executives from BP and other companies featured in the film but that all declined.

“The Big Fix” had an official premiere at the French Riviera festival later Tuesday, followed by a beachside party. Tickell acknowledged the irony of launching his plea for social and political change at a glitzy movie extravaganza.

“You can look at a festival like this as an expression of the very power elite and wealth the film criticizes,” he said. “But Cannes has made a platform for politically and socially provocative films. They know it’s not just about red carpets and movie stars. It’s about the human predicament.”



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