Sweet Crude: Relevant Docu

“Sweet Crude”, the documentary from writer-director-producer Sandy Cioffi, is one of 18 feature-length docus to be selected for the 2009 International Documentary Association 13th Annual DocuWeeks theatrical showcase.  The film, deals with the struggle for resource control and fight against corporate oil giant Shell in the Niger Delta.


Cioffi, who was detained in prison by the Nigerian Military for seven days while filming in the Niger Delta in 2008, at first intended to document the building of a new ‘peace’ library in the region in 2005. Pulled into the confidence of a group of college students who would become the new insurgency, known as “MEND” (Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta), Cioffi instead became captivated by the untold story of the human and environmental toll from 50 years of unregulated, corporate oil extraction as well as the non-violent protest by men, women and children demanding control of their own resources.


When MEND, considered the voice of the region, is incorrectly targeted by American media such as ABC News, CNN and NPR as terrorists, Cioffi is the one journalist able to provide an on-camera interview between the news outlets and MEND. In a chilling, split-screen sequence the unfolding interview with ABC News exposes the extraordinary, and potentially dangerous, hyperbole of American mainstream media.


“Sweet Crude” won the Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision at the 2009 Seattle Film Festival.  It premiered at the 2009 Full Frame Documentary Festival, and has played the 2009 Galway Film Fleadh, where parallels between the Niger Delta story and the fight against Shell Oil in neighboring County Mayo, Ireland were eerily similar. A filled to capacity, town hall-style panel was held with Cioffi, members of the Mayo resistance known as the Rossport Five, and independent media to discuss the similarities and strategies of both landscapes.  


“Sweet Crude” will play as part of DocuWeek in Los Angeles July 31-August 06 at the Arclight Hollywood and DocuWeek in New York City August 14-August 20 at the IFC Center.


“Sweet Crude” is to next play at the Vancouver Film Festival, October 1-16, 2009.